Japan’s Rei Ohara wins women’s race easily, leading her country to a 1-2-3 sweep.
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – With warm temperatures and high humidity, the 12th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon crowned two new champions in the men’s and women’s races on Sunday morning. Nicholas Kurgat of Kenya was the first across the finish line on the Virginia Beach boardwalk, covering the 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 45 seconds. Running her first race in the United States, 21-year-old Rei Ohara from Japan won the women’s race in 1:13:38.
The men’s half marathon was a competitive, with four runners in contention as the course looped through Camp Pendleton and back along General Booth Boulevard just past nine miles. It was then that Kurgat took charge as the leaders approached the oceanfront. He continued to stretch out his lead, eventually winning by six seconds over second-place finisher Takuji Morimoto of Japan (1:04:51). This marks the 11th consecutive year a Kenyan man has claimed victory at the event.
“At ten miles I looked around and I was feeling pretty good. At that point I knew I had a shot to win. When I saw the water and then I saw the 20K marker I decided to go,” said Kurgat, who trains in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and completed his second race since suffering an Achilles injury earlier in the year. “It was a very difficult for me to recover from my injury and get back in the shape I was before. I’m happy to win the race and even more pleased to see my time improve.”
Will Christian of nearby Norfolk, VA, was the top American, finishing seventh in 1:07:43.
This was the eighth year that Japan has sent elite runners from their national corporate championships to Virginia Beach. Ohara, who finished fourth at the Corporate Half Marathon Championships this year, overcame an illness earlier in the week to become the third straight Japanese woman to win the event.
“Up until about 10K we had a large lead group, but because of my condition I thought it was better to stay with the group and see how it went,” said Ohara, who claimed her first half marathon victory. “The lead pack started to break up around 15K and at that point Chihiro Takato and I decided to push the pace. Because I wasn’t feeling well before, I didn’t really think about what I was going to do in the race. To win, despite not feeling well, gives me a lot of confidence that now I can move up to the next level and compete with the best.”
Chihiro Takato of Japan, only 21, finished second in 1:14:10. Perry Shoemaker, 41, of Vienna, VA., was the top American and top Masters runner, finishing eighth at 1:22:21.
Olympic gold medalist and Hampton Roads native Francena McCorory joined Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms as the official race starters. McCorory, who attended Bethel High School, returned home from London on Friday night and delighted runners, wearing the gold medal she won anchoring Team USA’s 4 x400 meter relay team.
Just eight days away from the 40th anniversary of his historic Olympic marathon victory in Munich, a moment which ignited a cultural running boom in the United States, Frank Shorter completed his longest run in over five years, finishing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon.
“It was personal for me as I wanted to run a race as close to the 40th anniversary as I could,” said Shorter, a founder of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “This morning I felt good and made a spur of the moment decision to jump in the field. Everything really came full circle for me out on the course. The idea that 40 years later I can still be out here participating in distance running, to compete and have the same feeling of effort and satisfaction was special. I’ve run this course before and I really liked it.”
Capping an annual Labor Day Weekend tradition, Grammy Award winning rock band Train served as the headliner for Sunday’s post-race concert on the beach.
For complete results, photos and more, visit: runrocknroll.competitor.com/virginia-beach
Results – Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Place, Name, Age, Country, Time, Prize
1. Nicholas Kurgat, 33, Kenya, 1:04:45, $2,000
2. Takuji Morimoto, 25, Japan, 1:04:51, $1,500
3. Henry Rutto, 30, Kenya, 1:05:01, $1,000
4. Ryo Matsumoto, 21, Japan, 1:05:58, $750
5. Samuel Ndereba, 35, Kenya, 1:06:00, $500
1. Rei Ohara, 22, Japan, 1:13:50, $2,000
2. Chihiro Takato, 21, Japan, 1:14:10, $1,500
3. Yuri Kano, 33, Japan, 1:15:26, $1,000
4. Krista De Chene, 25, Canada, 1:16:08, $750
5. Hellen Jemutai, 30, Kenya, 1:16:31, $500