Kevin Pool of Folsom and Michelle Meyer of San Francisco won men’s and women’s titles today at the 35th annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon.
Pool took the lead on Oak Knoll Avenue in Napa, less than four miles from the finish line. He completed the 26.2-mile race from Calistoga to Napa in a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes, 58 seconds and was cheered by spectators, race organizers and volunteers as he hit the finish-line tape at Vintage High School.
Pool went into the race with the intent of using it as a hard training run in preparation for next month’s Boston Marathon. He ended up making a charge in the last half of the race, overtaking Frank Corrigan of Port Costa, and Cheyne Inman of Vacaville.
“I’ve run on the course a few times before, so I’m pretty familiar with it,” said Pool. “I knew there’s a couple of good hills in the first five miles. My plan was to run the first 10K pretty easy and then just get rolling. I just got in a groove of 5:30s through about 12 (miles). After the half I started running 5:10s and feeling good.”
Corrigan was second in a time of 2:22:47, a personal record.
“I regained myself for the last three miles there,” said Corrigan. “Runner-up, but I feel super good about it.”
Inman, the leader for much of the race, was third in a time of 2:25:38. It was a personal record for Inman.
“I felt relaxed, but I couldn’t hold up,” said Inman. “These guys are really good. You can’t be too disappointed. But obviously I was trying to win it. I just made some mistakes by going by myself so early. I should have sat and waited. You never know until you try it.”
Inman had as much as a 45-second lead at the mile-15 marker.
Meyer won the women’s title, clocking 2:43:11. She was 18th overall.
“I’m very excited. I was not expecting to win to be perfectly honest,” said Meyer, who trains with the Impala Racing Team. “I had a really good group to train with. The course is beautiful and we lucked out with the weather. Just all the variables came together, which is great.”
The weather was on the warmer side than it has been in recent years, with a temperature of 51 at the start line at Rosedale Road and Silverado Trail in Calistoga. The point to point course is held on the Silverado Trail, Oak Knoll Avenue, Big Ranch Road, El Centro Avenue, Solomon Street, Stover Street and Trower Avenue, finishing in the front parking lot at Vintage High.
There was also a 4-5 mph tailwind out of the north at the start.
“For once there’s a tailwind, rather than a headwind. I don’t know what’s going on today. Somebody up there is smiling on these folks,” said Rich Benyo, a race director.
This year’s race had a sold-out field of 2,600 runners from throughout the U.S. and several other countries.
It was a milestone year for the NVM.
“We have been around a long time and we’ve got the same course,” said Benyo. “It’s just one of those things that just stays the same year after year, which I think a lot of these people like, the fact that we’re kind of retro.”