Jesus Campos wasn’t even sure he was going to compete in the ninth annual Modesto Marathon.
The 2013 and 2015 champion, who set a course record with his first victory, had been battling injuries and was only now getting back into shape.
“I got injured during Christmas break,” said the Spanish teacher from Fresno, who will run the Boston Marathon on April 16. “So I’ve been running for a month and a half. I barely signed up, like, on Wednesday.”
Despite limited training time, Campos took advantage of the flat course and ideal race conditions to finish in 2 hours, 33 minutes, 10 seconds, for his third Modesto title.
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Campos came into the race not expecting much, but at around Mile 22, he realized the race was there for the taking.
“I felt good and I saw the one who was in first place, he was kind of slowing down a little bit,” said the 33-year-old Campos. “So I said, ‘I think I can take it.’ And then I felt really good the last four or five miles.”
Local favorite Jon Olsen crossed the finish line fourth place and gave a little shake of his head.
The competitor inside the Modesto resident wasn’t pleased that three others crossed the line before he did, but the runner inside knew that a time of 2:36:48 was a good one, especially given the fact that he’s just a few weeks removed from a 100-mile race in Las Vegas.
“I just felt like from the beginning, probably after Mile 2, I felt heavy-chested,” said Olsen, 43. “I felt like I had a bear on my chest the whole race. … It was really a mental grind today.”
“I’m not happy with the result. I would’ve liked to have finished better than fourth, but three weeks removed from a 100-mile race, my legs were a little heavy and weren’t ready for the type of pace I was running today.”
Olsen turned a pace of just under 6 minutes per mile, while Campos turned a pace of 5:50 per mile.
Wanwen Qi was the women’s champion, turning in a time of 2:58:47. The 42-year-old Pleasanton resident came into the race, like Campos, with limited expectations.
“I achieved my A goal which was sub-three hours,” said Qi. “When I reached the half point, I feel like I still had a lot of energy inside me. People kept telling me, ‘You’re the first lady.’”
Madera’s Benjamin Madrigal, 30, was men’s half-marathon winner (1:14:55), while Tiffany McBroom, 30, of Pacific Grove won the women’s half (1:20:50).
Fifteen-year-old Roberto De Loera Jr. of Sanger won the men’s 5-kilometer race (17:20), while 40-year-old Ramona Sanchez of Sparks, Nev., took the women’s 5K (17:22).
For complete results, visit SVEtiming.com.