Portland, Ore. – May 20, 2012 – It was an Oregon sweep Sunday as two in-state residents took home titles at the first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon. Ryan Bak of Bend and American marathon star Kara Goucher, who trains locally with the Oregon Track Club, each prevailed in dramatically different fashions.Beneath a steady Portland mist along the scenic Willamette River adjacent to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, runners from 49 states and 16 countries kicked off Portland’s annual Rose Festival. The lead pack of 6 men, who all owned half-marathon personal bests within one minute, ran an opening mile of 4:57 through the downtown streets, before crossing the Hawthorne Bridge into east Portland.
Bak, Arizona’s Tibor Vegh and Philemon Terer of Kenya separated themselves from the competition at mile six after the steady uphill climb past the swanky business district section located along Hawthorne Blvd. The three runners stayed together until they reached the scenic downtown views on Lloyd Blvd just before mile 12, when Bak made his move to take home the victory with a time of 1 hour, 5 minutes and 5 seconds.
“This was my third weekend in a row racing and it was great to have a decent pack of guys who were all competitive. When the three of us were together until mile 12, I was thinking this is really going be a race,” said Bak, who finished fifth at last weekend’s U.S. 25k Championships and will run Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth on June 16th. “There was a lot happening with little surges here and there, and it was a great feeling to win with the sprint at the end in front of the spectators in my home state. This was my first Rock ‘n’ Roll event and it was a lot of fun and great to have it so close to home.”
With a competitive men’s race, Goucher arrived to the starting line as the most talented runner in the women’s field, using the local race as a fitness test for the upcoming Olympic Marathon in London on Sunday, August 5th. She completed the 13.1-mile event uncontested, crossing the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 5 seconds.
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