12/02/2012, 6:15pm PST

Unlikely winners use late moves to claim 30th anniversary titles

Dec. 2, 2012
For immediate release

Daniel Tapia spent the last three nights tossing and turning, drinking NyQuil and trying to fight off a cold before a California International Marathon he didn’t think he had a chance to win.

Alisha Williams didn’t even plan on competing in the 30th annual CIM until the New York City Marathon’s cancellation four weeks ago left her trying to maintain her race fitness.

On Sunday, Tapia and Williams took advantage of challenging weather conditions by staying patient and making late moves to take home the CIM’s $10,000 individual winner’s checks.

Tapia, a member of the Sacramento Running Association’s Elite Team who resides in Prunedale, pulled away from Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Alemayehu to win in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 29 seconds.

Alemayehu finished second in 2:17:06 and Kenya’s Christopher Kipyego grabbed third in 2:17:59.

“I wanted to just be patient and not try to make any moves until it counts,” Tapia said. “When it was time to go, I just went stride for stride.

“I was pushing hard and like I wasn’t hurting. I just kept grinding.”

Tapia’s strategy dropped Alemayehu at mile 25 and sent him to a most improbable victory.

“I honestly didn’t (think I could win), especially with the weather,” he said of the windy, rainy conditions. “I’ve never run in this weather before.

“Mile 21, I felt good, mile 22 I felt good, mile 23 I felt good. I just kept grinding away.”

And the lead pack kept dwindling, from seven runners at mile 19 to five at mile 21 to three at mile 23. And when Sean Houseworth then dropped back, Tapia and Alemayehu were the last contenders standing.

Tapia, a 26-year-old law school student who works full-time at his family’s restaurant in Salinas, said financial support from the Sacramento Running Association in the past year has helped his running career.

“I’ve gotten a big boost from the Sacramento Running Association,” he said. “I have no complaints.”

Williams, a 30-year-old financial analyst from Colorado Springs, Colo., sounded very grateful for the opportunity to run in Sacramento after Hurricane Sandy led to the New York City Marathon’s cancellation.

“I’m so happy,” she said. “I’m thankful I was able to come here. Just to have the opportunity to run is really all we want.”

Williams made the most of her chance, pulling away from runner-up Clara Peterson in the final two miles to win in 2:34:57. Peterson, from San Anselmo, finished in 2:35:35, with Russian Natalia Sergeeva third in 2:38:22.

“I did not relax at all the last two miles,” Williams said. “I know how good of a runner she (Peterson) is.

“Coming into the (last) turn, there were a lot more spectators. Coming around the corner, I got kind of teary-eyed and choked up.

“This is a huge win for me.”

Williams, running in her second marathon, was the first American woman to win CIM since Kristin Schwartz in 2000. Tapia was the first U.S. man to win the race since Joe LeMay in 1999.

The last time Americans won both CIM individual titles was in 1993, when Jerry Lawson set the men’s course record of 2:10:27 and UC Davis graduate Linda Somers won the women’s race in 2:34:11.

For the second consecutive year, Aaron Scheidies won the men’s race in the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes National Championships, this time with a 2:53:36 effort. Kristina Ament claimed the women’s title in 4:10:02.

“This is a great race,” Scheidies said. “I’ll be back.”

Josh Hotaling, from Loomis, was the lone wheelchair entrant, using his crank chair to finish in 2:13:46.

Rocklin’s Chris Knorzer won the men’s masters (40 and over) title in 2:36:26. Lisbet Sunshine of Larkspur claimed the women’s masters championship in 2:54:47.

Rain and wind at the start helped limit the number of starters to 6,474 marathoners and 857 relay teams. But conditions improved during the race along the 26.2-mile route from Folsom to the state Capitol, helping 6,185 marathoners and 809 relay teams to finish.

An estimated 2,000 runners and walkers took part in the 2.62-mile Kaiser maraFUNrun.

A dozen marathoners – Michael Buzbee, Steve Haun, Bruce Mauldin, Michael Nolan, John O’Neill, Steve Polansky, Michael Ryan, Michael Sullivan, Ernest Takahashi, Barry Turner, Tim Twietmeyer and Denis Zilaff — finished their 30th consecutive CIM.

“There were no gimmes today,” Twietmeyer said.
The CIM is put on by the Sacramento Running Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.
Other SRA events include the recently concluded Lake Natoma Four Bridges Half Marathon, the Super Bowl Sunday 10k Run on Feb. 3 and the Credit Union SACTOWN Ten-Mile Run on April 7.

SRA beneficiaries include the American River Parkway, youth fitness programs, local running venues and aspiring young runners.