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Patrick Rizzo Wins Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle

The 29-year-old placed second at this race in 2009 and 2010.

The 29-year-old placed second at this race in 2009 and 2010. 

From the stunning views of Mt. Rainier to the peaceful Lake Washington waterfront, it was a picturesque summer day in Seattle as the city celebrated five years of Rock ‘n’ Roll running. The annual kickoff to the Seafair summer festival, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & Half Marathon brought miles of music and a moving memorial to our country’s military.

PHOTO GALLERY: Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Highlights

In the men’s half marathon, Patrick Rizzo of Boulder, Colo., finally claimed victory after second-place finishes here in 2009 and 2010. Rizzo, 29, and Australian Shawn Forrest pushed each other for the first two miles before Rizzo broke away, crossing the finish in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 58 seconds. Forrest would eventually finish third behind Jonathan Lafler, who came in over a minute behind Rizzo at 1:07:10.


Women’s half-marathon winner Nikki Gamble Leith, 29, of Edmonds, had a reason to run fast as she broke the tape in 1:25:08.

“My goal was just to finish and make it home in time for my daughter’s first birthday party. I have 60 people coming over after this!” she said with a laugh. The University of Washington grad and former soccer player wore her school colors proudly, earning cheers from locals as she ran. “Once a Husky, always a Husky. This is a great event and I love that we have this in our city. The bands were great and there were some good beats that kept my feet going.”

Behind Leith, 16-year-old Larissa Kolasinski of Issaquah was charging hard, but ended up third in 1:26:31, behind Kimberly Cloud, 37, who crossed in 1:25:47.

PHOTOS: Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & Half Marathon

MORE PHOTOS: Runners Rock Seattle!

Running his first career marathon, Yon Yilma, who grew up in Edmonds, Wash., beat out defending champion Teshome Kekobe, winning in 2:29:53. Kekobe followed in 2:36:33, with Justin Englund, 23, rounding out the top three. The top-3 finishers ran together from the start, passing the first 5K in 16:34 and the halfway point in 1:13:10. As the race wound its way toward the final stretch along Lake Washington, Yilman made what proved to be his winning move as the leaders ran onto the Interstate 90 express lanes. At mile 17, his lead over Englund was 20 seconds and by mile 20 he had extended it to a minute.

“I just knew as soon as I broke away I had to make a move and maintain my pace,” said Yilma, who coaches for the charity training group Team-in-Training. “This is one of my favorite marathons and I’ve always wanted to do it. I love the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon – when you’re tired the bands really help you out. It feels amazing. It’s a lot of work and I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”

Nuta Olaru, a veteran of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, claimed the top spot on the podium in the women’s race, winning in 2:52:40. Olaru had previously competed in the Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon in Seattle twice and finished second in the marathon last year.

“It was great weather and just a great day. I was so happy to run here again and would love to come back next year. The race was amazing and I had a lot of fun,” said the Romanian Olympian, who became an American Citizen last year.

Lisa Renteria, 35, took second in 2:59:12, and Seattle local Callie McKenzie was third in 3:14:58.

Runners started and finished at downtown Seattle Center, beneath the iconic Space Needle, where American Music Award winners Hot Chelle Rae headlined the post race concert. As participants ran along the peaceful waterfront of Lake Washington, large American flags and photos of fallen U.S. service members created a heartfelt and emotional tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

The memorial was part of a water station from wear blue: run to remember, a military support group from Joint Base Lewis McChord. More than 200 members of wear blue participated in the race, inspiring runners and spectators alike. Among them was Rachel Elizande-Powell, co-chapter president for the Joint Base Lewis McChord chapter of wear blue, running on behalf of her brother Adrian, who was killed in action.

“I felt such a sense of pride as I ran by the flags. Pride in the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, so that I can walk the streets and say what I want without fear,” she said. “It was a challenge to push through 26.2 and there were parts where I thought I was done. But my brother wasn’t a quitter, and so I can’t quit. I hope that people who saw us and heard us, they’ll know that they can be part it, part of honoring our soldiers.”

Top-3 Results

Name, Age, Hometown, Age, Prize Purse

Men’s Marathon

  1. Yon Yilma, 24, Edmonds, WA, 2:29:53
  2. Teshome Kekobe, 31, Lynwood, WA, 2:36:33
  3. Justin Englund, 23, Federal Way, WA, 2:37:24

Women’s Marathon

  1. Nuta Olaru, 42, Boulder, CO, 2:52:40
  2. Lisa Renteria, 35, Los Gatos, CA, 2:59:12
  3. Callie McKenzie, 24, Seattle, WA, 3:14:58

Men’s Half Marathon

  1. Pat Rizzo, 29, Boulder, CO, 1:05:58, $500
  2. Jonathan Lafler, 23, Maple Valley, WA, 1:07:10
  3. Shawn Forrest, 29, Australia, 1:09:03

Women’s Half Marathon

  1. Nikki Gamble Leith, 29, Edmonds, WA, 1:25:08
  2. Kimberly Cloud, 42, Turlock, CA, 1:25:47
  3. Larissa Kolasinski, 16, Issaquah, WA, 1:26:31