News

Palo Altan runs first marathon, breaks record

Keith Bechtol, 25, a Stanford graduate student, wins San Francisco Marathon

The unofficial winner of the San Francisco Marathon not only broke the course record Sunday (July 25), but he was running a marathon for the first time.

Keith Bechtol, 25, of Palo Alto, posted an unofficial time of 2 hours 23 minutes 28 seconds.

"I was just taking it one step at a time, and I wasn't expecting that this one would go as well as it did," Bechtol said. "I guess I'll have to look at the calendar and see what (upcoming race) looks fun."

The Stanford University graduate student, who is studying astrophysics, said he's been running for 11 years but only registered for the marathon six weeks ago.

"I wanted to do an event that was sort of right here so I wouldn't feel the pressure of going someplace new," Bechtol said. "It felt more familiar, and being from Palo Alto I'm close to the city but I actually don't visit as much as I should."

He said he wasn't sure what to expect from the race, though.

"I kind of went out with the attitude that I'm just going to settle into a pace that was comfortably hard," he said.

Runners in the marathon are released in waves. Bechtol, who started in the third wave at least three minutes behind the first pack of runners, said he always felt second place finisher Michael Wardian wasn't far behind.

"For me in those last miles, I felt like I really had to push knowing he was close," Bechtol said. "I kind of had this feeling knowing he wasn't going to slow down."

Wardian, 36, of Arlington, Va., also broke the old course record with his time of 2:25:21.

Harm Sengers, a 27-year-old from the Netherlands, finished third with a time of 2:29:23.

Andrew Cook, of Texas, set the previous course record of 2:25:57 in 2007. Cook, who has won the marathon three times, did not race this year because his wife is about to have a baby, marathon spokeswoman Lyz Luke said.

In the women's full marathon, Emily Harsin, 24, of Durham, N.C., took first with a time of 2:51:54. In second place was Brandy Bengoechea, 38, of Nampa, Idaho, at 2:53:26. Morgan Robinson, a 24-year-old from San Francisco, finished third with a time of 3:01:11.

The 26.2-mile marathon course starts and finishes on the Embarcadero. The route passes through Fisherman's Wharf and the Marina, crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, and leads runners through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, along Haight Street, and through the Mission, Potrero Hill and Mission Bay neighborhoods.

Bechtol, who ran track and cross country at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., said he especially enjoyed running the city streets without traffic and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge shrouded in fog. His wife, Ellen, met him at the finish line.

Official results for all races will be released next week, Luke said. Unofficial results are available now at www.thesfmarathon.com.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by John Skinner
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 26, 2010 at 9:59 am

Yeowzer! Keith, you the man! My question is this:In the training miles, and race miles, do you think of astrophysics?


Like this comment
Posted by Cheers!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

Wow! What an uplifting story! Runners from all over the world and he wins at his first marathon! Where's his photo? Give him more media!

How long does it take for them to realize their rankings after crossing the finish line?


Like this comment
Posted by Cheers!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 26, 2010 at 10:39 am

Here's a photo, although not a good one: Web Link

There's also a Facebook Fan Page with 63 members: Web Link

"This group is dedicated to our favorite red-haired harrier: Keith Bechtol.

When eating Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries, Keith always eats the crunchberries last. He then proceeds to eat the crunchberries from longest color wavelength to shortest. He is truly a man among men.

Keith is easily identified by his beautiful red plumage. He can often be seen around Bryan Hall, but be cautious: when startled he may unleash the fabled Extremo Kick."


Like this comment
Posted by Bucky
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 26, 2010 at 11:09 am

He's light-years ahead of everyone else. A newly discovered comet in the right orbit.


Like this comment
Posted by Zombie Fan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

Love the "Team Zombie" shirt pictured in the finish line photo. Ryan Hall better be looking behind him at the next Olympic trial.


Like this comment
Posted by Moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2010 at 11:27 am

Neat! What amazing self-discipline. Please let us know as soon as the results are made official.


Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

To be fair, I think that Keith has run 26.2 miles before - on trails. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that this was his first "road" marathon. But still, what an accomplishment!


Like this comment
Posted by Don Lundell
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

There are links to a couple of photos of Keith (during & after the marathon) on our Facebook page:

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm

For example, see here - he has come in first place on 50K trail runs (roughly 31-32 miles), and he has participated in 50-mile and 100-mile runs: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by LIneman for the City
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I was there, just a few hours behind Keith. Congrats to him. The article may be misleading but it was still a great accomplishment.


Like this comment
Posted by Don Lundell
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Keith's run 2 50Ks (won both of them), 2 50 milers (America River and Headlands). He hasn't run a 100 miler (yet).

Don


Like this comment
Posted by jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Why always the need to discount what someone has accomplished?

Neither a 50K, nor a 50 miler are marathons. Therefore, this is his first marathon.

And if you want to dig in the archives and find some trail marathon he's run, go ahead. He set the SF Marathon course record! Give the man his due.


Like this comment
Posted by Cheers!
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm

To know that he has run such distances on trail before does make his winning less of a surprise. The journalist mislead readers by leaving out information. We still congratulate his winning, of course!

BTW, what are a 50K or 50 milers called if they are not "marathons"?


Like this comment
Posted by LIneman for the City
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2010 at 6:32 pm

BTW, what are a 50K or 50 milers called if they are not "marathons"?

They're usually called ultra-marathons


Like this comment
Posted by Dan Dascalescu
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Awesome dude! Keith was out SLAC tour guide this week :)


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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