Kenya’s Eliud Ngetich won this year’s 39th America’s Finest City Half Marathon.
The defending Champion Kevin Kochei was beaten to fifth place in a race that was dominated by Kenyans.
After being a step ahead from the outset, Scott Fauble led from the onset but dropped back among a four-pack of leaders midway through the race with hopes that he would have a final kick.
The runner coming off a fourth-place showing in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 10-kilometer race regained the lead right at the 12-mile marker early in the ascent up the Sixth Avenue hill.
However, with that move came a counter one from Ngetich, who won by two seconds in the 13.1-mile race that started at the Cabrillo National Monument and finishing at Balboa Park.
“I felt like I had multiple moves in me, so I’d use one and try to stay in front and see if anyone comes,’’ said Scott Fauble, 24, who trains in Flagstaff, Ariz. “Someone did, and I tried to stay with him. But, before the 13-mile mark, he threw in a surge, and I just couldn’t cover it.’’
Ngetich won the race in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 10 seconds to take the closing showdown.
“I knew the guy from the Olympic Trials would be strong at the finish,’’ said Ngetich, 22, reaping the benefits of four weeks devoted to training. “I was worried, and I knew it’d a challenge. It was a good one. Then, with 200 meters to go, I knew I had it.’’
The race began earlier with the intent of beating the heat and improving times. It was 68 degrees at the start, three lower than a year ago, but the results were only lukewarm.
Ngetich improved on last year’s winning time by just nine seconds, while defending champion Kochei of Kenya finished third 51 seconds off the lead (1:05:01).
After a slow opening pace, the leaders directed attention to positioning rather than the clock.
“I came here to win, but sometimes people are better than you,’’ Fauble said. “It happens. I’ll be fine in a while, but right now, I’m sulking a bit on principle.’’
In women race Kenya’s Jane Kibii, a three-time Carlsbad Half champions, built a dominating lead by the sixth mile on the way to winning her race debut by more than a minute (1:14:47).
“I feel great,” said Kibii, 31, who finished second in her last Carlsbad appearance a year ago (1:12:09) a year ago. “I didn’t have anyone push me. I (almost) had to ask people which way was go.’’
Second place went to another Kenyan Sarah Kiptoo (1:15:52), followed by countrywoman Grace Kahura (1:16:09). San Diego’s Abigail Swift finished eighth (1:22:46).
The Winners each received $2,000 and the participants of the race werer 6,000.