California’s fastest half-marathon lived up to its billing Sunday as American Meb Keflezighi set a new U.S. 20k record and bettered his personal best by 25 seconds winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in a time of 1:01:00. Keflezighi’s 20k split of 57:52 broke Ryan Hall’s standing 20K record of 57:54 set in 2006.
“The other runners looked like they were struggling with the 4:30 pace early on, so I decided to leave the pack and go on my own,” said Keflezighi, who pulled a way from the pack just after mile 3, competing in a showdown against the clock. “It was a great atmosphere out there today; I just wanted to maintain a solid pace through 10 miles and then see what I had left. I ran a personal best by 25 seconds and I’m 34, so I am very excited with my performance.”
A 19-time U.S. Champion, Keflezighi’s half marathon time ranks him number three all-time on the American list for a record standard course. He sits behind only Mark Curp’s 1:00:55 from 1985 and Ryan Hall’s American record 59:43 from 2007.
“When everyone was coming at me over the final miles it was really fun, I gave them all thumbs up to help cheer them on as well,” added Keflezighi, whose pending 20k record reclaimed the title he held before Hall. “As Roger Craig said ‘I did it today’ and it’s just nice to be healthy. I’m ready for New York and look forward to continuing my marathon training.”
The women’s race was led by Belainesh Gebre of Ethiopia who crossed the line in 1:11:24. Bay Area resident Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, who made her Olympic debut for the U.S. in Beijing, finished a close second with a new personal best of 1:11:46. Her previous half-marathon best of 1:11:47 was set in 2008.
“Last week was a high mileage week and I didn’t feel that great out there,” said Lewy-Boulet, who is training for the ING New York City Marathon. “I skipped the World Half Marathon Championships to run here in my backyard because I wanted to support our local race. I set a personal best which is great, and I’ll be back next year.
Dan Cruz for the IAAF