Exciting finishes highlight an epic night of running on The Strip.
The finish of the men’s race at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon was the most exciting show in town on Sunday night as 28-year-old Jason Brosseau of Colorado Springs, Colo., pulled away from Andrew Duncan of Las Vegas over the final mile to win the race in 2 hours 35 minutes and 26 seconds. The 46-year-old Duncan finished 10 seconds back to the raucous cheers of the large crowds assembled on Las Vegas Boulevard.
“I’m a track runner. I knew the closer and closer we got to the finish, the more it was my race,” Brosseau said afterward. “I had a kick and went for it with one mile to go.”
Yon Yilma, 25, of Edmonds, Wash., led most of the way, passing halfway in 1:13:29 and 20 miles in 1:55:45 before the wheels fell off. Brosseau and Duncan, who were running together at 20 miles (1:58:27) caught a fading Yilma at mile 23 and battled back and forth the rest of the way to the finish line.
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“From mile 16 to 23 I was working with [Duncan],” Brosseau said of Duncan. “Great guy. He kept talking the whole way. He was motivating and told me he [Yilma] was coming back. I wasn’t even looking ahead. I was just trying to stay alive. But him telling me the leader was coming back just kept me rolling and rolling.”
Justin Kurek, 33, rounded out the top-3 in 2:37:17, while Yilma finished fourth in 22:41:36.
Michael Wardian, 39, of Arlington, Va., who won the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon on Sunday morning in 2:31:19, ran 2:57:56 to finish tenth in Las Vegas. Wardian, who hopped on a plane immediately after the San Antonio race, went through halfway in 1:18:23 before the day’s tall task took its toll on his legs.
“It’s a lot to do that back to back,” Wardian said after the race. “So I was pretty happy. I ran a pretty fast first half but I just kind of lost my legs in the second half but I was having trouble keeping food down. It just happens. I was happy to be out there and come through in under 3:00. You’ve got to make different goals when things aren’t going your way.”
In the women’s marathon, 43-year-old Nuta Olaru of Boulder, Colo., won for the second year in a row, breaking the tape in 2:58:46. The Romanian Olympian, who won last year’s race by a scant 2 seconds, finished 6 minutes and 2 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Jennifer Benitiz of Carol Stream, Ill., on Sunday night. Kellie Nickerson finished third in 3:11:02.
“My goal was to win this race again,” said Olaru, who finished second at last month’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon. “I love the lights in Las Vegas. The lights give me power.”
Olaru, who went through halfway in 1:26:24, said after the race she hopes to run the Boston Marathon in April.
In the men’s half marathon, Fidele Jefferson of Flagstaff, Ariz., outlasted Tefera Deneke, also of Flagstaff, 1:06:17 to 1:06:26. Passing 10K together in 30:52 and 10 miles in 50:11, Jefferson battled the wind the best over the final 5 kilometers to claim victory.
Jefferson, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Burundi, finished 17th at last month’s Chicago Marathon in 2:15:19. Mario Macias, a 31-year-old from Manitou Springs, Colo., finished third in 1:06:47.
The women’s half marathon wasn’t as close, as Adriana Nelson of Boulder, Colo., the top U.S. finisher at the New York City Marathon just two weeks ago, cruised to victory in 1:18:10.
The 33-year-old, who won the U.S. half-marathon title earlier this year, ran solo from the start and had a 56-second lead on the rest of the field at 5K (18:17). Passing 10K unchallenged in 36:41 and 10 miles in 59:15, Nelson finished over four minutes ahead of 41-year-old Jennifer Boyd of Albuquerque, who finished second in 1:22:38. Forty-year-old Carla McAlister of San Clemente, Calif., rounded out the top three in 1:23:09.
In all more than 24,000 runners participated in the full, half and the Zappos 1/2 of the Half races on Sunday in Las Vegas. Results are posted here.