Over 15,000 runners took part in the annual event.
DENVER — Andrew Lemoncello shook off some rust from a long injury layoff and ran away with the Rock ’n’ Roll Denver 1/2 Marathon on Saturday morning. In his first race back since suffering a severe hamstring injury in 2011, the 29-year-old Scottish runner outran 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials marathoners Kenyon Neuman (Boulder, Colo.) and Josh Eberly (Gunnison, Colo.) to win the race in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 12 seconds.
More than 15,000 runners participated in the half marathon, marathon and marathon relay on a cool and sunny Colorado morning ideal for running. The courses began at Civic Center Park, sent runners through downtown Denver, meandered through several neighborhoods and linked several of the city’s wide-open parks before finishing close to where it started adjacent to the state capitol building.
“It was a great comeback race for me, and especially good to have someone there the whole time,” said Lemoncello, who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., and trains under coach Greg McMillan. “To be honest, I would have been happy just to finish and be pain-free. So getting the win on a great day like this is just a big bonus for me.”
Lemoncello and Neuman, 25, a former University of Colorado standout, led a pack of eight runners through the streets of downtown Denver but eventually split away along with Eberly, 31, last year’s half-marathon champion, at about mile 5.
The race quickly turned into a two-runner duel between Lemoncello and Neuman, with each alternately surging throughout the middle of the race.
Lemoncello took the lead for good just after the 11-mile mark in Cheesman Park. He extended his lead as the course wound downhill to the finish line adjacent to Civic Center Park. Neuman dropped back a few seconds over the final two miles but finished strong in 1:06:28.
“It was a good race. We went back and forth trading off the lead,” said Lemoncello, who earned $1,000 for the win. “I was tired there [at the 11-mile mark], so I knew if I could go as hard as I could as hard as I could, I might be able to get lucky and break away from him there. I was just happy to have the strength to hang on.”
Eberly held on for third in 1:07:30, while Tommy Greenless (Walnut Creek, Calif.) was fourth in 1:08:25 and Greg Reindl (Denver, Colo.) took fifth in 1:08:58.
In the women’s half marathon, Rui Aoyama, a 23-year-old Japanese runner who trains part of the year in Boulder, took home the win and the $1,000 paycheck with a 1:14:35 effort, about two minutes short of the PR she set earlier this year. Aoyama outran Nuta Olaru (1:15:00), a 42-year-old former Romanian Olympian who became a U.S. citizen last year and won the Big Sur Marathon and the Bolder Boulder 10K earlier this year.
Japan’s Moeno Nakamura was third in 1:16:01 in the women’s half, followed by Brianne Nelson (Golden, Colo.) in 1:16:21 and Wendy Thomas (Windsor, Colo.) in 1:17:11.
In the men’s marathon, Kenyan Abraham Kogo won handily in 2:27:58. The 31-year-old had been training above 6,000 feet in and around Colorado Springs for the past month but said racing at Denver’s 5,280-foot elevation was still challenging. Kogo took fifth in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon in 2:16:33 on May 6.
“It was good for me, but my body didn’t do well racing at altitude,” Kogo said. “I live and train at lower altitude in Kenya, so I knew it would be hard here. My body didn’t respond as well because of the high altitude.”
Denver’s Dave Scudamore, 42, was a distant second (2:32:58) in the marathon but was easily the top masters runner in the race. Denver’s Matt Dewald was third (2:33:44), followed by last year’s Rock ’n’ Roll Denver Marathon winner Chris Siemers (2:36:10). Siemers, 31, the interim head cross country coach at the Colorado School of Mines, ran fairly well despite spending most of the summer rehabbing from separate surgeries on each of his hips last spring.
Mizuho Nasukawa, a 2:25 marathoner and two-time bronze medalist in the Asian Championships, won the women’s marathon in 2:37:05, well ahead of runner-up Nicole Chyr (Englewood, CO) in 2:51:24.
Rock ’n’ Roll Denver 1/2 Marathon
1. Andrew Lemoncello, 29, Great Britain, 1:06:12, $1,000
2. Kenyon Neuman, 25, Boulder, CO, 1:06:28, $500
3. Josh Eberly, 31, Gunnison, CO, 1:07:30, $250
4. Tommy Greenless, 30, Walnut Creek, CA, 1:08:25
5. Greg Reindl, 28, Denver, CO, 1:08:58
1. Rui Aoyama, 23, Japan, 1:14:35, $1,000
2. Nuta Olaru, 42, Longmont, CO, 1:15:00, $500
3. Moeno Nakamura, 22, Japan, 1:16:01, $250
4. Brianne Nelson, 31, Golden, CO, 1:16:21
5. Wendy Thomas, 33, Windsor, CO, 1:17:11
Rock ’n’ Roll Denver Marathon
1. Abraham Kogo, 32, Kenya, 2:27:58, $1,000
2. Dave Scudamore, 42, Denver, CO, 2:32:58, $500
3. Matt Dewald, 29, Denver, CO, 2:33:44, $250
4. Chris Siemers, 31, Golden, CO, 2:36:10
5. Bill Condon, 31, Seattle, WA, 2:44:15
1. Mizuho Nasukawa, 32, Japan, 2:37:05, $1,000
2. Nicole Chyr, 34, Englewood, CO, 2:51:24, $500
3. Paige Higgins, 30, Littleton, CO, 2:52:29, $250
4. Molly Smith, 32, Denver, CO, 3:06:24
5. Bridget Tschappat, 35, Highlands, Ranch, CO., 3:07:00