GONZALES >> After being canceled last year because of wildfire smoke, the eighth annual Salinas Valley Half Marathon came off without a hitch Saturday.
Justin Carrancho, 22, of Watsonville owned the men’s division of the Salinas Valley Half Marathon on Saturday.
He took the lead early in the 13.1-mile run and finished in 01:12.10, five minutes a head of his nearest competitor, and churning out a 05:30 minute mile.
Jaime Garcia, 19, of Greenfield, and Robert Mead, 29, of Templeton, battled it out before the end, finishing second and third, respectively. Both had times of 01:17.05.
Mead nearly passed Garcia at the finish line. Both collapsed momentarily on a small patch of grass before congratulating each other.
Eva Perry, 23, an active duty member of the Army attending the Defense Language Institute, won the women’s division. Her time was 01:30.00. It was her first time entering the Salinas Valley Half Marathon. She is from Issaquah, Washington.
Perry finished more than two minutes ahead of second-place finisher Isabela Loscher, 26, of Los Angeles. Loscher crossed the finish line in 01:32.54. Monica Jo Gilmore, 35, of Aromas, was close behind in third place with a time of 01:33:23.
The Big Sur International Marathon, which puts on the race, canceled last year’s event when heavy smoke from the Soberanes Fire was blown into Salinas Valley, making it unsafe to run.
The only smoke at this year’s event was from the barbecue pit at the finish.
Runners who had registered for last year’s event had the option of complimentary registration at this year’s race or the Monterey Bay Half Marathon last November. About 300…
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