In this first international edition of the race he improved the course record by nearly 3.5 minutes.
A large, enthusiastic crowd lining the finish line erupted as Daniel Tapia became the first-ever Monterey County native to win the 15-year-old event.
Tapia grew up in nearby Prunedale and ran a personal best to beat runner-up Futsum Zienasellassie, a six-time All-American at Northern Arizona University, in his debut half marathon.
31-year old Tapia was runner-up last year four seconds behind the winner. “I knew I was ready.” He settled into the pack at 3km but at 13km, in neighbouring Pacific Grove, he broke away as the course turns back towards the finish. I made my move,” Tapia said: “I went for it and it worked.” He pulled away from a group of seven others by running sub-3mins/km pace for the next 5km. “He’s brought a lot of pride to Monterey County,” said race director Doug Thurston.
Ngige averaged /km in the women’s race: “The course is [not easy in] the first half, but coming back was better,” said the 10km specialist.
The women’s race still had four in contention at 23km: Helah Kiprop, Tanzanian Failuna Matanga and the Ethiopian pair of Degitu Azimeraw and Dibabe Kuma.
With little over a kilometre to run Kuma dropped back and with 600m to go Azimeraw, in her first ever international race, sprinted for home to drop first the diminutive Matanga and then the ever-tenacious Kiprop.
World Marathon Champion Geoffrey Kirui had his first race since winning his world title and slipped out of contention late in the race.
Ayana, like Legese, only got away from her compatriot Abebel Yeshaneh in the last kilometre.
Joyciline Jepkosgei set her sixth world record of the year and her second at the half marathon by beating the time she ran back in March by a single second.
Having improved the 10km world record last month she had the half marathon time in her sights from the start and was paced specifically with this in mind.
The race was almost cancelled because of heavy rain but the hostile conditions (6–8ºC) didn’t stop hundreds of athletes running along the shores of Lake Maggiore in what is called “The Most Panoramic Course in Italy”. More than 3000 runners from Europe, Asia and South America came to participate in one of the four races offered.