The 30-year old ran 2:18:48, taking 44 seconds off old mark.
DENVER – A brisk, fall morning transformed into a thrilling afternoon at the 2nd annual Sports Authority Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon & ½ Marathon on Sunday, where a new state record was set in the men’s marathon. Nearly 15,000 entrants lined up in downtown Denver, touring the city’s beautiful parks under perfect running conditions before a finish under sunny skies in Civic Center Park.
As the clock ticked toward 2:19:32–the state marathon record held by Juan Salvador of Mexico since 1993–excitement began to build in the crowds lining the finish line. When 30-year-old Chris Siemers of Arvada, Colorado appeared in the final stretch, he finished to roaring applause in 2:18:48. Siemers was followed by Andrew Smith of Denver, Jonathan Ndambuki of Kenya, and American 50K record holder Josh Cox, who placed fourth.
Having achieved his main goal of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials (he needed to run under 2:19), the state record was an emotional achievement for Siemers, who grew up in Chicago but lives and trains in Colorado, calling it “the best state for running.”
“I wanted to do it here,” he said, referring to his qualifying time. “I love Colorado and I used to watch guys like Alan Culpepper run here and it motivated me. Mentally, this is huge for me. I wanted to prove it to myself and I have.”
Siemers ran side by side with the half-marathon men’s winner, Josh Eberly of Gunnison, until the two courses split. The two men ran together at Western State College and parted ways with a fist bump and words of encouragement.
“I told him to pace himself,” laughed Eberly, who also won his race handily in 1:06:57, beating Bernard Langat of Kenya. “It was a great course. There were some hills but I run here often and it’s great to go through all the parks.”
Eberly will join Siemers at the Olympic Trials in January.
In the women’s full marathon, Heather Utrata of Englewood struggled in the final miles, but was victorious over Trisha Miller of Missoula, Montana, winning in 2:50:38. Utrata placed second here last year and was brought to tears by the disappointment of failing to qualify for the Olympic Trials, but also the joy of the win.
“It was a really difficult race,” she said. “I was having a hard time around mile 24, but then I saw so many friends along the sidelines cheering and yelling for me and that pushed me through. I’m really happy with the win – this was a big race for me.”
Utrata plans to compete next at the Zappos.com Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in December.
Romania’s Lidia Simon and Nuta Olaru dominated the women’s half-marathon, with 38-year-old Simon ultimately taking first in 1:14:54. Olaru placed behind her in 1:15:16, followed by Brianne Nelson of Fort Collins, CO. Olaru currently holds the Colorado state record in the half marathon.
The wheelchair race saw six participants in the full marathon, with Sean Haggard of Denver dominating in 2:01:01, followed by Denny Gordon of Longmont, CO in 2:06:23.
2011 Sports Authority Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon & Half Marathon Results
Place, Name, Age, Hometown, Time, Prize Purse
Full Marathon – Men
1 Chris Siemers, 30, Arvada, CO, 2:18:48, $1,000
2 Andrew Smith, 35, Denver, CO, 2:29:29, $500
3 Jonathan Ndambuki, 35, Kenya, 2:29:50, $250
Full Marathon – Women
1 Heather Utrata, 29, Englewood, CO 2:50:38, $1,000
2 Trisha Miller, 31, Missoula, MT, 2:51:43, $500
3 Nicole Chyr, 33, Englewood, CO, 2:52:06, $250
Half Marathon – Men
1 Josh Eberly, 31, Gunnison, CO, 1:06:57, $1,000
2 Bernard Langat, 29, Kenya, 1:08:59, $500
3 Nicholas Sunseri, 25, Steamboat Springs, CO, 1:10:43, $250
Half Marathon – Women
1 Lidia Simon, 38, Romania, 1:14:54, $1,000
2 Nuta Olaru, 41, Romania, 1:15:16, $500
3 Brianne Nelson, 30, Fort Collins, CO, 1:17:12, $250