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Ben Bruce Wins Big At Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon

Twenty-three-year-old Anna Corrigan runs 2:44:28 to win her debut marathon.

Twenty-three-year-old Anna Corrigan runs 2:44:28 to win her debut marathon. 

Ben Bruce hasn’t competed in many marathons over the course of his professional running career, but he’s quickly gotten the hang of winning 26.2-mile races.

Lining up for his second marathon of the year—and his career—the San Diego native and adidas-sponsored athlete led from start to finish to win the Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon in 2 hours, 23 minutes and 50 seconds. In February, Bruce won his debut at Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans in 2:21:56, but for the 31-year-old, nothing tops winning in his hometown.

“It’s always good to win in my hometown,” said Bruce, who now lives and trains in Flagstaff, Ariz. “That course goes past where the cross-country championships were a couple years ago, past where the high school CIF meet was, so it means a lot.”

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Targeting a goal pace of 5:20 per mile, Bruce had help from American 1-mile record holder Alan Webb, who announced on Friday that he would pace Bruce through halfway. Coming through 13.1 miles in 1:09:38, Webb ran to mile 14 before stepping off course and catching a cab downtown to the finish line area. It was a gesture that didn’t go unappreciated by Bruce, who held a 2-1/2 minute lead at halfway over eventual second-place finisher Jameson Mora (2:27:03).

“That helped a lot because it gave me some company,” Bruce said of being paced by Webb, who is currently pursuing a career as a professional triathlete. “It was good to have him there. It means a lot to have the American record holder come out and sacrifice himself. It says a lot about his character.”

Webb, who will spend some time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista this week before being on hand for the Jim Ryun Festival of Miles celebration on Thursday night, enjoyed getting in a long extended effort in front of enthusiastic crowd while helping out his friend and former competitor.

“It was awesome,” Webb said in the finish line area after the race. “It’s fun to help somebody else. He did great and it was fun to be in the race environment, without the pressure of having to compete.”

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After Webb stepped off the course, Bruce began to slow over the hillier, more challenging second half of the course as the marine layer slowly burned away and temperatures crept into the low 70s. Mora was never able to close the gap, however, as Bruce, whose wife Stephanie is 38 weeks pregnant with their first child, drew strength from thinking about the upcoming addition to his family over the final miles heading toward the finish line outside of PETCO Park.

“I thought about him a lot, my little boy on the way,” said an emotional Bruce in the finish line chute. “It got me through the last few miles when it hurt, I thought of him. The marathon takes a lot, they make you emotional.”

In the women’s race, the first time was the charm for Anna Corrigan of Phoenix. Running in her debut marathon—and her first race over 10K—the 23-year-old broke the tape in 2:44:28 to finish 3 minutes and 10 seconds up on second-place finisher Bonnie Axman, 29, of San Diego.

“It was just really fun. All I wanted to do was have fun,” said Corrigan, who finished up grad school last year at Cal-Berkeley, where she studied civil and environmental engineering. “I’ve never run a marathon before. The energy was amazing. I don’t think I could have gotten through it without everyone cheering and all the bands.”

Corrigan, Axman and eventual third-place finisher Andrea Duke (2:57:55), passed 10K together in 38:03, well clear of the rest of the field. By halfway, Corrigan had opened up a gap, passing 13.1 miles in 1:20:23, just over a minute up on Axman.

“All the other runners were really nice,” Corrigan said. “In the beginning I was just kind of talking with some of the other girls that were up front and what times they were trying to run and we were all kind of working together. It was really fun.”

With personal bests of 16:25 and 33:58 for 5K and 10K, respectively, Corrigan isn’t your typical 26.2-mile novice, but a recent illness slowed her training and forced her to readjust her goals heading into the race. None of that mattered on Sunday morning, however, as Corrigan showed the poise of a veteran in her long-distance debut, finishing less than 90 seconds short of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time of 2:43:00.

“My goal was under three hours,” admitted Corrigan. “[A faster time] was my original goal, but then I got sick and tired and didn’t really train as much but it was nice to know I could do it. I was hoping the course wasn’t too hilly, but I must have gotten a lot of good training in in college. It felt really good. To be honest, I’m tired. I was happy to see the finish line.”

Ninety-one-year-old Harriette Thompson, from North Carolina, finished the marathon in 7:07:42. Thompson, who is a cancer survivor, became the second oldest marathon finisher in U.S. history and set a new age-group record.

Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon Results

1. Ben Bruce, 31, Flagstaff, AZ, 2:23:50, $1,000
2. Jameson Mora, 30, Paso Robles, CA, 2:27:03, $750
3. Matt Lenehan, 22, Mountain View, CA, 2:38:27, $500
4. Jeffrey Sadler, 25, Austin, TX, 2:38:32
5. Todd Braje, 38, San Diego, CA, 2:38:34

1. Anna Corrigan, 23, Phoenix, AZ, 2:44:28, $1,000
2. Bonnie Axman, 29, San Diego, CA, 2:47:38, $750
3. Andrea Duke, 35, Schertz, TX, 2:57:55, $500
4. Sabrina Piras, 24, San Diego, CA, 2:59:05
5. Catherine Lisle, 29, Albuquerque, NM, 3:00:42