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Oyugi, Thomas Win AFC Half

America’s Finest City Half

SAN DIEGO – August 18, 2013 – A sold-out field of more than 8,000 elite and recreational runners from 46 states and 14 countries participated in the 36th edition of the America’s Finest City Half Marathon and AFC 5K held Sunday under cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-60s.

Cool conditions apparently suited a hot newcomer to U.S. road racing as well as other top competitors and mid-packers alike. Nelson Oyugi of Kenya, in just his second race ever on U.S. soil and his debut at the half-marathon distance, was victorious in the men’s division, setting a new course record of 1 hour, 1 minute and 59 seconds.

As talented as Oyugi is, it was not exactly easy street to the finish line as he was racing neck and neck against not only experienced half-marathon elite runners, but two experienced former America’s Finest Half Marathon (also referred to as the AFC Half) champions as well.

It became a three-man race by mile three when Oyugi, Ernest Kebenei of Kenya and Tesfaye Alemayehu of Ethiopia began to distance themselves from any semblance of competition. Kebenei, who won 2009 event (1:04:01), was never more than a stride or two away from his countryman and Alemayehu, the defending AFC Half champion and 2011 runner-up, was never more than three seconds behind the 21-year-old Oygui.

The trio battled it to the finish line. Kebenei, a training partner of the newly-crowned champion, finished second in 1:02:04 with Alemayehu rounding out the podium in third (1:02:06). All three times bettered the previous course record set in 2000 by Peter Githuka of Kenya (1:02:24.)

“I wanted to run my best,” said Oyugi, who was the unexpected winner at last month’s Wharf to Wharf six-mile race finishing in 27:13. “We trained together at home in Kenya,” said Kebenei. We pushed each other during the race, but because I am experienced and he was not, we held back at times.”

“Nelson Oyugi is an impressive young man,” said Neil Finn, race director. “He has been in America for less than a month and broke the course record as a result of a hard-fought three-person battle. It was competition at its best.”

The women’s race was dominated by Wendy Thomas of Windsor, Colo., who clinched her win in a time of 1:13:15. “I pushed a bit around mile five,” said Thomas. “I don’t typically run for the win. I usually run for time. But my coach told me to not look at my watch, run to compete, that I was as in good enough shape to compete with anyone.” Natasha LaBeaud of San Diego finished second in 1:14:54 and Marci Gage of Bend, Ore., finished third in 1:16:04.

The scenic 13.1-mile America’s Finest City Half Marathon (AFC Half) started at 7:00am at the historic Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, ran along San Diego Bay, through downtown San Diego and finished near the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park. The 3.1-mile AFC 5K began at 6:45am in Balboa Park, starting and finishing at the Half Marathon finish line near the Hall of Champions.

Competitors in the half-marathon vied for $13,700 in prize money and bonuses. A post-race party and awards ceremony followed in Balboa Park.

The AFC Half event weekend is produced by Neil Finn Sports Management and benefits the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation, Cancer Patients Alliance and other local charities. During its 36-year history the AFC Half has raised more than $3.4 million for non-profit organizations.

36th America’s Finest City Half Marathon
San Diego, CA, Sunday, August 18, 2013

1) Nelson Oyugi (KEN), 1:01:59, $2500
2) Ernest Kebenei (KEN), 1:02:06, $1000
3) Tesfaye Alemayehu (ETH), 1:02:23, $750
4) Nicholas Hilton (USA), 1:04:41, $500
5) Craig Curley (USA), 1:04:53, $300
Masters (40+): Hector Hernandez, 41, USA / CA, 1:11:40, $350
*1500 plus $1000 Open course record (previous record, 1:02:24, Peter Githuka (KEN), 2000)

1) Wendy Thomas (USA/CO), 1:13:15, 1500
2) Natasha LaBeaud (USA/CA), 1:14:54, $1000
3) Marci Gage (USA/OR), 1:16:04, $750
4) Mary Akor (USA/CA), 1:16:38, $500
5) Joanna Zeiger (USA/CO), 1:16:43, $650#
# $300 plus $350 first masters (40+)

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