Sold-out field enjoy classic Northern California autumn day on Halloween
From Matt Dockstader
HEALDSBURG, Calif. - (October 31, 2009) - On a classic Northern California autumn day, a sold-out field of runners filled the start line at Francis Ford Coppola Winery for the 2nd Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon on Halloween. Sergio Reyes, 28, from Palmdale, CA, crossed the finish line first in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 47 seconds, while Tiffany Marley, 27, of Lake Hughes, CA was the women's winner in 1:20:13. Both set course records.
In the athlete VIP tent, Reyes commmented on the incredible experience, "fifteen minutes before the race we were all standing at the start in the pitch black with temperatures in the 40s. Then the dawn broke and the fog rose over the vineyards, and the sun started to warm the air and light the vineyards - totally inspiring! It was easily the most beautiful race I've competed in."
A rising star on the national running scene, Reyes, only three weeks ago, was the first U.S. finisher at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a personal record 2:15:30 - making this feat all the more impressive.
Josh Spiker from Ventura, CA was the runner-up in 1:07:25. Winner of the January 2009 Carlsbad Marathon, Spiker enthused about this half, "The views are absolutely awesome!"
While he maintained an even pace throughout the race, Spiker noted that the ups and downs on the course made measured breathing a challenge.
Seventy percent of this year's competitors were female, and the women delivered with some fast times led by women's winner Marley. What was her biggest advantage? "My coach", said Marley, "who just so happens to be my boyfriend, 5th place finisher Justin Patananan."
Finishing 13th overall and second women was Shawna Burger from Santa Monica, CA, in 1:21:55. Was the morning of the race entry meant to throw the competition in the lady's field? "Not so," said Burger.
Having just finished the recent Santa Monica 5000, Burger was cajoled by local friends Maria and Dorothy, who also ran but finished distantly back in the pack, to compete. "My legs are a bit jelly right now after the SM5000 and I didn't plan to compete. But a girl can only take so much of a good razzing from friends without getting up at 4:00am and representing on a gorgeous Fall morning!"
The Halloween inspired event was an athlete and crowd favorite, with all of the top finishing athletes commenting on how much fun and inspiration they gleaned from all the volunteers manning the water stations along the route and the fans cheering them on at the finish below Lake Sonoma in the end of Dry Creek Valley.
The men's and women's overall winners each received $400 cash, a Ball wristwatch and a 9-liter bottle of Shiraz from Francis Ford Coppola Winery. At the completion of the race, which had 1,560 finishers, participants rocked out to the groovin' tunes of Five AM, while enjoying wines from sixteen of the areas finest wineries.
2nd Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon
Healdsburg, CA, Saturday, October 31, 2009
1) Sergio Reyes (CA), 1:06:47*, $400, a Ball wristwatch and wine
2) Josh Spiker (CA), 1:07:25
3) Jeff Gardina (CA), 1:08:12
*course record (previous record, 1:14:36, Christian Hesch (CA), 2008)
1) Tiffany Marley (CA), 1:20:13*, $400, a Ball wristwatch and wine
2) Shawna Burger (CA), 1:21:55
3) Sarah Raitter (NV), 1:24:58
*course record (previous record, 1:20:52, Tamara Karrh (GA), 2008)
For complete race results, go to: www.runhealdsburg.com.