Michelle Meyer plans to wait a few weeks before she opens some of the wine that she won as the overall women’s champion of Sunday’s 35th annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon.
Meyer loves wine and all that the Napa Valley has to offer. But as a second-year medical school student at UC San Francisco, she wants to make it through an exam later this month before celebrating with the wine that she received from the sponsoring Silverado Trail Wineries Association.
“I’ll be drinking it in a few weeks,” Meyer, 25, said. “I’m excited. I was not expecting to win, to be perfectly honest.”
Meyer crossed the finish line 18th overall, clocking 2 hours, 43 minutes, 11 seconds for the 26.2-mile race from Calistoga to Napa that is sanctioned by USA Track & Field. The race was also the Road Runners Club of America’s National Marathon Championship and had a sold-out field of 2,600 runners.
“I have a special tie to this course. I’m excited to come back here,” said Meyer.
As a freshman at Stanford University, Meyer ran the NVM as her first marathon seven years ago. She finished it in 3 hours and 16 minutes. Her time qualified her to run the Boston Marathon the following year.
Meyer has gone on to have success as a distance runner. She qualified for and competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, where she placed 84th in 2:45:52.
She has won several races over the last three years, including the Modesto Marathon (2012) and Oakland Marathon (2011), Napa Valley Silverado Half Marathon (2012), Humboldt Half Marathon (2011), Marin Half Marathon (2010), the Dean Karnazes Silicon Valley Half Marathon (2009), US Half Marathon (2012), and Marsh Madness Half Marathon (2012).
In winning Sunday on the point to point course, Meyer set a personal record. Her previous best was a time of 2:43:57 at the 2011 California International Marathon in Sacramento.
“The course is beautiful and we lucked out with the weather. Just all the variables came together, which is great,” said Meyer, a 2009 Stanford graduate, who majored in biology.
“I wanted to run well, to finish and have fun — those are the top goals. I would have liked to have broken 2:43, but the fact that I got close, I’m happy with that.”
As a member of the Impala Racing Team, an all-women elite development team based in San Francisco, she meets twice a week with teammates for workouts on the track and for tempo runs.
“I had a really good group to train with,” she said. “It’s been great training with those ladies and actually some other people who were running today. I had wonderful people to run with.”
Second in the women’s field was Molly Friel of Fresno (2:44:17), who was 19th overall. Third was Sarah Raitter of Reno (2:50:37), who was 26th overall.
Devon Yanko of San Anselmo, last year’s women’s winner and a two-time champion, did not run yesterday.
Friel said she was feeling good until the last four miles. And then it became a challenge.
“Michelle kept pulling away — at 20 she took off. She had a lot left in her,” said Friel, who got a PR. “I was just trying to get to the finish.”
Napa Valley Marathon Notebook
• Dylan Isaacson of Berkeley won the Greater Kiwanis Club of Napa 5K Fun Run, which began at Vintage High. Isaacson had a time of 16:31.
Eighth was Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic marathon gold medalist, who had a time of 18:48. Samuelson, from Freeport, Maine, was trying to break the U.S. 5K record for age 55-59 women, which is 18:32 set by Shirley Matson at the Carlsbad 5000 in 1997.
The top Napa Valley finisher was Juan Velasquez of Napa, who was ninth at 19:04.
• Peter Malmquist of State College, Pa., was listed in stable, fair condition at Queen of the Valley Medical Center Sunday, according to a hospital spokesperson.
Malmquist was transported by ambulance from the finish line area to the Queen after collapsing due to a heart problem. Malmquist was treated by the race’s medical staff.
“We had a really rapid response and a good outcome,” said Dr. Jim Cotter, the chief of staff at Kaiser Permanente. “It’s nice when things work that way. We’re prepared and he was in the right place.”
Because the weather was rather cool, there were not any heat-related injuries, said Cotter.
“Because the weather was favorable, we didn’t have a lot of heat or fluid-related problems,” said Cotter. “We had the usual sore knees and sore hips that are treated with our physical therapists. People sometimes just need to lay down for a minute.”
• John Keston sang the national anthem before the marathon.