Omae, Miller win 2012 P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon
Tempe, Arizona – January 15, 2012 – A soft cloud cover and cool temperatures graced the 9th annual P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & ½ Marathon to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as more than 25,000 runners toured the neighboring cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. The race debuted two brand new courses, with new start lines and a more scenic route.
In the men’s full marathon race, Peter Omae reached the final straightaway and took one last look over his shoulder. He knew he had to wait another 75 meters before he could start celebrating.
Omae, a Kenyan living in Worcester, Massachusetts, lifted his arms in triumph when he broke the tape in 2 hours, 24 minutes and 47 seconds – 11 seconds up on Chad Ware of Fort Huachuca, Arizona. For the 33-year-old Omae, it was his second marathon in a week. He was runner-up last Saturday at the Mississippi Blues Marathon in 2:21:12.
“When you cross [the finish line] is when you celebrate,” Omae said after the race. “You can’t celebrate with 50 meters to go. I was not expecting to win because I ran a marathon last week, so I was hoping just to get top three. I tried to push with the other guy to 24 miles and I knew that guy was very strong. At 24 miles I started to push fast.”
A group of three, including Omae, Ware and Roosevelt Cook (who finished 9th in 2:33:17) went through halfway in 1:14:01, with Jeremy Zarins of Tempe just a few seconds back. Omae and Ware eventually pulled away from Zarins by 24 miles and fought each other stride for stride nearly all the way to the finish line.
“I was trying to go for the win today,” said Ware, who has a 2:19:16 personal best. “ I was hoping to run in the low-2:20’s. He was just a little bit stronger at the end.”
In the women’s race, Trisha Miller of Missoula Montana, broke the tape in a marathon for the first time in her career, posting a winning time of 2:49:12.
“I was shooting to go under 2:50,” said Miller, whose previous personal best was 2:51. “That’s a huge PR for me.”
Tanya Gallagher of Phoenix was the runner-up in 2:51:24, while Tere Derbez Zacher of Scottsdale placed third in 2:53:45.
Miller held a 1:05 lead over Zacher at halfway, passing 13.1 miles in 1:25:26, while Gallagher went through in 1:26:45. By 20 miles Miller had a 1:38 advantage over Gallagher and continued to extend that lead over the final 10K. Miller’s second half was a 1:23:46, an impressive negative split
“I had an inkling that maybe I’d get top five,” Miller said, “but honestly a win was beyond anything that I could have ever imagined. I’m speechless. It was awesome.”
In the men’s half-marathon, Dylan Wykes, a 28-year-old Canadian currently training in Flagstaff, Arizona, separated himself from the sound of starter’s pistol to win in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 38 seconds, nearly 6 minutes up on second-place finisher Tibor Vegh of Flagstaff, who crossed the finish line in 1:08:32. Jon Harmon of Phoenix was third in 1:08:53.
“I was hoping maybe someone would be willing to go with me the first 5K or 10K,” Wykes said afterward. “But it is what it is. I was prepared to run alone. I wanted to run hard. I really got up for this race.”
With two of the slots already accounted for on the Canadian team, Wykes is hoping his current momentum can carry him all the way to London.
“I’ve got a bit of work to do but it’s a good goal to have,” Wykes said of his Olympic qualifying attempt.
In the women’s half marathon, Phoenix native and 5,000/10,000-meter track specialist Sara Slattery of Boulder, Colorado broke the tape in 1:16:24 to win by 2:10 over Dorota Gruca of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Allison Krausen of Edwards Colorado rounded out the top three in 1:18:43.
“It’s fun to be able to race at home with my friends and family there to support me,” said Slattery, who hopes to make her debut marathon next year. “It was fun. It was good to start the season here in my old backyard.”
A high school teammate of Sally Mayerhoff, who won the marathon here last year and died in a tragic bike accident two months later, Slattery had her friend in mind throughout the race.
“Sally was really tough,” Slattery remembered. “I didn’t feel great out there. I felt a little tired and sluggish, so whenever I hit a rough patch out there I thought of Sally and she pulled me through.”
Tributes to Meyerhoff took place throughout race weekend. All runners were given black ribbons to wear, and elite athletes wore special bibs bearing Sally’s image. Trisha Miller, winner of the women’s marathon, became the first to receive the Sally Meyerhoff Memorial Trophy, a tradition that will continue, along with the retirement of the last number Sally wore, F1.
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman completed his 5th annual Mayor’s Run for Wellness, raising money for local charities by running the half-marathon course twice. His official time for the second half-marathon was 2:29:51.
The 10th annual P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & ½ Marathon to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will return Sunday, January 20, 2013.