Ethiopian runs fastest ever marathon in California; Terfa Nagari wins men’s race in 2:11:18.
SAN DIEGO — Before today, Buzunesh Deba had a personal best in the half marathon of 1:12:49. She shattered that time this morning at the Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon, crossing the 13.1-mile mark in 1:09:53. Then she kept going.
The 23-year old Ethiopian slowed down some over the second half of the race, but had more than enough of a cushion to hold on for her second marathon victory this year, breaking the tape in 2:23:31–the fastest marathon ever run on Californian soil, and the 11th-fastest time in the world this year. She also bettered her previous fastest time of 2:26:34, run at the LA Marathon in March, and even beat her husband Workua Beyi’s fastest time of 2:25:07.
“I will try harder to get the (family) record back,” Beyi said with an embarrassed smile. “I will not sleep anymore.”
For Deba, who now lives in The Bronx, N.Y., the race comprised her sixth win in eight marathons and established her as a solid contender for next year’s Olympics in London. She will run the ING New York City Marathon this fall.
In contrast, the men’s champion Terfa Negari, also of Ethiopia, won for the first time in seven marathons. After having finished second three times, Negari was so elated that he kissed the ground just past the finish. He pulled away from the field near mile 19.
“The pace was easy and the pacemaker was no good,” he said, according to Beyi, who served as his translator. “My body told me to go faster.”
Another Ethiopian, Tesfaye Sendekua, finished second at 2:12:23. Kenyans Gilbet Cheplwony and Christopher Torotich finished third and fourth respectively. American Luke Humphries, who runs with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in Michigan, finished fifth overall as the top American with a new personal best time of 2:14:39.
Daniel Tapia, of Castroville, CA, finished seventh with a personal best time of 2:16:50, which qualifies him for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January. Also qualifying for the trials was Humphries’ Hansons-Brooks teammate Sage Canaday, who finished eighth with a new personal best of 2:16:52.
A flurry of notable runners also relished in the sunshine-filled finish line. Cindy McCain, wife of former Arizona senator John McCain, participated in the half marathon in support of the event’s benefiting charity, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Other celebrity participants included Tamra Barney, Real Housewives of Orange County; Kit Hoover, Access Hollywood LIVE; Jenny Masche, Raising Sextuplets; Don Jeanes, Transformers; and Jerry Sanders, Mayor of San Diego.