October 30, 2006
Records tumble at Big Sur Half-Marathon
By DENNIS TAYLOR
Herald Staff Writer
Course records tumbled, quite predictably, at the fleet feet of the world-class cast of runners populating the pack Sunday in the fourth running of the Big Sur Half-Marathon, a 13.1-mile gallop through downtown Monterey, along Cannery Row, down the scenic coast and back.
A star-studded field included former Olympians, numerous NCAA All-Americans, a U.S. champion, and, of course, a couple of Kenyans, a combination that resulted in the fastest pace ever in both the men's and women's divisions.
The overall champion, former Stanford star Ian Dobson, broke the tape in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 32 seconds in the first half-marathon he's ever run. That time was the fastest ever recorded on the Big Sur course, besting the 1:05.12 set in 2004 by Michael Aish of Gunnison, Colo.
"A 10K was as far as I'd ever gone. I'm more of a track runner," said Dobson, a nine-time All-American in college and an NCAA runner-up at 5,000 meters. "I knew I wasn't going to run away from these guys early, so my strategy was to sit behind the lead as long as I could and hope I could last. I knew I'd probably be faster than the other guys for a mile, so I figured I'd be all right if I could stay close until the end."
Dobson was pushed to the finish line by Fernando Cabada, a U.S. champion at 25K, who finished in 1:02.45. McDonald Ondara, a Kenyan now living in Santa Fe, N.M., was third overall in 1:03.12.
"We've run against each other many times. I ran against him a lot in college, mostly in cross country, so I know a lot about him," Dobson said. "In fact, we're really good friends."
The women's race, equally loaded, featured a one-two finish by U.S. Olympians Jennifer Rhines and Kate O'Neill, pro teammates who, like Dobson, are training at 8,000 feet in Mammoth Lakes.
Rhines loped to a course-record time of 1:12.18, and placed 16th overall, finishing with a solid lead on O'Neill, who was clocked at 1:16.33. The previous women's best at the Big Sur Half was a 1:15.13, set two years ago by Nicole Aish, of Gunnison, Colo.
Brooke Wells, a 2002 Carmel High graduate, now living in San Francisco, placed fourth among the women with a time of 1:17.58. She was 25th in the field. Piedmont's Heather Gibson finished third in 1:16.56.
"The women's pack broke up pretty early, actually. I was running with a man during the first part of the race, but basically ended up running by myself the rest of the way," said Rhines, a Team USA marathoner. "I pulled away from the other women during the first mile or two. I knew where I stood because I saw Kate (going the opposite direction) when I was coming back (toward the finish line) after the turn-around."
O'Neill, an Olympic 10K runner, was competing at the longer half-marathon distance for the first time in her career, and wasn't necessarily focused on winning the event.
"I tried to be conservative today to make sure I'd have some energy left at the end," she said. "I've been a 10K specialist until now, but I'd love to move up in distance, so this was a good place to start. But once you get to six miles, you're usually done. And at that point (in a half-marathon), you're only halfway. So, for me, it was mostly about getting past that, mentally."
Monterey's Alexis Waddel, a world-class triathlete and former runner-up in this event, said she ran her own race, avoiding the temptation to keep pace with the nation's elite distance runners.
"I'm a triathlete first, and I just can't compete right now with Olympians. It's two different types of training, so I really didn't attempt to hang with them today," said Waddel, who said she's also been fighting mysterious respiratory problems recently. "I figured if I could hold a six-minute pace, that would be good, and I came within 45 seconds of my (personal record), which is very satisfying."
Her time, 1:22.05, was good for eighth in the women's division, 37th overall.
The first Monterey Peninsula runner across the finish line was Jeff Magallanes of Seaside, who was second in masters, in 1:15.11. He was 21st overall.
"I ran with my solo coach, Dwight Smith. We were working together today, but he did almost all of the work," said Magallanes, who was 19th overall in the 2005 race. "Dwight was willing to sacrifice himself today for some of the rest of us, which is the kind of guy he is, and the result was that I ran the fastest I've ever run. I did a 1:15.12 three or four years ago, and never thought I'd run that fast again, so I'm really ecstatic."
Smith crossed the line right behind Magallanes at 1:16.45.
Local runners who won their age division included Kevin Magallanes of Seaside, (male 12-15, 1:42.59), Ashley Madison of Monterey (female 12-15, 2:04), Daniel Tapia of Castroville (male 16-19, 1:16.19), James Migletz of Seaside (male 35-39, 1:17.36), Lisa Miller of Pacific Grove (female 40-44, 1:30.06), Dan Zulaica of Carmel (male 45-49, 1:19.39), Stella Gibbs of Pacific Grove (female 45-49, 1:31.26), Don King of Salinas (male 60-64, 1:36.48), Nelly Wright of Pacific Grove (female 60-64, 1:44.18), Ignacio Perez of Soledad (male 50-54, 1:26.44), Rod MacKinley of Pebble Beach (male 65-69, 1:37.53), Hansi Rigney of Carmel (female 65-69, 1:44.07), Frances Sackerman of Carmel (female 75-79, 2:26.00).
Dobson and Rhines each won $2,000 as overall male and female champions, and each also got a $1,000 bonus for setting course records.