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Young, Ominami Win America's Finest City Half Marathon

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08/18/2008 - 03:49

Justin_Young.jpg August 18, 2008 By Patrice Malloy from Running USA wire (SAN DIEGO CA) For the first time since 1987, an American male has claimed the overall victory at the 31st America's Finest City Half Marathon Presented by Nissan held this Sunday morning in San Diego. Justin Young of Colo. put his training regime to the test, winning in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 46 seconds. Defending women's champion, Hiromi Ominami , of Japan duplicated her 2007 victory finishing in 1:12:47, two seconds faster than her 2007 effort. Both earned $1500 for their victories with Ominami pocketing a $500 bonus for being a past champion.

A record field of over 7,900 runners from 47 states and 16 countries participated in the sold-out America's Finest City Half Marathon and its accompanying AFC 5K under sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 60s to lower 70s.

Young, 29, was the only man to stray from the large chase pack trailing early-leader Christian Hesch . Young patiently claimed the lead at mile 5 and never looked back, for the most part, anyway.

"I didn't feel confident that I was going to win until I was at the top of the hill," said Young, referring to the race's infamous 6th Avenue hill, a challenging uphill stretch of the course leading up to the finish in Balboa Park. "You never know what the Kenyans are capable of," continued Young.

Kenyans have claimed victories in 12 of the last 20 overall AFC Half finishes.

"My training has been going very well. I felt pretty confident that I could run the pace I set for myself," said Young, who has been logging 130 mile a week training sessions in the outskirts of Boulder. Young has run the second fastest U.S. marathon time of this year (2:13:54 at the Rotterdam Marathon) and has his sights set on a Twin Cities Marathon victory in October.

Kenyan Joseph Chirlee , the only semi-serious threat to Young in the later miles, chalked up the upset to a very slow early pace and not enough time to make up for it. "I didn't realize how slow we were going," said Chirlee, who had never lost to an American-born competitor until this race. "By the time I realized he (Young) was serious, it was too late."

Chirlee and Jynocel Basweti finished second and third in 1:06:40 and 1:07:15, respectively. Hesch did not finish.

In the women's race, Ominami, Hyvon Netich (KEN) and Zemedkun Gebre Belainesh (ETH) ran together for most of the race until Ominami pulled way in the final mile for the win. Ngetich, 23, finished 12 seconds back (1:12:59) for second place with Belainesh finishing third (1:14:33).

"My goal was for my sister and I to go 1-2 like last year," said Hiromi, 32, through an interpreter. "But Takami was not in good shape today."

Takami Ominami , Hiromi's identical twin sister and last year's runner-up, finished fifth in 1:16:47. American Sally Meyerhoff of Arizona placed fourth in 1:15:43.

The event benefits the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and has raised over $2.3 million for non-profit organizations. The event is produced by Neil Finn Sports Management, Inc. of San Diego.

31st America's Finest City Half Marathon Presented by Nissan
San Diego, CA, Sunday, August 17, 2008

1. Justin Young (USA / CO), 1:05:46, $1500
2. Joseph Chirlee (KEN), 1:06:40, $1000
3. Jynocel Basweti (KEN), 1:07:15, $750
4. Mario Macias (USA / CO), 1:07:57, $500
5. Trent Briney (USA / AZ), 1:08:08, $300
Masters (40+): Rick Herr (USA / CA), 1:17:55, $300

1. Hiromi Ominami (JPN), 1:12:47, $2000 ($1500 plus $500 past winner bonus)
2. Hyvon Ngetich (KEN), 1:12:59, $1000
3. Zemedkun Gebre Belainesh (ETH), 1:14:33, $750
4. Sally Meyerhoff (USA / AZ), 1:15:43, $500
5. Takami Ominami (JPN), 1:16:47, $300
Masters (40+): Anette Ronnerman (USA / IL), 1:26:53, $300

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