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Originally published June 27, 2009 at 2:06 PM | Page modified July 1, 2009 at 3:04 PM

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Corrected version

Nyabuti finishes half-marathon before some even begin

Elija Nyabuti finished the men's 13.1-mile half-marathon before some runners even got across the starting line.

Seattle Times sports reporter

Photos, videos, updates from the race

Recap the race with updates sent by staffer Cory Haik (@coryhaik on Twitter) as she ran the whole 26.2 miles. Read her Twitter updates, click into map points to see her photos as well as watch video filmed along the way.


Elija Nyabuti finished the men's 13.1-mile half-marathon before some runners even got across the starting line.

That shows the magnitude of the field of 25,000 runners at the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon, which started runners in 36 different groups.

The fact that Nyabuti finished before everyone started also just how fast he is.

Historically fast, it turns out.

Nyabuti finished the half-marathon in a time of 1 hour, 5 minutes and 14 seconds, one of the fastest half-marathon time in state history. The previous record of 1:04:51 was set in 1977.

Pat Rizzo finished second in 1:05:34, a personal best, and stayed with Nyabuti until the ninth mile.

"He dropped me even though I ran two straight 4:55 miles," said Rizzo, who lives in Detroit. "That shows you his wheels were moving."

Nyabuti is Kenyan, and he currently lives in Ohio, and he was the only runner to break a Washington state record at Saturday's event. The winning times in the men's and women's marathons were each more than 3 minutes off the state record.

Berhane Adere, a former world champion from Ethiopia, pulled away in the final mile of the women's half-marathon and one in a time of 1:11:19, which was 71 seconds off the state record.

Isley Gonzalez, who just graduated from Washington State, was the first American finisher in the women's half-marathon. It was her first half marathon, and just months after racing college opponents she found herself in a race with world-renowned Adere, who won the prestigious Dubai Marathon just last year, and Nuta Olaru, a former Olympian from Romania who finished second Saturday.

Gonzalez finished nearly 9 minutes behind Adere, who has won the Chicago Marathon twice, and is using the prize money from racing to build a hotel in Ethiopia.

Adere arrived in Seattle on Thursday afternoon, and her 14-year-old son Alem watched the race aboard a flatbed truck that stayed ahead of the leaders in the marathon.

The marathon course diverged from the half-marathon course between the eighth and ninth mile so he couldn't see his mother finish. Someone aboard told him the results, saying his mother had won.

"Really?" he said.

Yep. There wasn't all that much doubt about it. Adere stayed with Olaru until the final mile and then pulled away, winning by 24 seconds.

The information in this article, originally published June 27, 2009, was corrected July 1, 2009. The men's half-marathon record was incorrectly listed as 1:05:43 before Saturday's inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon based on erroneous information given to The Seattle Times. Therefore, Elija Nyabuti's winning time Saturday of 1:05:14 did not break the record, as was listed Sunday.The fastest men's half-marathon run in Washington was Bill Glad's time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 51 seconds at the Red Brick Road Half Marathon in Redmond in 1977, according to the Washington State Records Committee. Glad's run came before courses in the state were certified.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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