The man who broke the course record during last year's San
Francisco Marathon returned Sunday to win the half marathon, and he said he
plans to try out for the 2012 Olympics in January.
"I had a great experience last year, I'm glad to be back,"
Stanford University graduate student Keith Bechtol said. Bechtol won his
first-ever marathon in San Francisco last year, and ran four others in
California, Chicago and Minnesota.
"This is the start of my training cycle, so it's a good
checkpoint," Bechtol said. "I wasn't expecting to run so well today."
According to unofficial results, Bechtol finished the 13.1-mile
race with a time of one hour, five minutes and 19 seconds, only 17 seconds
shy of the course record.
More than 25,000 competitors ran the challenging course, which
started near the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, followed the coastline
into the Presidio, over the Golden Gate Bridge and back, through the western
side of the city and finishing back at the Ferry Building.
The winner of the full marathon, Michael Wardian, a 37-year-old
endurance athlete from Virginia, ran the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon only
three weeks ago. According to unofficial results in today's marathon, he
finished in two hours, 27 minutes and six seconds, despite struggling with a
stomach flu last night, event organizers said.
As of 12:00 p.m. no serious injuries had been reported among the
runners or the estimated 100,000 spectators gathered along the route,
marathon spokeswoman Kelli Wynne said.