NAPA, Calif: March 6, 2016 - At todayís 38th Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon (NVM), two first-time competitors at the race climbed the winnersí platform. Isidore Herrera, age 25, of Simi Valley, Calif. and Catherine Beck, 30, of Clinton, NY grabbed the victories, heading the field of over 2,800 entrants on a mild, partly cloudy morning in between rain storms. Herrera won the menís race in 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 29 seconds. Beck crossed the finish line at Vintage High School in Napa in 2:52:34.
In the menís race, Herrera sailed to a solo lead from the start with an ambitious goal of finishing in about 2:15:00. Dick Beardsley set the NVM menís race record of 2:16:20 in 1987. Indeed, Herrera sailed through the 13.1-mile half marathon split point in a swift 1:07:40, on pace to a projected finish time of 2:15:20. Eventually, he was unable to keep up that effort.
"The first 16 miles went pretty easy and then the hills started slowing me down," Herrera said. My workouts have been at 5 minute pace for 20 or 21 miles, so I was pretty confident that I could do 2:15 today, but the wind and the hills made it hard. My legs started cramping."
By 22 miles, Herrera had to briefly slow to a walk.
"Soon my goal became just to finish the race," said Herrera who trains on his own and is self coached."Iím not used to the rolling hills."
Just three weeks prior, Herrera was among the starters at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles after qualifying for the race by running a 1:04:21 half marathon in Oxnard, Calif. last December. He had to drop out of the LA race after only 8 miles. It was his first attempt at the full marathon distance.
"I was really disappointed with that race, and I knew I was a lot better than that, so I signed up for Napa. I knew it was a pretty good course," said Herrera who held a comfortable lead all the way to the finish.
In the contest for the runner-up spots, Colin Carroll (31, Andover, Mass.) finished second in 2:33:41 and Matthew Evans (29, London, England) was third in 2:41:22.
"From 10 miles on, I pretty much ran on my own," Carroll said."I kept my head up looking for the eventual winner in the distance, but he was gone. I never saw him after the first mile. But I really loved the beautiful course, mostly downhill with just a couple of uphills."
Curt Casazza (44, Cameron Park, Calif.) secured the Masters (age 40 and over) menís title with a sixth place overall finish of 2:46:36.
In the womenís race, winner Catherine"Cat" Beck performed superbly in her first attempt at the 26.2-mile distance.
"I wanted some motivation to run over the winter," Beck said about her marathon debut."I looked for a race with some nice warm weather and the timing was just really nice, and I heard good things about the course, so it was a good fit," said Beck who was a 1,500-meter competitor and miler at Tufts University. Her 1,500-meter personal best of 4:17.23 was set in 2012.
Beck went out conservatively, following eventual second placer, Anna Frank (33, Bakersfield, Calif.) who had assumed the lead at 10 miles.
"I was expecting (Beck) to catch up with me," Frank admitted."I gave it my all, but hit the wall with about 5 or 6 miles left. From there I just took it one mile at a time."
Frankís effort yielded an eventual second place finish in 2:55:56. Kristen Soloway (41, Davis, Calif.) was third overall in 3:00:38 as she secured the Masters (age 40 and over) win.
NVMís scenic point-to-point, USA Track and Field certified course through the Napa Valley wine growing country hasnít changed in the eventís 38-year-old history.
The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon rewards male and female open and masters winners with oversized bottles of wine etched with their championship accomplishments. The male and female winners of the race also receive their"weight-in-wine" donated by Andretti Winery Napa Valley.
In the accompanying Greater Kiwanis Club of Napa 5K Run, Matthew Young (Davis, Calif.) in 17:22 and Lisa Heinonen-Miller (Napa, CA) in 19:55 emerged as victors.
All in all, the race organizers, headed by Co-Race Directors Rich Benyo and David Hill, were delighted about the race.
"It (the weather) turned out to be a lot more benign than what we thought it might be yesterday. It was a successful race and we donít have anything to complain about," said Benyo.
All proceeds from the Napa Valley Marathon (a non-profit organization) are donated to local charities in the Napa Valley.
Full race results for the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon will be available on the eventís web site at NapaValleyMarathon.org.
The Napa Valley Marathon appreciates generous sponsor support from Kaiser Permanente/Thrive (Presenting Sponsor and generous race day medical support), Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, Legendary Napa Valley, ASICS, CLIF Bar, Road Runners Club of America, USA Track & Field, Gatorade G Endurance, MarathonFoto, Marathon & Beyond, Napa Running Company, Running USA, KCBS AM and FM Radio, KPIX5 and KBCW, XFINITY, KVON 1440 AM, KVYN/99.3 The Vine, Wallaby Organic, Napa Smith Brewery, Andretti Winery Napa Valley, and Whole Foods Market.