Savannah, Ga. – November 8, 2014 – It was a cool and beautiful morning in Savannah with perfect running temperature and fast times prevailed. More than 17,000 runners took over the Spanish Moss lined streets to participate in the 4th annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon & 1/2.
Nicholas Hilton, 25, of Flagstaff, Arizona made his way to the start line ready to give it his all. Hilton came out strong, taking and holding the lead most of the 26.2 miles all the way to the tape finishing at 2:21:31 and shattering the marathon course record by eight minutes. Hilton was followed by second place finisher Belay Kassa, 33, of Ethiopia in 2:33:07 and third place finisher Zaven O’Bryant, 28, from Atlanta, GA making his marathon debut in 2:34:45.
“My coach told me to find a race in a location where I wanted to go and I’ve always wanted to visit Savannah and it seemed like a great event so I chose to come here,” said Hilton, who won the first marathon of his career. “Considering where I’m at with my training right now I’m really, really pleased with how the race went. It was definitely a flat course, with a little bit of roll, which is great and everyone cheering along the course was fantastic.”
Wilmington, North Carolina resident Tara Martine, 32, won the women’s marathon in 2:59:12. She was not expecting to win, but at mile 22 she took the lead and held on for victory. Jennifer McGranahan, 35, of Pensacola, Florida finished second in 3:04:46 followed by third place finisher Rebecca Webb, 31, of Abingdon, VA in 3:10:27. All three women on the podium ran new personal records.
“I saw the woman ahead of me around 15 miles and she looked really strong,” said Martine. “I thought there is no way I am going to catch up to her so I am going to run my race and try and get my sub three. Around mile 22 I caught up to her and she said, ‘congratulations you’re running strong go for it’ and I was able to hold on to the end.”
Olympian Daniel Vargas, 30, from Mexico took the men’s half marathon finishing in 1:04:20. His brother Juan Vargas, 37, of Mexico placed second in 1:06:41. Nathan Haskins, 26, of Atlanta, Georgia rounded out the top three men’s half marathon finishers in 1:10:19.
Olympian Janet Bawcom, 36, who lives in Rome, Georgia when not training in Flagstaff, Arizona also broke the course record winning the women’s half marathon in 1:13:05. Lindsey Scherf, 28, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina finished second in 1:14:26 and Morgan Van Gorder, 24 of Atlanta, Georgia placed third with a PR of 1:20:29.
“I went out there and tried to do a hard run,” said Bawcom. “I fell off in the middle but then I picked it up again. I really wanted to run under 73 but I can’t complain a win is a win.”
More than 17,000 runners are participating over race weekend, which included today’s marathon, half marathon and relay as well as Sunday’s new 5k, 1 mile and KiDS Rock. All finishers will earn a medal at each race, however runners who participated in both Saturday and Sunday’s events will earn a special Remix Challenge medal to commemorate their accomplishment.
American Idol winner Phillip Phillips headlined the finish line festival along with performances by Cranford Hollow and Nickel Bag of Funk. The event is famous for lining the race route with live, local bands and enthusiastic cheerleaders.