NAPA, Calif.-March 3, 2019-Approximately 4,000 eager competitors lined up at the start of the 41st annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon (NVM) and inaugural Half Marathon under mild temperatures in the upper 40s that rose into the 50s mid race. In the traditional 26.2-mile full marathon race that traverses the length of the scenic Napa Valley wine producing region, Sam Long, 23, of Boulder, Colo. and Liza Reichert, 31, of Los Altos Hills, Calif. secured the overall victories. Chandler Kemp, 29, (Stanford, Calif.) and Samantha Diaz, 27, (Jackson, Wyo.) emerged as champions of the accompanying 13.1-mile half marathon event.
In the men’s competition of the full marathon, first time marathoner and eventual second placer Zack Sims, 25, (Atlanta, Ga.) held a lead for 24 miles as Sam Long (running his second marathon) followed.
“I think I got a little too excited and went out a little too quick,” Sims said while re-capping his race. “I felt great through halfway, but at mile 20 I had to stop and walk. My longest race to date is 10,000 meters on the track. I kind of ignored the advice of a lot of people who told me to be really conservative in my first marathon. I was trying to hold myself back, but I just kept rolling. And, by mile 22 I was just shot.”
About two miles later Long took the lead and didn’t relinquish it, crossing the finish line at Napa’s Vintage High School in 2 hours, 32 minutes, and 33 seconds. Sims hung on for second place with a time of 2:34:58. Third placer Greg Krathwohl, 27, (San Francisco, Calif.) was a bit further behind in 2:42:17.
Long scored his convincing marathon win buoyed by a background as a competitive professional triathlon athlete. Last year he placed second at the 140-mile Ironman Louisville Triathlon (swim-bike-run).
“I basically saw the lead motorcade (accompanying Sims) for most of the way,” Long said. “But when I saw him stop and walk at mile 23 I knew I needed to make a move. I’m definitely going to enjoy that wine.”
Men’s and women’s marathon and half-marathon overall winners each receive a double magnum of wine from Conn Creek Winery. They also earn a Napa Valley Collective Case of 12 different bottles of wine from the valley. Men’s and women’s marathon and half-marathon champions in the masters (age 40 and over) division each receive a magnum of wine.
In the women’s full marathon race, Reichert led wire to wire. Her winning time was 2:44:06-a bit slower than her personal best of 2:42:24 set in 2015. Sarah Hallas, 39, (Cotati, Calif.) placed second in 2:51:53 and Jonahmaria Weeks, 28, (Davis, Calif.) was third in 2:52:51.
Reichert met her goal for NVM: To run under 2:45:00 and earn a women’s “B” standard entry into the 2020 U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials race. Previously she qualified for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.
“It was tough today. It wasn’t as smooth as I’d hoped it would be, but I got it done,” said Reichert who gave birth to a daughter a year ago. “It was a little windy out there and around halfway I really started to feel it. There were a few men with me which helped, but I ran a lot of the race alone. I think on an ideal day I can run closer to 2:40:00.”
The inaugural half marathon competition at NVM was also deep. Chandler Kemp secured the half marathon men’s title by running conservatively behind eventual third placer Jonathan Briskman, 27, (San Francisco, Calif.) through the halfway point before taking the lead and crossing the finish line with a winning time of 1 hour, eight minutes, and 23 seconds. Chris Maxwell, 26, (Portland, Ore.) was second in 1:09:17. Briskman followed, a second behind.
“The course is great with some nice, gentle, long downhills,” Kemp said about the point-to-point route along Silverado Trail (actually, a road). “You can relax. It’s just the right grade so you don’t feel like you’re pounding downhill.”
In the women’s half marathon competition, Samantha Diaz scored a solid victory over two NVM past champions. The former middle distance runner’s winning time of 1:15:46 set a formidable standard for future female half marathoners at this event. Three-time NVM full marathon champion (and women’s course record holder) Devon Yanko, 36, (San Anselmo, Calif.) placed second in 1:18:52. Jenny Kadavy, 36, (Clayton, Calif.)-the 2014 NVM full marathon champion-was third in 1:19:16.
Diaz-who has been a runner since fourth grade and owns a personal record of 4 minutes and 40 seconds for one mile on the track-scored a convincing victory, indeed. She left the entire women’s field behind after the first mile and ran with men for the remaining distance.
“I just tried to run nice and relaxed through eight miles, and then started squeezing the trigger a little more,” said Diaz who who plans to make her debut at the marathon distance this coming Fall. “The course today was simply beautiful and the weather was perfect.”
The masters (age 40 and over) half marathon winners were Jorge Maravilla, 41, (Mill Valley, Calif.) in 1:10:25 who placed fifth overall among men and Shaluinn Fullove, 41, (Palo Alto, Calif.) in 1:21:56 who placed fourth overall among women.
In the accompanying Kiwanis Club of Greater Napa 5K Run, Timothy Englehart, 22, (Washington, DC) topped the men in 16:57 and Sarah Sears, 23, (Davis, Calif.) led the women in 17:11.
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 are available on the event’s web site at www.napavalleymarathon.org.