Thousands hit the ground running at Rock'n'Roll Marathon - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Thousands hit the ground running at Rock'n'Roll Marathon

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The 16th annual Rock'n'Roll Marathon got underway on the west side of Balboa Park Sunday amid increased security and with a new finish line, Petco Park.

Scott Dickey, president and CEO of Competitor Group Inc., which conducts the race, said at a news conference Friday that security protocols already in place were being enhanced, and more private security and police officers were being added at this year's race.

The new safety measures, prompted by the bombings at the Boston Marathon April 15, included intermittent bag checks and more service dog patrols, according to Dickey.

San Diego police and fire officials said no significant incidents were reported at the race.

About 8,000 runners entered the 26-mile, 385-yard marathon, with 57 percent of the field female and 32 percent from outside California, according to organizers. The field is among the 10 largest in the nation.

Simon Njoroge finished in first place with an unofficial time of two hours, 15 minutes. He was followed by Jamey Gifford and Tristan Mitchell.

Natalia Sergeeva, clocked at 2:35:05, was the women's winner, followed by Elisa Karhu then Bonnie Axman, according to unofficial results at competitor.com.

The half-marathon has drawn a field of about 22,000 from all 50 states and 30 nations, organizers said.

Bernard Koech of Kenya finished the half-marathon in 58 minutes and 41 seconds. He bested two-time defending champion and 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, and other Kenyan runners Eliud Kipchoge and Stephen Kibet.

Koech's half-marathon time was the fastest recorded in the country, but it will not be recognized as a national record because the elevation descent from the race's start to finish exceeded the allowable limit, U-T San Diego reported.

Edna Kiplagat topped the women's half-marathon division with an unofficial time of 1:08:56, followed by Georgina Rono and Firehiwot Dado.

Deena Kastor, the only American woman to run the half-marathon under 1:08 on a certified course and an Olympic bronze medalist, finished ninth.

Bill Earley, president of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's San Diego chapter, said fund-raising for this year's run has generated $4.5 million.

"Over 16 years, the marathon has raised more than $254 million for cancer research and patient services," Earley said, adding that participants should be proud of what they are "doing to help save lives."

The event also is an annual financial boon to the city, Dickey said.

"Over the weekend, the marathon accounts for 54,000 hotel nights and more than $70 million of economic impact," Dickey said.

Streets in downtown, Balboa Park, Bay Park, Normal Heights, east Mission Bay and Mission Valley were expected to be closed or congested until about 2 p.m.

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