NAPA, Calif. – March 3, 2013 – Kevin Pool of Folsom, Calif. didn’t plan on winning today’s 35th Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon. He entered the 26.2-mile race through the scenic Napa Valley wine-growing region as a training run in preparation for this coming April’s Boston Marathon. On the other hand, San Francisco’s Michelle Meyer set a goal of recording a fast time, and possibly a women’s win, at Napa. Both Pool and Meyer emerged victorious in close contests and were crowned Road Runners Club of America national marathon champions. The marathon served as Road Runners Club of America’s 2013 National Marathon Championship.
Pool, 30, broke the finish line tape at Napa’s Vintage High School in 2 hours, 21 minutes, and 58 seconds, the seventh fastest winning men’s time in the 35-year history of the event. Meyer’s time of 2:43:11 is the fourth fastest ever by a woman on the scenic, gently rolling, point-to-point course. The rural race route from Calistoga to Napa has not changed since the event’s inaugural running.
Pool, a veteran of nine previous marathons, notched his victory despite giving the other top men in the field an unintentional 40-second handicap. He was in the port-a-potty when the 7 a.m. starting gun sounded as Cheyne Inman (Vacaville, Calif.) assumed a solo early lead and held it until Pool and Frank Corrigan (Port Costa, Calif.) caught him near the 23 mile point.
“It was a really great day, perfect for running,” Inman said. “I just made some mistakes running by myself. Around 23 miles my body completely shut down.”
By 24 miles Pool moved into the lead and lengthened it to the finish line as both Corrigan (2nd, 2:22:47) and Inman (3rd, 2:25:38) both recorded personal bests.
“Part of the reason I ran here (in Napa) is because I think it has a similar downhill profile to Boston,” said Pool who was an NCAA Division III All-American at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny College and now serves as the Team Manager for the Sacramento Running Association Elite running club. “I wanted to get a little simulation to that because previously when I ran Boston my quads didn’t hold up on the downhills.”
In April, at Boston, Pool will aim to lower his marathon PR of 2:19:22 which he recorded at the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon.
Martin Rindahl, 49, of Fresno, Calif. was crowned the men’s masters (age 40 and over) champion with a 15th place finish time of2:42:21. Chris Mocko (defending overall men’s champion) had an off day, finishing 10th in 2:38:07.
Among women, Meyer, age 25, took an early lead and maintained it until 45-year-old Molly Friel (Fresno, Calif.) caught her at approximately 11 miles. The pair proceeded through halfway (13.1 miles) in 1:21:25 and briefly exchanged the lead until 20 miles where Meyer made a surge and proceeded unchallenged to victory. Friel’s finishing time of 2:44:17 garnered the runner-up women’s spot. She was also crowned the female masters (ages 40 and over) victor. Sarah Raitter (40, Reno, Nev.) placed third in 2:50:37.
“The course was really nice,” said Meyer. “I was expecting the big hill at mile 19, but it wasn’t as big at I’d thought it would be. It was bigger in my mind. It was nice running with Molly because it’s always great having someone to run with.”
Said Friel: “There’s so many variables in the marathon that need to come together on the right day, so I was pleased by my performance. In my head, it would have been nice to run 2:43, but I came close and that’s fine.”
Both Meyer and Friel lowered their personal marathon records, by 46 seconds and 52 seconds respectively. Devon Yanko (nee’ Crosby-Helms) who won last year’s women’s race in 2:39:37, a course record, entered the race but did not start.
Known as “the Biggest Little Marathon in the West,” the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon rewards male and female open and masters winners with oversized bottles of wine etched with their championship accomplishments. The male and female winners of the race also receive their “weight-in-wine” donated by the Silverado Trail Wineries Association.
After receiving the crown as 2013 men’s champion, Kevin Pool commented “I’m engaged and getting married in July, so the wine will definitely help at the wedding.”
In the accompanying Greater Kiwanis Club of Napa 5K Run, Dylan Isaacson (23, Berkeley, Calif.) was the men’s winner in 16:31 and Rylee Bowen (13, Santa Rosa, CA) was first among women in 18:06. 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson (55, Freeport, Maine) finished second in 18:48.
Benoit Samuelson was on hand during race weekend for a special Napa Valley Marathon panel presentation honoring “Women in Marathoning.” Additional panelists included female running icons/pioneers Jacqueline Hansen (1973 women’s Boston Marathon champion), Lorraine Moller (1992 Olympic Games marathon bronze medalist), and Nina Kuscsik (1972 women’s Boston Marathon champion).
Appropriately, women comprised 51 percent of the 2013 Napa Valley Marathon race field, a race record, reflecting a steady national trend of increasing female participation in road races.“We’ve slowly crept up the women to men participant ratio here,” said Co-Race Director David Hill, who along with Co-Race Director Rich Benyo has devoted years of volunteer time to the event. “This year the stars were aligned. I think traditionally women tend to be more health conscious than men. They keep us men abreast of how we should be eating and exercising.”
Benoit Samuelson echoed this opinion. “In general, I think women are better at multi-tasking,” she said. “They understand the importance of balance in one’s life. So, when you think of the mind, body, and spirit they want to make room for the body and physical fitness. Because running is so affordable and accessible it’s the ‘go-to’ sport for women. Many congratulations to the Napa Valley Marathon for passing the 50 percent female number.”
All proceeds from the Napa Valley Marathon (a non-profit organization) are donated to local charities in the Napa Valley.
The Napa Valley Marathon appreciates generous sponsor support from Kaiser Permanente/Thrive, Gatorade, ASICS, Silverado Trail Wineries Association, Marathon & Beyond, Visit Napa Valley, Napa County California, Road Runners Club of America, USA Track & Field, MarathonFoto, Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa, GU, CBS 5 and The CW, XFINITY, Napa Valley Register, KVYN/99.3 The Vine, KVON 1440 AM, Napa Running Company, KCBS 740 AM/106.9 FM, Arrowhead Water, Wallaby Organic, Running USA, Hurley’s Restaurant, Southgate Mini Storage, Napa Smith Brewery.