September 28, 2016 – Of all the adjectives you could use to describe the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon one that would never apply is the word “slow.” This annual event, which takes place on Sunday, happens to be the fastest 13.1-mile event in the state of California.
Mammoth Track Club elite competitor Shadrack Biwott will be toeing the line in San Jose on Sunday and is well aware of the speed he will need to be exhibiting along the flat course that starts in the middle of the city known as the “Capital of Silicon Valley”. The 31-year-old Biwott, who is coached by Andrew Kastor, the husband of American Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor, will be running San Jose as a way to prepare for the TCS New York City Marathon in November.
“This is the perfect time and the perfect race for me as I prepare for my marathon,” he said. “It’s a great race. I want to get a good effort out there.”
According to Biwott, a former standout at the University of Oregon and a 2:12 marathoner, a “good effort” would be 62 minutes for the 13.1 miles, which equates to a blazing average of 4:43 per mile. But deep down, though, Biwott says he’d love to improve on his older brother’s (Duncan Kibet) mark on the course. Kibet clocked 1:00:22 back in 2006 at the inaugural edition of the race, which still stands as the California state half-marathon record.
“That would be really nice if I could do that. You never know, right?” he said with a laugh. “Anything could happen, but I don’t want to over-reach too much out there.”
Biwott says he’s decided to run the marathon in TCS New York City out of an obligation for not finishing it back in 2011. “I need to go back there and leave the right impression with the good people of New York,” he said. “I still feel like I still owe them. I need to go back there and do a good job.”
He says his training, up to 125 miles a week at altitude in Mammoth, has been going great.
“Being on the West Coast means that I can drive a few hours to get to San Jose to race and it won’t disrupt my training compared to if I had to fly to the East Coast to race. I’m really excited. I’ve put in the work to have a good race on Sunday.”
Regardless how the race unfolds on Sunday, Biwott says he’s thrilled to be returning to the Rock ‘n’ Roll experience.
“I know there will be great crowds there,” he said. “This is the perfect opportunity for me. I don’t take anything for granted. I am very thankful and I want to thank the Rock ‘n’ Roll team for allowing me to compete there. They always do a great job.”
Though he is wearing bib #1, Biwott’s chances of victory in San Jose on Sunday will be anything but easy. He will be squaring off against some of the best American road racers that include Patrick Smyth, a 1:02:01 half-marathoner, who has gutted it out on the turf while wearing the American singlet at the World Cross-Country Championships. Smyth has also enjoyed success on the trails, winning the U.S. Half Marathon Trail Championships back in 2014.
Another key rival to watch for on the San Jose streets will be a long-time “street fighter” on the road-racing circuit: Fernando Cabada, who’s 1:02:00 half-marathon personal best means he will surely be at or near the front of the pack. Cabada is also from Fresno, which may give him some added motivation as he returns to his California roots.
Other top Americans in the men’s race include Scott MacPherson (1:02:56), Daniel Tapia (1:03:39) and Tyler McCandless (1:03:16). Making their half-marathon debut on Sunday will be Matthew Leach, a graduate from the University of San Francisco, and Ryan Dohner, who trains with Hoka One One Northern Arizona Elite in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose returns on October 1-2 with the half marathon and 10K races on Sunday and a 5K on Saturday. Runners will start at W. Santa Clara St. and Almaden Blvd. and tour the sights of the Bay Area city. The half marathon course will run past City Hall, through Japantown, out and back on The Alameda and through the Rose Garden neighborhood. The event comes to an exciting and scenic finish at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose where Rogue Wave will headline the Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series.
Race weekend kicks off with a free Health & Fitness Expo on Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. The free expo is open to the public and will showcase the latest in running products, services and free samples from fitness experts as all registered runners pick up their race number, t-shirt and timing tag.
For more information, please visit RunRocknRoll.com/San-Jose or follow @RunRocknRoll on Twitter.