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Worthen and Gustafson Win San Francisco Marathon

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08/04/2008 - 05:02

WorthenSanFrancisco08.jpg August 4, 2008 from press release (REV) (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) Running in ideal, mid 50-degree temperatures, Chad Worthen of Sacramento, CA and Lauren Gustafson of Millbrae, CA registered victories at The San Francisco Marathon. More than 19,000 runners from all 50 states and 56 countries participated in the event's signature marathon (26.2 miles), two half marathons, and 5K run/walk. Enjoying steady growth over the past few years, the popular city-wide race once again made history as the largest multi-distance marathon "festival" ever to take place in San Francisco.

Worthen, 34, won a clear-cut men's victory with a finishing time of 2:31:52 seconds. Gustafson, 25, finished the hilly SFM course in 2:52:33. Both runners are first-time victors in this 31-year- old race.

Both winners were clearly the class of their fields, running away from the competition relatively early in the race. Worthen, who owns a 2:22:03 personal best and was a 2004 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, jettisoned off the starting line near the Ferry Building on the San Francisco Bay waterfront, and had a clear lead by the time the front runners hit the scenic out-and-back leg over the Golden Gate Bridge.

"I was surprised that there was nobody with me." Worthen said. "I was hoping to have some company, but I was all alone. After that, I just focused on staying ahead and preserving as much of a lead as I could. I really didn't know how close the runners were behind. I glanced back going around a few turns and I couldn't see anybody."

Indeed, 44-year-old Mustapha Berri of France was the only runner within shouting distance of Worthen. Berri finished second in 2:33:57. Mark Pilja, 28, of San Francisco was third in 2:38:20.

"I was hoping to run 2:28 or 2:29, but I came up a little short," Worthen said. Late in the race I hit the wall a little bit. I'm not much of a hill runner coming from Sacramento, and I understand that this is as flat a marathon course as you'll find in San Francisco, so it was good."

Berri broke away from a chase pack composed of five men mid race, and was clearly in second by 20 miles. "I tried to catch the leader, but it was too late," said Berri who is world-ranked as a masters (over 40 years old) marathoner. "But, it was a good race for me."

Pilja, who lives in San Francisco's Marina District, quit running for three years after a collegiate running career at Michigan. He now runs about six miles a day around his job as a financial loan officer, which was enough for third place in only his third competitive marathon.

GustafsonSanFrancisco08.jpg Gustafson said she was determined to run well because her mother had a heart attack several days ago, and is now recovering in a Burlingame hospital. "I dedicated my race to her," said the women's champion. "I was thinking of her every step of the way. I felt great. And the weather was absolutely perfect."

In fact, Gustafson was so inspired that she set a three-minute personal record while running away with the women's crown in her fifth marathon. Jenny Graef (Norman, OK) was runner-up female. Graef's finishing time was 3:06:56. Ashley Hansen (Sonoma, CA) placed third in 3:09:16.

Tracey McKergow, 41, of Austin, TX was the female masters winner in3:19:54.

Leif Kohler, 23 (Redmond, WA) won the accompanying "elite" half marathon, which covers the second half of the full marathon course, in 1:10:02.

"It was a good race for me. I got a lot of help from (second placer Robert Coslick of Broomfield, CO) who was with me for about seven miles," Kohler said. It's a great course, a great experience." Coslick finished a close 8 seconds behind Kohler.

Ana Morales, 26 (San Mateo, CA) recorded an excellent, solo 1:14:38 elite half marathon women's victory, which was, perhaps, the most impressive winning performance of the day. "I was planning on going out and (initially) running 6-minutes miles, but then I got with a good group of guys and picked up the pace," commented Morales, who was a prep standout at nearby Burlingame High School and also competed for the University of Notre Dame. "I felt good and had fun with it, definitely a personal record performance for me."

The victors in the companion first half marathon event were Michael Brandell (23, San Francisco) in 1:17:26 and Rebecca Eckland (26, Reno, NV) in 1:26:41. The winners of the accompanying 5K run/walk were Xabier Miranda (28, Spain) in 15:49 and Alexandra Crabb (18, ) in 18:06.

In related action, on Friday, August 1, four U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan finished a "remote" San Francisco Marathon race at Forward Operating Base Fiaz on the Pakistan border. John Rousseau (U.S. Navy) of Grayslake, IL led the foursome in a time of 3:58:01. The other finishers were U.S. Army personnel Robert Cortez (Miami, FL, 4:14:45), Alex Tabayoyon (West Richland, WA, 4:24:02), and Loren Week (Sunnyvale, CA, 5:13:10)

"I'm extremely proud of these men for their mental discipline in running under very difficult conditions in a war zone," said Lieutenant Colonel Weeks, who organized the Afghanistan cousin race of The San Francisco Marathon.

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About The San Francisco Marathon (TM)
The San Francisco Marathon enjoys success as the premier summertime marathon in the U.S. San Francisco's blend of natural beauty, big city charm, and perfect mid-summer running temperatures, make marathon running in San Francisco a truly magical experience. Race events include a full marathon, two half marathons (choose a half), 5K, and Progressive Marathon. The event's unique Cause to Run program has raised $3 million for local non-profit organizations since 2003. The San Francisco Marathon's Youth Run4Fun running program allows San Francisco's underprivileged youth, ages 7 to 17, to train for, and participate in, the marathon's events without cost.

The 2008 San Francisco Marathon is sponsored by JetBlue, Saturn, Cytomax, Organs 'R' Us, Headsweats, Smoothie King, Altrum Vitamins, CBS 5, and Athletic Endurance.