6,000 runners from all over the world gathered in Napa for the 44th annual event, which took place on March 5th. Both the marathon and half marathon, which wind through the scenic wine country of the world-renowned Napa Valley, are known for their fast courses and breathtaking views.
Weather conditions on race day ranged from cold, raining, and hailing to sunny and warm, providing a challenge for runners. Despite the unpredictable weather, athletes showed incredible grit and determination as they pushed themselves to finish the race. Volunteers and spectators alike braved the elements in support of the participants as well. Not even a marriage proposal could be stopped by the moody skies.
This year’s winners were impressive. Repeat women’s champion, Ann Centner of Tallahassee, Florida completed the marathon in 2:43:07, and Nicholas Spector, a native of Sonoma, raced an impressive time of 2:18:30. Spector, who had hoped to meet the Olympic trials qualifying standard, stated, “Overall it is still a big win for me since Napa is my hometown marathon.” Despite having to run mostly alone in tough conditions, Nick stuck to his game plan and was able to make a late-race surge, overtaking the early leader and came out on top.
Yesterday was also a special day for local runner Jonathan Pascual who raced the marathon after a seven-year absence due to being diagnosed with stage IV cancer. “This was a big race for me. Running taught me how to be resilient. It has prepared me to deal with life’s difficulties. It has allowed me to withstand the advancement of cancer, and it feels incredible to have been able to race again,” says Pascual.
In addition to the marathon, the event featured a half marathon and the Kiwanis Club of Greater Napa 5K, giving runners of all abilities the opportunity to participate. Half Marathon winner Kayla Knapp set a course record with a time of 1:14:32 and Zachary Hine was among one of the fastest runners the event has ever seen.
“Our event has seen immense growth and success since 2019 when we added the half marathon and frankly, it’s been difficult to keep up with,” says Race Director and President of Blistering Pace Race Management, Michelle La Sala. “We are hosting thousands more people from all over the globe, top tier athletes into a budding elite race, and providing the best hospitality and experience to participants, friends, and family that our team can deliver. It’s exciting to experience and a constant challenge that keeps us busy. I know I speak for the board of directors and myself when I say that being a resident of Napa makes what the race has grown into extra special.”
The 2023 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon and Half Marathon is not only a celebration of running but also a celebration of community. The event is made possible by the Napa Valley Marathon, Inc. board of directors, partners including long-time title sponsor Kaiser Permanente, Blistering Pace Race Management, and the hard work of key captains and over 1,000 dedicated volunteers. For the full 2023 official results, click here. For additional information about the race and how to sign up for next year, visit napavalleymarathon.org.
About the Napa Valley Marathon, Inc.: Napa Valley Marathon, Inc. is a non-profit organization that has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars back into the local community over its 44-year tenure. Proceeds from the event will go into supporting charitable endeavors in the Napa Valley in the form of educational scholarships and donations to service, cause, and environmentally based groups. For more information, visit www.napavalleymarathon.org.
About Blistering Pace Race Management: Founded in 2016, BPRM works in a variety of race management capacities, ranging from staffing to full operational oversight. Clients include the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon and Half Marathon, Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon (10K & 5K), the Big Sur Marathon Foundation, Chicago Event Management, and the New York Road Runners. For more information, visit www.blisteringpace.com.