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Big Victories Highlight Elite Races at Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle

Convincing victories for the marathon and half marathon champions.

Washington’s largest city played host to Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon on Saturday. More than 17,000 athletes from all over the world laced up their running shoes and rocked out to tunes along the scenic course that winds its way through downtown Seattle and around Lake Washington.

Breaking the tape in the half marathon was 31-year-old Daniel Vargas who came through the 13.1 miles in one hour, 5 minutes and 39 seconds—well ahead of any competition. Vargas is a Mexican Olympian who won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon in 2012 as well as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Half Marathon last year. Nearly 4 minutes back was the second-place finisher, Roosevelt Cook, who ran 1:09:13. Third place in the half was Reuben Chumba (1:09:35).

RELATED: Photos: 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle

In the women’s race, 23-year-old Dani Miller of Rochester, Michigan was the  champion in 1:17:16, nearly three minutes ahead of Emma Kertesz (1:20:05).

Miller’s story of perseverance serves as an inspiration for all runners. After the race, she shared details about her struggles as a runner. “I had the worst high-school PRs,” she admitted. “If you looked at me then, you’d say there was no way I’d be a professional athlete.”

Miller said she then went on to run in college and gained 25 pounds her first two years there. “I realized I wasn’t being a good team asset and lost the weight in the next two years,” she said. “It’s little things that can make a difference. I can tell women that—eating better, sleeping better, doing core exercises. I couldn’t even run an 8-minute pace back then. Now I’m out here and have won my first major half marathon.”

Miller, who runs under the watchful eye of Coach Kevin Hansen said she has stumbled in other Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon races like Philadelphia and San Jose, but her coach believed in her. “I’m a blessed young lady to be out here,” she said with a smile. “Kevin never lost hope in me.”

The men’s marathon was a sure thing. Paul Kattam of Beaverton, Oregon prevailed by running 2:26:16—a full 14 minutes faster than second-place finisher Bill Condon (2:40:41). Jesse Stevick was third in 2:42:11.

“I’m happy,” the 25-year-old Kattam admitted afterward. “It was my first marathon and I won it.” He had been building up his training miles for this event and used the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon as a tune-up race for Seattle. “I have been injured since December, and have been trying to get back into shape,” he said. “I hope to be serious next year for the Trials.” Kattam is currently serving in the Army as part of its World-Class Athletes Program (WCAP). He recently became a U.S. citizen.

In the women’s marathon event, Anna Corrigan of Phoenix, Arizona proved victorious with a 2:54:56 showing. She is a University of Virginia graduate and other than a visit for a track meet in college, she had never really seen Seattle before today. “I loved running by the water,” she said. “I also loved the bands. There were a lot of them at miles 4, 5, and 6. It was amazing. I live in the desert and don’t get to see a lot of trees. It’s so lush and green here. It makes you feel so alive like you want to run. This is the place to do distance.”

The other podium finishers were Sophia Liu (2:57:17, second), and Kristina Brendzel (3:05:45, third).

An inaugural 8K race was also held on Saturday. And true to the Rock ‘n’ Roll theme, all runners got a huge shot of inspiration along the way thanks to the various blues, punk, funk, and rock bands as well as the cheer teams that lined the course. A Seattle send off wouldn’t be complete without a good dose of grunge music care of hometown favorite Mudhoney that jammed at the headliner concert, which was held at the Seattle Center.