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Tuesday, 23 July 2019 22:14

Runners Celebrate Summer at Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

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Oakland’s John Williams wins men’s half-marathon, Dawn Grunnagle of Dallas, TX wins women’s race; 13.1-miles of racing and tasting featured 40 wineries at the finish line Wine Tasting Festival; For the first time event weekend featured two days of running with the Rosé 5k taking place on Saturday - SONOMA VALLEY – July 21, 2019 - With most of the United States sweltering from a record-breaking heat wave this weekend, cool temperatures and overcast skies greeted thousands of runners at the 2019 Napa To Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon. Entrants from all 50 states and 15 countries gathered at Cuvaison Winery on Sunday morning for a scenic 13.1-mile tour full of beautiful vineyards, rustic farms and lavish estates.

Oakland’s John Williams was the first across the finish line with a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes and 11 seconds. His margin of victory was almost a full 9 minutes over 2nd place finisher John Litzenberg III (1:21:01). Charles Madden of San Francisco finished third in 1:21:52.  

“I first raced this event back in 2006 and finished in something like 2 hours, 15 minutes so I’ve been coming back every year since then and now I’m over an hour faster,” said Williams. “I love this event and all the people who get up early and cheer for the runners outside their houses. It’s super early and it’s fun to have people come out to support all of the participants.”

The women’s race was a closer result with Dawn Grunnagle, of Dallas, TX, earning the victory with a time of 1 hour, 21 minutes and  21 seconds. Mill Valley’s Phebe Ko finished second in 1:21:38.

“It’s such a pretty course, running through the countryside and seeing all of the beautiful homes. Everyone in the community is so nice and laid back,” said Grunnagle, who finished third overall and has already qualified for next February’s 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, GA.

In Saturday’s 5k race, Rich Velazquez of New York City won in 17:25 with Napa local Rudy Reyes second in 18:03. The women’s Rosé 5k race went to Courtney Ackerman of Wilmette, Illinois in 19:36 with Cathy Adamo of nearby Castro Valley second in 19:53.

All of the weekend’s events finished in historic Sonoma Plaza in front of City Hall and participants celebrated with tastings from 40 wineries at the post race Wine Tasting Festival. Also for the first time in 2019, the American Cancer Society joined seven charities as a national featured charity partner this year as part of its DetermiNation program. Over the event’s 16-year history, charity participants have raised more than $25 million for a variety of worthy causes and nonprofit organizations.

“We were lucky to enjoy perfect weather conditions this weekend, with overcast skies at the start line and the sun started peeking through the clouds just as the first wine was poured,” said Alex Bennett, Executive Race Director. “The wine country region of Napa and Sonoma Country is truly one of the special places in the world, we were delighted to give runners the opportunity to experience it over two days of events in 2019.”

The 17th annual Napa To Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon and Rosé 5k will return on the weekend of July 18-19, 2020. Runners can take advantage of an exclusive pre-sale registration through Sunday, July 28th to secure their place on the starting line. For complete results, photos and more, visit

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