American Biwott Wins Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon

American Shadrack Biwott wins the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon on Oct. 2. Photo:

After Sunday’s incredible finish at the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, there was no doubt whatsoever that success there runs in the family. Shadrack Biwott, brother of former champion and current course-record holder Duncan Kibet, won the 13.1-mile race. The 31-year-old blazed the scenic and super-fast course in downtown San Jose in one hour, 1 minute and 55 seconds.

Biwott, a U.S. citizen and former University of Oregon All-American, is currently training in Mammoth Lakes Calif., under the watchful eye of Andrew Kastor of the Mammoth Track Club.

“I felt amazing,” Biwott said afterwards. “I honestly didn’t know the pace I was running at the beginning. My first mile was 4:41 and I said that I might as well keep running like this if I can.” Biwott says he saw his coach out on the course and he offered some encouragement. “He said, ‘Shaddy,you look good. Use your arms. Look up. Have fun,’.”

PHOTOS: 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon

Biwott made his move at mile 5 when he dropped eventual-second-place finisher Patrick Smyth.

“I felt great. Once I saw the [lead] truck. I chased it down. I kind of fell asleep around miles 10, 11, and 12, but then I woke up and told myself to push it.”

Sunday’s race was a tune-up for Biwott before the New York City Marathon next month. “Today’s race tells me I’m on the right track for it. I have another 4 weeks for hard training then I’m going to taper and see how it goes.” Biwott says he won’t race any more before New York. “Today’s effort felt easy for me. I’m very happy with the race.”

Second-place finisher Smyth clocked 1:03:21, while Daniel Tapia of Mammoth Lakes was third in 1:04:13

The women’s half-marathon was also a similar race with a dominant winner. Kenya’s Sally Kipyego crossed the finish line first in the heart of San Jose with a 1:09: 53 showing.

“It was a good day. The conditions were perfect,” she said. Like Biwott, Kipyego stuck with a pack that included rival Sara Hall until mile 5 “I just ran the last 8 miles by myself. That was a bit difficult.” Kipyego admitted afterward that she went into the race with tired legs to see how she felt. “I was pleased with that,” she said. “Going under 1:10 was good.” Kipyego, who trains in Flagstaff, Arizona, will be racing the New York City. “This race tells me that I’m strong,” she said. “I think I can run faster.” For New York, she says she just wants to be competitive and have a “solid race.”

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Second place was awarded to Sara Hall, who is also preparing for the New York City Marathon and had been using the race to tune-up for her November marathon where she is hoping to break the 2:30 barrier. Hall’s time was 1:12:47. Lyndy Davis was third a full 6 minutes behind in 1:8:47.

Legendary 49er running back Roger Craig took part in the half marathon. The man with three Super Bowl rings helped San Diego resident Kelsey Jess finish the race.

“He’s one of the greats,” said Jess. “It was inspiring to cross hand-in-hand with him. It doesn’t matter where you come from. We all have that same goal in mind. At mile 6 or 7, I was struggling. He was like, ‘Girl, you got to get going.’.”

“That’s what we do these races for,” said Craig. “It was an amazing day. The weather was perfect.” Craig is one of the race’s co-founders and is proud of this incredible achievement. “When you run it, the neighbors come out and say, ‘Thank you for bringing this race to San Jose’.” Craig says the runners are the same way. “Competitor is just an amazing company. You guys make impacts and change people’s lives. About 5 years ago I ran with a woman who had cancer. Last year, she came to my race, for its 10th anniversary. She said to me, ‘Roger, I’m cancer free.’ We both started crying.” Craig ran the race, his 40th half marathon/marathon with his son. “He crushes me every time we run,” he said. “Distance running keeps me active and motivated with everything I do with life. It keeps you setting goals. It motivates you. I like that.”

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Weather in the city called the “Capital of Silicon Valley” on Sunday couldn’t have been more perfect with temperatures at the start in the high 50s and light winds—a beautiful, crisp fall day in the Golden State. Finishers were welcomed along the roads by numerous bands and cheer zones. The Rock ‘n’ Roll excitement kicked off with a Kids Rock race and 5K on Saturday. A 10K was also held in conjunction with the half marathon.

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