Pifer Outduels Begley In Savannah

Stephen Pifer, half-marathon winner. Photo: savannahnow.com

More than 17,000 take part in second annual event Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon & ½ Marathon benefiting the American Cancer Society.


Savannah, GA – The Hostess City of the South rolled out a welcoming combination of ideal weather and thousands of enthusiastic spectators as more than 17,000 entrants took to the streets for the 2nd annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon & ½ Marathon benefiting the American Cancer Society. The race started in downtown Savannah and ended in Forsyth Park.

In the men’s half marathon, a pack of five ran together from the start, but Stephen Pifer of Jacksonville, Fla. and Curtis Begley of Boulder, Colo. soon emerged as the top two. Begley led until mile 10, when Pifer put his race plan in motion and made his move.

RACE PHOTOS: Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon & Half Marathon

“Curtis had been doing a lot of the work and I was feeling good and didn’t want to be one of those guys that just sat on him and nipped him at the line,” said Pifer. “He was tough, he kept surging and I thought he was going to drop me but I said, run through the pain. My hat’s off to him.”

Pifer ran his first full marathon just a few weeks ago in Chicago, and credited Savannah’s spectators for helping to push him through this race. He won in 1:05:32, with Begley in second at 1:06:00.

“It’s hard to come back after that but you guys were awesome here,” Pifer said. “And I can’t say enough about how loud everybody was cheering. It was really cool.”

The women’s half marathon winner was 33-year-old Venera Sarmosova, who won in 1:17:44, trailed by Kimberly Ruck, 23, of South Carolina.

A revamped course took runners through the city’s iconic downtown squares and the scenic campus of Savannah State University, a change that the returning women’s champion in the full marathon, Jill Braley Horst, welcomed.

“It was a better course than last year, especially going through the campus. The students are always excited and cheering and a little more lively so I liked that a lot,” she said.

Horst, who lives in Rome, Ga., ran alone for the majority of the way, winning in 2:52:05. Behind her was Anne-Marie Sibal who finished in 3:03:05.

“I felt great. It was probably the best I’ve ever felt through 18 miles. You couldn’t ask for a better day,” added Horst.

In the men’s full marathon, 47-year-old Jeff Mescal of Indiana became the first charity runner to ever win a Rock ‘n’ Roll event, surging at mile 18 to win in 2:43:04. Mescal was running with the race’s benefiting charity, the American Cancer Society, on behalf of his mother.

“She died of cancer 20 years ago and I still miss her. I always thought I’d dedicate a race to her and it never felt right until I was over at the ACS table at the Expo yesterday. I’m glad I did this one for her – she would have loved this place.”

Also running with the American Cancer Society was actress Andrea Powell, starring in the upcoming Twilight film “Breaking Dawn II.” Powell ran in honor of her late father and completed the half marathon in 2:29:08.

Rock band Adelitas Way headlined the post race concert in beautiful Forsyth Park and Savannah’s Mayor Edna B. Jackson fired off the starting gun downtown.

Results: Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon & ½ Marathon benefiting the American Cancer Society.

Name, Age, Hometown, Time, Prize Money

Men’s Full Marathon

  1. Jeff Mescal, 47, Indiana, 2:43:04, $1,000
  2. Joseph Hillenbrand, 28, Pennsylvania, 2:48:36,$500
  3. John Tolerton, 42, South Carolina, 2:48:54, $250

Women’s Full Marathon

  1. Jill Braley Horst, 34, Georgia, 2:52:05, $1,000
  2. Anne-Marie Sibal, 32, South Carolina, 3:03:05, $500
  3. Shannon Roof, 30, North Carolina, 3:12:48, $250

Men’s Half Marathon

  1. Stephen Pifer, 27, Florida, 1:05:32, $1,000
  2. Curtis Begley Jr, 25, Colorado, 1:06:00, $500
  3. Rueben Mwei, 26, Georgia, 1:07:34, $250

Women’s Half Marathon

  1. Venera Sarmosova, 33, Florida, 1:17:44, $1,000
  2. Kimberly Ruck, 23, South Carolina, 1:19:03, $500
  3. Lyubov Denisova, 41, Florida, 1:19:57, $250

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