James, Sutton Reign At St. Jude Country Music Marathon

Ryan James breaks the tape to win the St. Jude Country Music Marathon.

Two first-time marathoners are first across the finish line. 

NASHVILLE — A pair of first-time marathoners won the 13th running of Nashville’s 26.2-mile block party. Berry College sophomore Ryan James of Belfast, Maine, won the race in 2 hours, 32 minutes and 50 seconds. Just 19, he became the youngest marathon champion in the history of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

“This was an amazing experience. My plan was to run to completion and run as hard as I could,” said James, who won the Flying Pig Half Marathon 12 months ago in 1:13:25. “Those last couple miles it was getting a little tough. I heard Nashville had hills but I’m a cross country runner. A bunch of my teammates are here running to celebrate the end of our season, but this is the highlight of my running career.”

RACE PHOTOS: St. Jude Country Music Marathon

Erin Sutton of Woodstock, Ga., won the women’s marathon in 2:54:16 to take home the $1,000 first prize in her debut effort at 26.2 miles. Dallas-based Kenyan Sammy Kiplagat, who won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon last month, was the first to cross the finish line outside LP Field, with a winning half-marathon time of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 8 seconds. A three-time All-American at the University of Tennessee, Sharon Thompson of Franklin, Tenn. won the women’s half marathon in 1 hour, 19 minutes and 40 seconds.

Nine-time Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow joined more than 30,000 runners in the races. The first ambassador of the St. Jude Music Gives program, Crow ran the Nashville half marathon in support of the New Hope Academy, finishing the 13.1-mile race in 1:59:14.

“The bands on the course were great, it was so uplifting and fun, and they really help take your mind off the pain. People lined the whole way, cheering you on saying you ‘can do it’,” Crow said. “I can really see how people get hooked on doing marathons.”

Along with Crow, other notable runners included national radio host, Dave Ramsey (2:16:15), Christian artist Toby Mac (2:18:39), Suzanne Alexander, host of GAC Nights and On The Streets (2:19:58) and  Country Music artist Joanna Smith, who sang the national anthem and then completed the half-marathon in 2 hours, 22 minutes and 33 seconds running in support of St. Jude.

“As the official charity partner of this remarkable event, we are grateful to all the participants, especially the amazing group of St. Jude Heroes,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “The true winners are the kids of St. Jude. Every dollar raised will help St. Jude continue our groundbreaking research and care, all while ensuring that no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.”

The weekend’s schedule of events also included more than 7,100 junior racers competing at ING KiDS ROCK Nashville on Friday evening, a non-competitive, non-timed one-mile fun run for kids grades K-7. Event weekend festivities conclude with a post-race concert Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena headlined by Rodney Atkins. The 14th annual St. Jude Country Music Marathon is set for April 27, 2013.

“It’s been such a fun event. People are out here running for their causes and St. Jude,” Crow added. “I was running for New Hope Academy, which is a school in Williamson County and it’s an amazing school. High academics, caters to all socio-economical backgrounds and kids of all cultural differences and races, and a faith-based school, raising scholarships. It’s a great school to run for.”

2012 St. Jude Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon Results


1. Ryan James, 19, Belfast, ME, 2:32:50, $1,000
2. Steve Slaby, 31, Tuscon, AZ, 2:40:16, $500
3. Daniel Smoak, 23, Greenville, SC, 2:41:44, $250


1. Erin Sutton, 24, Woodstock, GA, 2:54:16, $1,000
2. Karen Lockyer, 34, Lake Charles, LA, 2:56:22, $500
3. Erin Wachter, 25, Folsom, CA, 3:00:56, $250

1/2 Marathon

1. Sammy Kiplagat, 39, Hidalgo, TX, 1:10:08

1. Sharon Thompson, 32, Franklin, TN, 1:19:40

For more results and race details, go to runrocknroll.competitor.com

Recent Stories