San Antonio, TX — 29-year-old Gilbert Koech led a five-man Kenyan sweep of the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon today, notching his first marathon victory since the 2005 Las Vegas Marathon. In testing, humid conditions, Koech broke from the five-man lead pack shortly after the 19-mile mark, and was headed on his way to victory in a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 39 seconds.
The race began under overcast skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, but humidity hovered at over 90 percent. Notwithstanding, American half-marathon winner Westly Keating and runner-up Shadrack Songok, both from Texas and running in their debut half-marathons, led the accompanying six marathon runners through a fast first 10 miles and reached the 10-mile mark in an aggressive time of 49:25, sub-2:10 marathon pace.
“I wasn’t concerned by the early pace because I felt comfortable,” said Koech, whose $17,500 first place prize equates to 1.26 million Kenyan schillings. “I’m looking forward to coming back next year to defend my title at this race.”
After reaching the 10.7-mile-mark where the half-marathon and marathon courses split off from one another, the six marathon runners increasingly slowed their pace reaching the half-marathon point in 1:05:39. The pack stayed together until just after the 19 miles when Koech made his move running a 4:56 20th mile to gain an initial six second advantage over eventual third place finisher James Boit, which surprised his better credentialed compatriots.
He remained on course record pace through 25 miles, but he began to suffer the effects of the fast early miles and rising temperatures. It was a difficult second half as Koech ran a split of 69:00 with a 5:45 final mile, falling just three seconds shy of the course record. None of his challengers had the firepower to close the gap that Koech had built.
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