Tapia, Williams Grind Out Cal International Wins
Yes, the weather sucked. It was still a race. (And a good one.)
by The Trailer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Here is a list of free associations on the weather for the 2012 California International Marathon:
- Vietnam during the rainy season (the country, not the war)
- Wet iPhones
- Shaggy dog
Despite deluge-like conditions, CIM was still a race, and soon after it started it was apparent that mile spits were irrelevant (especially since half of the markers had blown over under 30 mph gusts). The patient would win, and Patience’s name was Daniel Tapia in 2:16:30.
“It’s a long time coming,” says coach Chris Zepeda, who Tapia, 24, raced for at Hartnell College in Salinas. “This is the type of day that shows you the toughest runner, the guy that just grinds out miles day after day after day, has an equal chance to win.”
Tapia came into the race with a mere 2:15:26 PR, set at the 2012 Olympic team trials in January. By time he was seeded 12th pre-race among men.
Tapia, tucked into the back of pack, was sheltered from the headwind during the early stages of the course. As man after man fell off the pace, he was one of the last standing. East Africans Tesfaye Alemayehu of Ethiopia and Christopher Kipyego of Kenya moved at 23 miles, and Tapia went.
“If I die, I die—at least I’m going to be top three,” Tapia says. “I didn’t; I just felt strong.”
Tapia may have been reactive in the early stages, but in the most critical he was the aggressor. When the lead vehicle sped off to the finish at 24 miles, Tapia, attacking, had already broken Kipyego. It was down to two.
Tapia says, “I kept on going at 4:50 pace at the end. [Alemayehu] just couldn’t go with me.”
Tapia’s win breaks a long drought for Americans in Sacramento. Jerry Lawson was the last men’s winner in 1993, setting the course record of 2:10:27 en route. Though Tapia won in a more modest time, time was irrelevant; it was all about place.
“[The weather] made me very conservative,” Tapia says. “If it would have been 35 degrees with no headwind, I probably would have gone out fast like I did for my previous marathons, and I probably would have tanked at the end.
“With the weather we knew it was going to be survival of the fittest.”
Alemayehu would hold for second in 2:17:08, and Kipyego was third in 2:18:00. Jason Ordway, of Bellbrook, Ohio, was fourth overall and the second American in 2:18:10. 2:11-marathoner Nick Arciniaga led early, but faded to fifth in 2:18:37.
Alisha Williams and Clara Peterson Hang Out for 24 Miles. Again.
Williams, who was originally going to run the 2012 New York City Marathon, has had five workouts in the last four weeks since the race was cancelled. None them felt good.
“My coach [Scott Simmons, of the American Distance Project] just told me not to panic,” Williams says.
But she was worried, especially about the last 10K. Instead, she says, she felt awesome.
At the 2012 Olympic team trials debutantes Peterson and Williams ran side by side for 24 miles before finishing 16th and 14th, respectively. Williams’ coup de grace at CIM came again over the last two miles. She put 41 seconds on Peterson at the trials; at CIM it was 38 seconds.
Williams would claim her first marathon win in 2:34:58.
“We were pushing each other and keeping each other focused,” Williams says of Peterson. “In that weather I could see where it would be easy to just sit back and give up.
“I was terrified. I did not relax at all the last two miles. I had no idea where [Peterson] was, and I know how good of a runner she is. I didn’t want to leave it till the very end.”
Peterson was second in 2:35:36; Russia’s Natalia Sergeeva was third in 2:38:23. Avina Begay of Team USA Arizona, who competed in the World Half Marathon Championships in October, was fourth in 2:39:08.
“It is what it is; it’s a race, ultimately, so then you just focus on trying to win,” Williams says. “This is a huge win for me. I’ll take it.”