Bretan outruns all the men as she repeats as Modesto Marathon women’s champ

bvanderbeek@modbee.comMarch 23, 2014 

Anna Bretan is a 29-year-old mother of three who works as a delivery nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco’s Mission District.

So for her there’s more to running than being a way to stay fit. It’s her therapy – step after step, mile after mile of me-time.

And if the Modesto Marathon happens to fit into Bretan’s hectic schedule, all the better. It seems to be a course that fits both her eye and her style, as she showed on Sunday by not only successfully defending her women’s title, but beating all the men to the finish line to become the first woman to win Modesto’s overall race.

“I’m very pumped and I’d like to keep this momentum going,” said Bretan, who clocked 2 hours, 41 minutes, 52 seconds in the 26.2-mile race to beat her own course women’s record by 101 seconds.

“It feels so good when you cross the finish line and you PR and win the whole race. It’s only happened to me a couple times that I won the whole race, but I’m glad to be done. I only remember the good runs, and this would be a good one for me in my book.”

Matthew Klundt of Fresno followed Bretan to the line to finish in 2:44:27 to win the men’s race. It was significantly off the course record of 2:26:53 set last year by fellow Fresnan Jesus Campos, but it was personal best for Klundt by more than 14 minutes.

Course records were set in both the men’s and women’s half-marathon. Turlock’s Miguel Nuci survived the error of a course marshal that caused him to run about an extra 300 yards to clock 1:11:01, 19 seconds better than the record he set last year. Kristi Rossi, 45, of Hillsborough, used the women’s half marathon as a training run for the Boston Marathon, and her time of 1:21:57 shattered the old record by a astonishing 4:25.

Cool morning temperatures and almost no wind made for ideal running conditions for the estimated 720 marathoners, 1,500 half-marathoners and more than twice that total in the 5-kilometer runs.

“It was fabulous out there – not too hot or cold and no headwinds,” Bretan said. “You couldn’t ask for a better or more beautiful course. It’s predictable and self-explanatory.”

Bretan has quickly become the darling of the Northern California running scene since setting a course record in her very first marathon in Oakland in 2011. She repeated as Oakland champion in 2012 just six weeks after giving birth to her daughter, blitzed the Modesto course last year and followed that with a victory in the San Francisco Marathon in July.

The 2:42:26 she clocked on the San Francisco course was her personal best time prior to Sunday, and also met the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials qualifying standard.

“I always tell my running friends about this run and I’m sure a lot more of them will be coming now that it’s getting bigger and people realize how good the course is,” said the former University of San Francisco cross-country athlete. “With three small kids I have to be very selective and my races have to be relatively close. Modesto is perfect for that.”

Klundt, 27, an employee of the Air National Guard, said he’s been running since the third grade – competing at every distance from sprints to miles and now marathons in addition to taking part in triathlons. This was his first marathon win in 10 tries.

“I had some good preparation the last few months and I wanted to go out slower than I normally do and ease my way through the race,” Klundt said. “I can’t stress how much my training and my training partners helped out along the way, to make sure my pacing stays good throughout the race.”

Campos was the overwhelming favorite entering the race and had a six-minute lead on Klundt at the 14.1-mile marker. But Campos’ recent training has been hindered by a calf strain, and he limped home in third place at 2:50:23.

Nuci, 34, is a former cross-country athlete at Cal State Stanislaus who finished 21st overall in the 2006 Boston Marathon (2:20:45) and was hoping to eclipse 1:10 in Sunday’s half marathon before a marshall briefly led him off-course.

“I was surprised that they took me the wrong way,” Nuci said. “My job as a runner is to know the course, and I thought I knew it. When I got about six and a half miles out they told me to turn around, and I told them that, no, the course is a loop. They made me run back, and then they told me I was right.

“I was about to stop right there. I still got the course record, but it’s upsetting when you have a goal to run a certain time, and because of a mistake like that you miss your goal. I’m happy with the effort I put in, but I had to do the splits in my mind to figure out what I needed to do to break the course record.”

Rossi was barely winded after what for her was a brisk training run. She said she came to Modesto to compete in a race where there’s elbow room and was impressed with what she experienced.

“Last year I won the Oakland Half and this year I decided to mix it up a little bit and come out where I would have a little more room to run,” she said. “This doesn’t have as many turns as Oakland and it’s a well-constructed course – very appealing.”

Rossi, who also competes in triathlons, earned an automatic bib for this year’s Boston Marathon by running the course in 2:58:58 last year, good for fourth in the women’s 45-49 age group. She turns 46 next week.

“I think I’m capable of a 2:55,” she said. “I’ve done a 2:58, and Boston is downhill so if we get good weather without a lot of wind I should be good.”

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or (209) 578-2150. His blog is at www.modbee.com/brianvanderbeek.

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