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Nicholas Hilton Breaks Course Record At Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon

American Olympian Janet Bawcom places first in the women’s half establishing new event mark.

American Olympian Janet Bawcom places first in the women’s half establishing new event mark.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — More than 17,000 runners took to the streets of Savannah this morning to participate in the 4th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon & Half Marathon

Nicholas Hilton, 25, of Flagstaff, Ariz., came out strong in the marathon, leading the entire way and finishing in 2 hours, 21 minutes and 31 seconds, shattering the course record by eight minutes. Hilton was followed by second place finisher Belay Kassa, 33, of Ethiopia in 2:33:07. Zaven O’Bryant, 28, of Atlanta made his debut in 2:34:45.

“My coach told me to find a race in a location where I wanted to go and I’ve always wanted to visit Savannah and it seemed like a great event so I chose to come here,” said Hilton. “Considering where I’m at with my training right now I’m really, really pleased with how the race went. It was definitely a flat course, with a little bit of roll, which is great and everyone cheering along the course was fantastic.”

RACE PHOTOS: Course Records Fall At Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah

Wilmington, N.C., resident Tara Martine, 32, won the women’s marathon in 2:59:12. She was not expecting to win, but at mile 22 she took the lead and held on for victory. Jennifer McGranahan, 35, of Pensacola, Fla., finished second in 3:04:46 followed by third-place finisher Rebecca Webb, 31, of Abingdon, Va., in 3:10:27. All three women on the podium ran new personal records.

“I saw the woman ahead of me around 15 miles and she looked really strong,” said Martine. “I thought there is no way I am going to catch up to her so I am going to run my race and try and get my sub three. Around mile 22 I caught up to her and she said, ‘congratulations you’re running strong go for it’ and I was able to hold on to the end.”

Mexican Olympian Daniel Vargas, took the men’s half marathon, finishing in 1:04:20. His brother Juan Vargas placed second in 1:06:41. Nathan Haskins, 26, of Atlanta, Georgia rounded out the top three men’s half-marathon finishers in 1:10:19.

American Olympian Janet Bawcom, 36, who lives in Rome, Ga., when not training in Flagstaff, also broke the course record, winning the women’s half marathon in 1:13:05. Lindsey Scherf, 28, of Chapel Hill, N.C., finished second in 1:14:26 and Morgan Van Gorder, 24, of Atlanta placed third in 1:20:29.

I went out there and tried to do a hard run,” said Bawcom. “I fell off in the middle but then I picked it up again. I really wanted to run under 73 but I can’t complain. A win is a win.”

More than 17,000 runners are participating in various races as part of Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah weekend, including today’s marathon, half marathon and relay, as well as Sunday’s new 5K event, 1-mile and KiDS Rock. All finishers will earn a medal at each race. Runners who participated in both Saturday and Sunday’s events will earn a special Remix Challenge medal to commemorate their accomplishment.

American Idol winner Phillip Phillips headlined the finish line festival along with performances by Cranford Hollow and Nickel Bag of Funk. The event is famous for lining the race route with live, local bands and enthusiastic cheerleaders.

2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Results

Name, Age, Hometown, Time, Prize

Men’s Marathon

1. Nicholas Hilton, 25, Flagstaff, AZ, 2:21:31, $1,000*

2. Belay Kassa, 33, Ethiopia, 2:33:07

3. Zaven O’Bryant, 28, Atlanta, GA, 2:34:45

Women’s Marathon

1. Tara Martine, 32, Wilmington, NC, 2:59:12, $500

2. Jennifer McGranahan, 35, Pensacola, FL, 3:06:46

3. Rebecca Webb, 31, Abingdon, VA, 3:10:27

Men’s Half Marathon

1. Daniel Vargas, 30, Mexico, 1:04:20, $750*

2. Juan Vargas, 37, Mexico, 1:06:41, $200*

3. Nathan Haskins, 26, Atlanta, GA, 1:10:19

Women’s Half Marathon

1.  Janet Bawcom, 36, Flagstaff, AZ, 1:13:05, $750*

2. Lindsey Scherf, 28, Chapel Hill, NC, 1:14:26, $500*

3. Morgan Van Gorder, Atlanta, GA, 1:20:29

*Includes time bonus