MH MARATHON: Run for it

Fall is in full swing after the San Francisco Giants swept the World Series and the third annual Morgan Hill Marathon blessed the South Valley with another successful race last Sunday. Once again, South Valley Endurance hit a home run with this competition.

Runners from as far away as Great Britain toed the line at the Centennial Recreation Center (CRC) at 7:30 a.m. And despite the early morning start time, the weather wasn’t chilly. Instead the temperature became balmy, soaring to the low 80s during the race.

The hilly and scenic course made the suffering worthwhile, plus delicious Super Taqueria chicken burritos waited for hungry the racers at the finish line. This year organizers added a new distance, allowing runners to take part in a 5k race. The route wasn’t flat and had a baby hill in the middle.

Volunteers at the finish line and on the race course were extremely important in making the athletic competition a success. Aid Station 15, manned by Mana Fit, near mile 24 handed out food and energized the straggling runners with zippy Latin music as they climbed upward on Main Street.

The Morgan Hill Marathon, and its other races, is a winner with runners and walkers alike. It’s definitely a fall classic that will be with us for years to come.

The winners of the 3.1-mile race bolted toward the finish at the CRC with Andrew Bergholz, 38, finished in 20 minutes, 45 seconds. San Jose’s Nick Froumis, 34, grabbed second with a time of 20:54 and San Jose’s Justin Baraona, 13, took third in 21:00.

“It was a beautiful race, great venue, very well organized,” Bergholz said. “It’s cool outside, the sun is shining, and it’s Sunday morning you can’t go wrong there.”

Baraona added, “It was fun and interesting. There was only one hill, it was an easy hill. Most of the course was flat.”

After Baraona zipped past the finish, Amanda Williams, 26, also from San Jose, won the women’s division in 21:14. Annie Bergholz, 37, of Morgan Hill got second in 21:26 and Molly McNamera, 35, of San Jose won the bronze in 24:55.

“This was a great morning to run. I didn’t feel it this morning. I didn’t run as fast as I wanted. I’m just out here to have fun.” Annie Bergholz said.

The leaders of the half marathon blazed their way to the end of the race as King City’s Jesus Campos, 27, dominated the pack with a time of 1:10:29. He didn’t expect to win the race, he said.

“It was a tough course,” Campos said. “I’m getting ready for the Fresno Marathon next weekend. I didn’t have pressure in the race. I just came to get a good workout – a tempo run.”

Ivan Medina, 26, of Hayward grabbed the silver in 1:10:57 and San Jose’s Chris Smith, 26, took third in 1:15:40.

Zach Abrams, 18, of Morgan Hill took eighth overall and first in his age group with 1:27:57.

“I did really good. I wasn’t expecting to go that fast,” he said. “Near the end I surprised myself by pushing it. It was a struggle the last two miles. The flat part gets to you after you’ve done the downhill – your legs are destroyed.”

His father Allan Abrams paced the two-hour group and finished with a time of 1:59:40.

“I paced the two-hour half marathon,” he said. “We came under at 1:59:40. And we brought a group of eight or 10 runners. They all made it under two hours. I really enjoyed it.”

The women carved the path in the 13-miler with amazing times as well.

Carrisa Jacomini, 24, from Rocklin won the gold in 1:34:33. Calina Snyder, 44, of Pacific Grove took second with 1:36:34 and Saratoga’s Kathy Claus, 60, took home the bronze in 1:37:43.

“This is my first half marathon ever. It was amazing. I met some friends on the trail. It was awesome,” Jacomini said. “I love hills. I train on them.”

Marcia Ribiero, 45, of San Jose crossed the finish line in 2:26:15.

“I felt like I was going to be the last one getting in here at the finish,” she said. “What most impressed me was the fresh smells of wood burning from chimneys, the sun rising above the hills and the shady parts on the course. It reminds me of my childhood home in Brazil.”

Morgan Hill’s Maria Bruhns, 38, was happy with her 2:41:19 finish, she said.  

“I did great,” Bruhns said. “This is my second year doing the half. I did five minutes faster than last year. I was thinking to walk up the hill on Oak Glen and Willow Springs, but I cruised through those pretty easily.”

Running any marathon is tough but with hills and heat, it only becomes more difficult. Yet Tony Torres, 43, of Cedar Glen made running 26 miles look like a sprint. He won the race overall in 2:33:49.

In his first marathon, San Jose’s Bihama Vedaste, 22, originally from Rwanda, nabbed second place overall with 2:49:16.

“The first half was tough, my feet were tight,” he said. “But in the second half I felt good.

Scott Reisdorf, 32, of Livermore completed the marathon in 2:56:00, rounding out the race’s top three.

Despite running with a pinched nerve in his back, Sean Curry, 44, of Salinas took second place in his age group.

“As I was going up the hills, I said, ‘Oh that hill isn’t so bad and I think it’s the top.’ But I kept repeating myself a lot,” he said. “None of them were too bad by themselves, but there were a lot of them. I figure because of my hip injury that 3:15 (hours) would be my best time today, but I got 3:23 instead.”

Chris Jones, 40, from San Francisco ran 26.2 miles in 3:09:17. This washis 50th marathon in less than 52 weeks.

“I have a few injuries, he said. “I think I got a major issue with going on with my foot. Even if I have a hairline fracture, it’s not going to stop me from running. You can run through a broken bone. I have a friend who finished a 100-miler with a broken foot and did it in a boot. It’s about how bad you want it and your threshold for pain.”

The top three female winners were Farmington’s Jasmine Sessions, 31, who nabbed first place with 2:56:18; Monica Zhuang, 39, of Livermore got second in 3:13:44, and Mary Nguyen, 17, from San Jose snagged third in 3:19:53.