Lilian Marita of Kenya captures women’s title.
Saturday’s cool ocean breezes gave way to a steamy Sunday morning in Virginia Beach at the 14th Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Festival on Labor Day weekend. While American Jeffrey Eggleston outlasted his competition, he couldn’t outlast the conditions, narrowly missing his sub-65 minute goal to break the tape with a time of 1 hour, 5 minutes and 27 seconds.
“It went pretty well, I’m happy to get the win,” said Eggleston. “I’ve been trying to build on my success going back to Boston finishing 8th and then running 2:10 in July, I focused my training and regrouped as I build up for the fall. Today was a really good step forward. I wanted to go out and win, and look forward to running faster.”
Eggleston, who recently ran a marathon personal best of 2:10:52 at the Gold Coast Marathon, tucked in with a lead pack of four athletes running an opening mile of 4:49. The threesome of North Carolina-based Kenyans Simion Chirchir, Betram Keter and Abraham Chelanga; pushed the sub-5 minute pace through five miles with a split of 24:45, when Eggleston began contemplating what would be a decisive move at a water station near mile six.
“The conditions were difficult out there and I had to strategize about when to make a move,” said Eggleston, who will race the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon on September 21. “I wanted to test the legs of the other athletes, they were going for water and weren’t really paying attention, I wanted to wake them up and see if anyone would respond. It was kind of funny because I really caught them off guard.”
The move, combined with the warm conditions, proved to be enough as Eggleston clicked five minute mile after five minute mile to open a sizeable gap. American Tyler Pennel, out of contention for most of the race, finished second overall with a time of 1:06:08. Pennel, who finished 4th at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships this year with a time of 1:01:45, used the Virginia Beach event as a tune-up race for the Metronic Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis in October.
“I went out there to do a marathon simulation type of race, start out at marathon pace and then pick it up the last couple miles. I really couldn’t pick it up that much as the humidity caught up with me, but it was still a good run,” said Pennel, who trains with the Zapp Fitness Group in Blowing Rock, NC. “It was a fun event, with the music and it was really cool how the course comes back on itself and the runners going the other way were cheering for the elites. Overall, I liked the course.”
Kenyan women swept the top-three spots in the women’s race with 26-year-old Lilian Marita crossing the finish line with a time of 1:15:29. Caroline Kiptoo finished second in 1:16:19, followed by Joyce Kandie in third with a time of 1:16:38.
Capping an annual Labor Day Weekend tradition, Grammy Award winning rock band Train served as the headliner for Sunday’s post-race concert on the beach.