Ever since 2001, the scenic town of Virginia Beach, Virginia has played host to one of the most popular running events: the half marathon. At this year’s 15 anniversary, Laura Thweatt was crowned the women’s champion. The 26-year-old broke the tape that was literally on the beach on 15th Street, in one hour, 12 minutes, and 59 seconds.
Thweatt said she enjoyed the rain and the cooler-than-average temperatures out on the course in the race’s beginning miles. “It was great,” she said of her performance. “I kept on trucking. The crowds and the course were awesome.”
Thweatt, a Colorado resident, said she loved running along the ocean. “I’m all about the beach,” she admitted with a chuckle. Thweatt is a U.S. Cross-Country champion and led Sunday’s race from wire to wire. The 26-year-old said her main focus out on the roads was the catch groups of male runners ahead of her. “I didn’t want to be all out there by myself,” she said. Thweatt was using the Virginia Beach race to tune up for her debut marathon later this fall.
RELATED: Why I Run: Laura Thweatt
Second and third place in the women’s race was awarded to Yuko Wantanabe (1:20:13) and Natalie Lawrence (1:21:18) respectively.
Elkanah Kibet won the men’s race, coming across the finish line in 1:05:22. Over 30 seconds behind Kibet was defending Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach champion Jeffrey Eggleston, who ran 1:06:01 for the 13.1 miles.
After the race, Eggleston, a University of Virginia graduate, recalled the challenging windy conditions. “It was really treacherous out there,” he said of the gusts.
The 30-year-old just returned from the World Championships in Beijing where he competed in the marathon, but didn’t finish. “I had a disappointing performance there,” he said of the World Championships. “I went out a little over my head in Beijing. I was in search of a breakthrough and didn’t go out conservative, so I was looking for a rebound here in Virginia Beach to defend my title. I put in all this hard work over the summer, and it’s never easy. You got to respect the race, and you got to respect the competition.”
Eggleston said he tried to say with Kibet from the start, and despite his second-place showing, he admits he had a great time out on the Virginia Beach course. “I look forward to what’s next,” he said. Isaiah Bragg finished third well behind Eggleston in 1:09:25.
A 5K was held in conjunction with Sunday’s race. Sixteen-year-old Josh Spare, a Virginia Beach resident, won in 16:47, while Audrey Perlow Verdirame was the women’s champion (22:12).
Virginia Beach has always been a welcoming and fun destination for runners. At this year’s event, 15,000 competitors from all 50 states and 15 countries took part in the race that winds throughout scenic beach town. Grammy-award winner Sheryl Crow serenaded runners at the 5th Street Beach Stage at the race’s finish-line concert.