Posted by: Joe English | August 31, 2008

Races: James Kwambai and Edith Masai win Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, VA (August 31, 2008) –Kenyans James Kwambai and Edith Masai were crowned champions today at the 8th Annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.

Kwambai, who also won the race in 2006, finished in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 11 seconds, 22 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Tadesse Tola, who clocked in at 1:02:33.

Kenyans McDonald Ondara (1:04:45) and Samuel Ndereba (1:05:38) were third and fifth, respectively, in the men’s division with Kazuyuki Maeda of Japan (1:05:18) taking fourth place.

Tola, winner of last month’s New York City Half Marathon, pushed the pace at the beginning of the race. At the 10K mark the lead pack was reduced to Tola, Kwambai and McDonald.

Nearing mile eight, it was Kwambai’s turn to push the pace, and McDonald fell off the lead pack shortly thereafter. The race was then comprised of a two-man showdown between Kwambai and Tola, until mile 10 when Kwambai charged ahead.

“When Tadesse took off fast I ran hard to close the gap,” said Kwambai, who is preparing for the Berlin Marathon. “The weather made the race more difficult, but I am happy with the way it turned out.”

A tactical race ensued on the women’s side. Edith Masai of Kenya came from behind to win the women’s division in 1:12:54, just seconds ahead of American Katie McGregor (1:13.04).

“The women’s race was very competitive, and it intensified when three runners battled the last mile down the boardwalk,” said Matt Turnbull, Athlete Coordinator for Elite Racing. “That type of finish is exactly what you want to see, and to have an American runner right there was great for the home crowd.”

Megumi Seike of Japan was third in 1:13:05 followed by Ethiopians Adanech Zekiros (2:35:43) and Tayba Naser (2:41:09).

“Despite being 41 years old, Edith has won 3 gold medals at the World Cross Country Championships,” added Turnbull. “Her natural speed was the telling difference in the end; however, all the runners ran a great race in difficult conditions.”

Masi, who won the Falmouth Road Race in Massachusetts earlier in August, trailed McGregor for most of the race.

“The course was great and the pace was relatively even, and nobody really went out very fast,” said McGregor. “I’m preparing to run the New York Marathon in November, so this gave me a good idea of where I am with my training.”

Chad Johnson, of Charlestown, IN, won the men’s wheelchair race in 50:01, and Kelsie Kell of Fredericksburg, VA, won the women’s chair race in 1:19:51.

Will Christian, 25, from Norfolk and Renee High, 26, from Virginia Beach took top local honors as the first male and female finishers from Hampton Roads. Both earned $500 for their efforts.

16, 445 runners and walkers toed the start line in a race which featured over 20 live bands and cheerleaders at each mile throughout the oceanfront course. Both the men’s and women’s professional races were led by Saturn SKY roadsters, the official vehicles of the 2008 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

Although 6,000 miles away and seven hours different in time, over 800 soldiers at Joint Base Balad in Iraq also completed their very own Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon today in conjunction with the Virginia Beach event.

“The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon is thrilled to collaborate with runners overseas again this year,” said Erin Gaul, event manager of the race. “To have this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll simultaneously in Virginia Beach and Iraq represents the strong ties this community has with the military, and we are honored to have an opportunity to be a part of that bond.”

The overseas race involved over 1,000 runners and volunteers and was open to active duty military members currently deployed in Iraq.

“We are proud to be a part of what has already become a strong tradition of military support in the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon,” said Captain Jennifer Dunlavy, MD, USAF, MC and military coordinator of the overseas race. “We didn’t have the beach or 20 live music bands, but we certainly had all of the spirit!”

For more information on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, visit

Place, Name, Age, Country, Time, Money
1. James Kwambai, 25, Kenya, 1:02:11, $3,500
2. Tadesse Tola, 21, Ethiopia, 1:02:33, $2,000
3. McDonald Ondara, 23, Kenya, 1:04:45, $1,500
4. Kazuyuki Maeda, 28, Japan, 1:05:18, $1,000
5. Samuel Ndereba, 23, Kenya, 1:05:38, $750

1. Edith Masai, 41, Kenya, 1:12:54, $3,500
2. Katie McGregor, 31, USA, 1:13:04, $2,000
3. Megumi Seike, 21, Japan, 1:13:05, $1,500
4. Adanech Zekiros, 26, Ethiopia, 1:13:32, $1,000
5. Teyba Naser, 22, Ethiopia, 1:13:38, $750

Masters (40 and over)
1. John Piggott, 43, Williamsburg VA, 1:14:35, $500
2. Darren De Revck, 40, Boulder, CO, 1:17:24, $250

1. Edith Masai, 41, Kenya, 1:12:54, $3,500
2. Colleen De Reuck, 44, Boulder, CO, 1:14:46, $250

Local – Hampton Roads
1. Will Christian, 25, Norfolk, 1:09:00

1. Renee High, 26, Virginia Beach, 1:24:07



  1. I took part in this race and am extremely impressed with the elite runners and how the heat didn’t impact them. Then again, they can run in a little more than an hour, which was before it got pretty bad out there. The race organizers, however, put on a great event with plenty of water out there.

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