There is fast, and then there is CJ Albertson fast.
The former standout at Buchanan High School and Arizona State proved that by blazing a challenging Woodward Park course to easily best a field of 75 finishers in the inaugural Día de Reyes Half Marathon in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 48.4 seconds.
That was more than 9 minutes ahead of runner-up Óscar Pérez (1:16:00.9).
As fast as the time was, the Sunday run was like a walk in the park for the Clovis Community College cross country coach.
“I just wanted to come out and have fun,” said Albertson. “I haven’t been running very much since I did the fall marathons.”
Those marathons were record-breaking: Fresno’s Two Cities Marathon on Nov. 4 in 2:17:40; followed two weeks later by the Bakersfield Marathon (2:19:45.3). The first marathon qualified the 25-year-old Albertson for next year’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Despite the time off from serious running, Albertson was surprised his time was that quick.
“I haven’t run 13 miles since the Bakersfield Marathon, so I wasn’t expecting to run very fast,” said Albertson, whose break from training will end soon as he starts to ramp up soon.
Albertson also reported a “problem with my Achilles” that has limited his training recently. He plans to gear up for a summer marathon and possibly another marathon in the fall to prepare for the marathon trials.
Albertson, just like he did in the November marathons, ran alone due to the lack of competition. His 5:06-minute pace had him way ahead of the pack, which included Portland State standout Evert Silva. The former Fresno High runner placed third in 1:16:58.7.
“I kind of figured I’d be alone for most of the race, so I was mentally prepared for that,” said Albertson, who pocketed $300 for the win. “It was a like a good, hard run. I don’t think I mentally pushed hard; that wasn’t the goal today.”
Albertson wasn’t the only family member to have a solid race. His wife, Chelsey Albertson pulled away from Kathleen Dunne with about two miles left in the race to win the women’s division in 1:21:44.9
Dunne finished in 1:22:15.6. Chelsey, who was seventh overall, won $300.
CJ Albertson wasn’t surprised with his wife’s win.
“She’s a great runner; she’s run 15:53 in the 5K,” he said. “I think if she was training hard for a half marathon, she could run around 75 minutes.”
Albertson said she is also getting back into running shape. “Today was just a good, hard run for her as well.”
He promised she would post faster times in the distance if she starts running them competitively.
“She’s pretty fast; and, just as talented as me,” said Albertson.
The half marathon included a 5-kilometer race.
Race photo gallery: www.facebook.com/vidaenelvalle