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Posted: July 22, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

(RWire) Athletics: Rodriguez, Mallon Win Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

Record race field including Valerie Bertinelli enjoy 6th edition under near ideal conditions

From Ali Cox

SONOMA, Calif. - (July 19, 2009) - Former standout Santa Rosa high school and Stanford runner Julia Mallon (nee Stamps), now residing in Miami, won her first Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon in a time of 1 hour, 22 minutes, 1 second, while Eli Rodriguez of Whittier, Calif. continued his recent winning streak, running the course for his first time victoriously in 1:09:25 on Sunday morning.

Nearly 3,000 runners for the 6th edition competed on this winding, picturesque course that started at Cuvaison Carneros Estate winery in Napa and finished in historic Sonoma Plaza. Favorite Tesfaye Dirba of Ethiopia had a half-minute lead until mile eight when his calf muscle flared, allowing Rodriguez, 25, to take charge of the race as they approached mile ten. Ed Baker of Palo Alto was runner-up with his 1:10:21, while Dirba struggled to finish third in 1:12:40.

Rodriquez and Mallon both received a Ball Watch, a double magnum of Artesa wine and $500 for first place. Second and third place finishers received $300 and $200 respectively, with a magnum of wine from Cline Cellars.

The day saw near perfect running temperatures ranging from 58 to 68 degrees for the elite runners, however, Mallon, 30, also battled a pulled leg muscle. "I felt it early in the race and had to pull back for while", said Julia. "But I was really motivated to win this race, being back home again and running on this beautiful course."

Mallon was able to hold off Lisbet Sunshine, 45, of San Francisco, who finished second overall in the women's division in 1:22:23. One of top ranked female runners in the U.S. in the 50-54 age group, Christine Kennedy of Los Altos, Calif. competed in her first Wine Country Half Marathon, finishing third in 1:24:39 beating nearly 2,000 other women, most of which who were younger.

Amongst the runners for this year's sold-out event was actress and Jenny Craig spokesperson Valerie Bertinelli. Valerie finished her first-ever half-marathon in a time of 2:12:20, placing 51st out of 133 runners in her age group. HLN meteorologist Bob Van Dillen, served as honorary chairman for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's half-marathon training program, Team Challenge. Rolf Benirschke, former place kicker for the San Diego Chargers also supported the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America and completed the race in 1:53:46.

Upon completing the 13.1 mile journey through spectacular wine country terrain, participants gathered with family, friends and other runners at the popular Wine & Music Festival, where two dozen of the area's finest wineries poured, as finishers celebrated their accomplishment.

Race director Matt Dockstader was thrilled with the outcome of the event: "We had it all today; great weather, a very competitive race, and a lot of fun! Plus, best of all, the event was able to generate almost two and half million dollars for charity thanks to the efforts of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation and Hanna Boys Center."

6th Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon
Napa / Sonoma, CA, Sunday, July 19, 2009

1) Eli Rodriguez (CA), 1:09:25, $500 plus Ball Watch and double magnum of wine
2) Ed Baker (CA), 1:10:21, $300 plus magnum of wine
3) Tesfaye Dirba (ETH), 1:12:40, $200 plus magnum of wine

1) Julia Mallon (FL), 1:22:01, $500 plus Ball Watch and double magnum of wine 
2) Lisbet Sunshine, 45, CA, 1:22:23, $300 plus magnum of wine 
3) Christine Kennedy, 54, IRL / CA, 1:24:40, $200 plus magnum of wine

For full results and more information, go to:

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