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Limo Wins Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon

Arciniaga becomes first American to crack top-10 since 1999; Gromova wins third-straight women’s race.

Richard Limo pauses for the camera as he wins the Rock 'n'Roll San Diego Marathon. Photo:
Richard Limo pauses for the camera as he wins the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

Written by: Mario Fraioli

Kenyan Richard Limo took the lead at the 21-mile mark and never relinquished it, crossing the finish line in 2:09:56 to win the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon on Sunday. It was Limo’s first career marathon victory, an achievement that wasn’t lost on the former 5,000-meter world champion as he came to a complete stop upon crossing the finish line.

“It was very important to me,” Limo said of his victory. “This was my first marathon win and I wanted to take a very good picture. This is wonderful.”

William Chebor of Kenya was next across the finish line in 2:10:15, and American Nick Arciniaga took nearly two minutes off his personal best to finish third in 2:11:46. Arciniaga, the first American to place in the top 10 at this race since Josh Cox’s ninth-place finish in 1999, hung on to an aggressive early pace and mixed it up with the lead pack through an opening 10K of 29:34 — a personal best for the 26-year-old from Flagstaff, Arizona.

“The plan was to just sit on the leaders no matter what they were doing,” Arciniaga admitted. “I was hoping for a huge breakthrough performance. I ran strong the last 10K and was able to catch a few more guys. I was hoping for better but I’m not going to be disheartened with a two-minute PR.”

Arcianaga was part of a pack of 12 stayed that together through 11 miles before defending champion Khalid El Boumlili shook things up with a suicidal 4:26 split, a move that eventually forced him to call it quits later in the race. The lead group of Limo, Chebor, and Kenyan Leonard Mucheru hit halfway in 1:03:38, with Arcianaga and former New York City Marathon champion Hendrick Ramaala running about 30 seconds behind. Chebor and Muchero traded jabs through Mission Beach before Limo made his winning move with five miles to go.

In the women’s race, Russian Yulia Gromova ran unchallenged from mile 17 to SeaWorld, crossing the finish line in 2:27:42 to capture her third-straight victory here. She made her decisive move with just under 10 miles to go to pull away from Ethiopian Shuru Diriba, who finished second in 2:29:12.

“I’m very happy with the result,” said Gromova, who just  missed her personal best of 2:27:37, set here last year. “I didn’t believe in my victory. I didn’t believe it was real until I crossed the finish line.”

Diriba’s countrywomen took the next two spots, as Serkalem Abrah finished third in 2:32:09, and Tiki Gelana took fourth in 2:32:21.

Sergio Gonzalez of Oceanside, California won the first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego half marathon, crossing the finish line in 1:07:18. Kevin Poole of Folsom, California was second in 1:07:42, and Brad Poore of Sacramento took third in 1:08:14. Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Jacquelyne Gallegos won the womens race in 1:21:04, fifty five seconds ahead of second-place finisher Theresa Lowry. Carlsbad, California’s Jessica Brothers rounded out the top three in 1:23:11.

Some 30,000 runners descended upon the streets of San Diego this morning to take part in the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & ½ Marathon to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It was the first year a half marathon has been included in the event, one which featured 26 bands playing live music along a scenic race course that showcased America’s Finest City and a new finish line at SeaWorld.

Be sure to check out Competitor TV for complete post-race coverage, including interviews with all the day’s top finishers.