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2015 Valley Crest Half-Marathon Race Report

Valley Crest R.D. Race Report

by Alexis Escobar

The 14th annual Valley Crest Half Marathon was held under favorable running conditions. The cool, overcast weather gave runners a reason to expect near perfect performances. Their only obstacle now were the trails. Just under 400 runners enthusiastically waited at the start line, anticipating the gun shot that would commence the race.

The race clock counted down, Race Director Nancy issued the final instructions, Coach Pat Connelly raised the gun. "Runners on your mark," the final words heard before runners worked their way up the first climb, 100 feet in a quarter-mile stretch.

The male champion, Jose Merino (38), ran a comfortable race, finishing in 1:20:03. With his closest competitor 3 minutes behind, Merino was able to work the hills without pressure from the sub-champion, Francisco Son (25). It was Son who had to battle with his New Basin Blues team-mates for his second place spot on the podium. The four ran in a pack for the greater part of the race, trying to outlast each other. Son was eventually able to break from the pack in his effort to close the gap between himself and Merino. These top five runners were able to defeat Robert Leonardo (53), the original Valley Crest champion and this years winner in the Masters Division.

Rachel Ragona (32) did not have quite a field day with New Basin Blues runner Naomi Bisagno (31) breathing down her back throughout the half-marathon. With both runners equally matched in physical strength, it was the mentally stronger runner who would take the cash prize. The mind that could focus on beating the hills, and not the beating that the legs were taking, was going to win the race. In the end, it was only thirteen seconds that separated Bisagno from Ragonas 1:37:23. The two could not have been more evenly matched this year. Anissa Faulkner (43) won her third Valley Crest Half Marathon Masters Champion in as many years.

The main pack arrived at the finish line soon after the leaders. These thirteen miles could not break their spirits. Happy with the weather, the volunteers, and their running companions, the athletes crossed the finish line with smiles bigger than the hills. They finished happy to know that they have been rewarded with their efforts in training. They look forward to next years edition of the Valley Crest Half Marathon, "The Friendliest Race in L.A."


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