Officially, it’s known as the Half Moon Bay International Marathon, which this year attracted about 1,200 runners for the full marathon (26.2 miles), half-marathon (13.1 miles) or the 5K fun run.
Unofficially, the race provides a subliminal message for love and romance.
Everyone who ran seemed to love the views of the Pacific Ocean while running along the Coastside Trail. But, the winners in the male and female divisions in both the half and full marathon are themselves an item.
Men’s marathon champion Ryan Neely and women’s marathon champion Kimberly O’Donnell were a couple when they won the titles last year and are still together as winners this year.
Meanwhile, half-marathon men’s winner David Roche and women’s winner Megan Deakins were boyfriend-girlfriend until a few months ago. They are now engaged.
Deakins conquered the course in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 27 seconds, nearly 20 minutes ahead of women’s runner-up Rachel Hall.
Overall, she was third, eight minutes behind Roche and a minute behind men’s runner-up Anthony Cortes.
Deakins, just starting at Stanford University School of Medicine, ran the course with a fierce determination. However, she spent a couple of moments admiring the course.
“It was one of those things when I got to the turnaround point and I looked around and said, ‘Wow!’” she said.
Roche also ran with a strong determination. Pushed by Cortes, Roche kept up a punishing pace, and never relaxed until a few moments after breaking the tape.
“The course was great,” Roche said. “These races are never that much fun at the end. But they are fun when you are finished. It is a great experience and they put on a great race.”
Neely was in a tough battle with Patrick Reaves. Neely broke open the race late at the hill portion. Neely finished in 2 hours, 33 minutes, 58 seconds, more than four minutes ahead of Reaves.
“I guess the hills at the end were hard,” Neely said. “For me, coming off these tough trail races, that’s probably what gave me a little bit of an edge.”
Neely and O’Donnell have raced in ultra marathons, where the distances are longer, and the courses are filled with plenty of hills, steeper than the hill at the 20-mile mark.
“I thought the hills were the hardest, by far,” said O’Donnell, who finished in 2:50.33. “But compared to the 50Ks, they were golden.”
Both couples indicated they would like to return next year, though Neely and O’Donnell are not sure they’ll make it.
“We have a big schedule planned for next year,” O’Donnell said. “We have races planned.”