VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – While beachgoers may complain about the lack of sun during Labor Day weekend, over 11,000 running enthusiasts were thrilled by the lack of humidity Sunday as they took over the Oceanfront for the 15th anniversary event of the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon.
While a total of 15,000 runners took part in several races over the past couple of days, it was Laura Thweatt who won the women’s event.
The 26-year-old broke the tape at 13th Street on the Oceanfront boardwalk, 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 recently won the 2015 USA Cross-Country championships and led Sunday’s race from wire to wire. The 26-year-old said her main focus out on the roads was to 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.
University of Auburn All-American Elkanah Kibet won the men’s race, coming across the finish line in 1:05:22. Over 30 seconds behind the Kenyan native was defending 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. 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. Ohio’s Isaiah Bragg finished third well behind Eggleston in 1:09:25.
A 5K was held in conjunction with Sunday’s race. 16-year-old Josh Spare, a Virginia Beach resident, won in 16:47, while Audrey Perlow Verdirame was the women’s champion (22:12).