Iván Medina, a 31-year-old Hayward resident who works as a deliveryman in San Francisco, felt the race slipping away Sunday morning at the 10th annual Two Cities Marathon.
Trailing four-time Two Cities champion Jesús Campos, Medina thought he was finished at mile 23 when “I got a huge cramp and thought I was done.”
“He’s an animal,” said Medina of the 33-year-old Campos, who finished six seconds behind. “He did three surges in this race. Three! Like a 5:20 pace!”
Medina kept hoping his cramps would go away on the slightly uphill return on Friant Road to the finish line at Woodward Park. Medina caught up with Campos, who has never finished worse than fourth in the Two Cities, with about a half-mile remaining.
“With a mile to go, Jesús had about 100-meters on me. With a half-mile, I caught up to him and kept pushing to the end,” said Medina, who last raced the Two Cities in 2014 when he finished about 2½ minutes behind Campos, who finished second that year.
In 2012, Medina clocked 2:41:57 when Campos won in 2:24.24.
“It was not a good day for a PR (personal record),” said Medina, who enjoys his friendship and race rivalry with the Fresno High School Spanish instructor.
“It was an incredible race because Jesús is from here,” said Medina. “We were fighting all the way, up to the last mile. I’m so happy I did this marathon in Fresno. The people are so amazing. I love racing over here.”
Pocketing the $750 prize for finishing first probably made the race victory all that much sweeter for Medina.
Campos, in a Facebook post, said he was pleased with his effort.
“Can’t complain; ran a good time ... and for sure gave all it got,” wrote Campos.
Earlier in the week, Campos said his training regimen wasn’t strong because of his duties coaching Fresno High’s cross country team and taking part in a foklórico dance group.
“Great job everyone out there; and, of course, Iván for taking the win! Pretty strong finish!,” he wrote.
Campos earned $450 for his second-place finish.
Third in the men’s race was 45-year-old Oswaldo López, the 2011 Badwater Ultramarathon champion from Madera. López finished in 2:47:14.
Michele Van Ornum of Fresno won the women’s race – and $750 – with a time of 3:13:16. She was 14th overall in a field of just over 300 finishers.
Losing weight, and winning races
Avenal’s Gabriel Collazo, who works for Wonderful Pistachio & Almonds, knew he would not be able to win, much less compete, a half-marathon race.
Three years ago, he weighed 233 pounds and figured he needed to get in better shape. He found the answer in running.
“Things started to happen,” said Collazo, who now weighs 156 pounds.
Collazo won the Fresno half-marathon portion of the Two Cities in 1:18:53, more than three minutes faster than runner-up Seth Frazer of Fresno (1:22:10). Former Fresno State standout Salvador Rodríguez, 52, was third in 1:22:52.
“I just decided to get into running,” said Collazo. “I’m thankful. This is the first time at this speed and pace.”
Collazo averaged 6:01 minutes per mile.
The women’s Fresno half-marathon winner was Kingsburg’s Shannon Parkinson, fifth overall in 1:29:35.
In the Clovis half-marathon, Fresno’s Germay Tesfai was the overall winner in 1:13, followed by Sanger’s Sean Marzolf (1:14:32) and Selma’s Martín Ramírez (1:15:04).
A marriage proposal is accepted
When Alejandra Gil, a 26-year-old Madera resident, crossed the finish line of the Fresno half-marathon in 3:22:39, she didn’t expect to see her boyfrield, José Rodríguez.
Rodríguez got down on one knee and proposed to Gil.
She said yes.
“She has always told me how her dad got married at 26 years of age,” said Rodríguez, who has been dating Gil for 10 years. “I finally did it!”
Pregnancy hasn’t slowed her down
María Ruvalcaba is no stranger to racing, and her nine-month-old pregnancy isn’t slowing her down at all.
The 29-year-old Fresno resident – who ran a 2:51:25 in the 2012 Two Cities Marathon – was among 205 finishers of the 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) race on Sunday.
Her time of 22:26 was good for fourth overall among female finishers.
“I want to motivate people that just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t run,” said Ruvalcaba, who is expecting on Nov. 29. “It’s very healthy to maintain yourself, exercising, during a pregnancy. It definitely helps you.”
Ruvalcaba trained at a 10-minute-per-mile pace, so her 7:14-minute-per-mile average for the 5K was a bit faster.
Her husband, Rudy Ruvalcaba, finished the marathon in 3:46:04.
▪ Classmates and friends of Neng Thao, the Edison High School student who drowned in a swimming accident earlier this year, paid tribute to him by participating in his name in the Clovis half-marathon of the Two Cities. They carried a portrait of Thao, and finished in 2 hours, 41 minutes.
▪ Ann Marie Cody, a 36-year-old Sunnyvale resident, did her part in breaking a Guinness World Record by pushing her 11-month-old triplets in a stroller during the Fresno half-marathon in a time of 1 hour, 47 minutes, 59 seconds. The old record was 1:51.