Nearly 5,000 runners take part in second annual event.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island’s capital city was everything but “Broken Hearted” as the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Providence Half Marathon returned to New England under sunny skies and mild temperatures. As Mayor Angel Taveras fired the starting gun, nearly 5,000 entrants set off on a 13.1-mile journey through the city’s historical sites and along its scenic waterfront to the sounds of live, local bands, cheerleaders and enthusiastic spectators.
In the men’s race, Christian Hesch of Hollywood, Calif., found himself in a three-man pack with Ethiopia’s Fikadu Lemma and Demesse Tefera early on. The three stayed together for more than 12 miles before Hesch made his move, certain that the win was his for the taking.
“The wind really helped out in the last few miles,” he said. “That was a huge boost for me. I’m pretty sure I had the win anyway but it made it much more certain because at that point it’s a kicker’s race and I’m never going to lose a kicker’s race.”
It wasn’t until the final half mile that Hesch, a sub-4 minute miler, was finally on his own.
“I thought we were going to come up the hill together and sprint to the line,” said Hesch. Instead, the 33-year-old Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series veteran squeezed in a few pushups before crossing the finish line at 1:07:05.
“Why? Why not? You can’t always be so serious about it,” he said with a laugh.
Lemma finished second in 1:07:15 with Tefera clocking in third at 1:07:50.
Hometown girl Stephanie Pezzullo would take the women’s race handily. A high school All-American soccer player who grew up in Rhode Island, Pezzullo didn’t discover her talent for running until her senior year of college at Penn State University.
“I tried out for the track team for fun,” she said. “I had no idea it would lead to professional running but here I am ten years later.”
Pezzullo ran a solo race, finishing in 1:15:17. Her closest competitor was more than two minutes behind. Hilary Dionne of Charlestown, Mass., took second in 1:17:49 followed by Kailin Collins of Brookline, Mass. For Pezzullo, the win was an added bonus on a day when training was her main priority.
“I kept it steady and just wanted to finish without killing myself,” she said. “It was a little hillier than the last few half marathons I’ve done. I’m using this as a tune up for the Chicago Marathon, my first full marathon, in October so that’s a big one for me.”
Among the sea of runners was a changed man, Patrick House. The 28-year-old was named the winner of NBC’s Biggest Loser Season 10 after losing more than 200 pounds and has since become a bona fide runner, completing the Boston Marathon twice. In his first Rock ‘n’ Roll race, House achieved his personal best, a respectable 2:03:29.
“This was awesome,” House said afterward. “The race atmosphere in Providence was amazing, running through the parks and the neighborhoods and near the water. It was really pretty and a lot of fun.”
The rising stardom pop duo Karmin kept runners on their feet at the post-race concert, performing their smash single, “Brokenhearted,” which peaked this summer at the #16 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Four local charities benefited from the race, raising more than $52,000 for a variety of causes. But, it was the city itself that was the biggest star, leaving an impression that even seasoned runners like Hesch will long remember.
“It was gorgeous,” he said. “This should be the most popular Rock ‘n’ Roll because it’s the most beautiful Rock ‘n’ Roll I’ve done. Nothing compares to this.”
2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Providence – Results
Place, Name, Age, Hometown, Time, Prize
- Christian Hesch, 33, Hollywood, CA, 1:07:05, $1,000
- Fikadu Lemma, 28, Ethiopia, 1:07:15, $500
- Demesse Tefera, 29, Washington D.C. (ETH), 1:07:50, $250
- Patrick Moulton, 30, Providence, RI, 1:09:51, $500**
- Jason Ayr, 25, Westfield, MA, 1:10:13, $250**
- Stephanie Pezzullo, 30, Charlotte, NC, 1:15:17, $1,000
- Hilary Dionne, 26, Charlestown, MA, 1:17:49, $1,000*
- Kailin Collins, 25, Brookline, MA, 1:18:30, $500*
- Katie Twarog, 29, Providence, RI, 1:19:00, $125*
- Diana Davis, 27, Providence, RI, 1:22:02
*Includes New England Only Prize Money
For official results, photos and more, visit RunRocknRoll.Competitor.com/Providence