Sacramento Running News

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Mocko and Yanko Win at Napa Valley Marathon

March 04, 2015 By: John Blue Category: General Running News, Masters Runners, Road Races

Mason Myers deserved a fist bump for his masters win in 2:41:26.

Mason Myers deserved a fist bump for his masters win in 2:41:26.

Local Men Dominate

By Mark Winitz

NAPA, Calif. — Two-time Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon winners Chris Mocko and Devon Yanko ascended the winners platform yet again at today’s 37th Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon.

Mocko, age 28, of Folsom, who previously won the race in 2011 and 2012, emerged victorious in the men’s race with a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes, and 6 seconds.

Yanko (née Crosby-Helms), 32, of San Anselmo, dominated the women’s field after previously emerging victorious at the Napa Valley Marathon (NVM) in 2007 and 2012. The winners headed a sold-out field of 3,000 entrants who were greeted by blue skies, little wind, and ideal temperatures in the low-40s rising to around 60 degrees by the 6-hour finish cut-off time.

In the men’s race, a threesome composed of Mocko, 2013 NVM men’s champion Kevin Pool (Folsom), and Ron Young (Reno) navigated the early miles of the rolling, point-to-point 26.2 mile course from Calistoga to Napa together, hitting the 6-mile split in 33:19. Young soon fell off the pace to an eventual seventh place finish as Mocko and Pool proceeded in lockstep, hitting halfway 13.1 miles in 1:12:25 and 18 miles in 1:38:55.

“I was told by my coach, Christo Landry, to take it as easy as possible today because I’m running a 50K next weekend and we’re in a buildup for a half marathon in April with a goal of qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials,” Mocko said. “So, I was hoping to have a nice easy race today, but Pool decided to make it a more aggressive pace.”

At the halfway point, the pair started picking up the clip, lowering the pace from 5:30 to 5:20.

“Having Pool with me made a huge difference, especially on the hill at mile 20,” said Mocko. “It didn’t even seem like a hill. But, all I could think about was that this isn’t what the coach wanted. I know how talented Kevin is, and knew that if I took it easy I’d be conceding the win and wine to him.”

The Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon rewards male and female open and masters winners with oversized bottles of wine etched with their championship accomplishments. The male and female winners of the race also receive their “weight-in-wine” donated by Clif Family Winery.

At mile 23, Mocko finally opened up a bit of a gap on Pool.

“I just tried to keep myself as close as possible (to Mocko), but I knew that if he continued at that pace I probably wasn’t going to catch him,” said Pool, who, like Mocko, is also focusing on a qualifying time for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. “But in a marathon, anything can happen.”

In this case, Mocko remained strong, hitting the finish line at Napa’s Vintage High School in 2:23:06, followed by Pool in 2:23:42. Kosuke Amano (30, San Diego, Calif.) was third in 2:31:18.

Unlike the men’s race, the women’s competition turned into a one-woman affair dominated by Yanko. Michelle Meyer, the NVM women’s champion in 2013, fell off Yanko’s pace early, leaving the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and accomplished ultra distance runner on her own. Yanko continued unchallenged to a 2:45:45 victory and an 8th place overall finish.

“I felt confident today,” said Yanko who struggled to a third place finish in 2014, running 2:52:54. “In last year’s race every step was a struggle and I was in tears because I was just coming off being severely anemic. My coach has given me the OK to try for a 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time at the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. And I’d like to PR in the marathon this year.”

Yanko’s current personal best at the marathon distance is 2:38:55.

Meyer, who has struggled with a recent injury on top of a heavy study schedule, is in her fourth year of medical school at University of California, San Francisco, finished second in 2:51:43. After she graduates in May, she will begin her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Anna Denn (Salem, Ore.) was third in 2:54:11.

Both overall winners, Mocko and Yanko, were crowned Road Runners Club of America Western Region marathon champions. The marathon served as Road Runners Club of America’s 2015 Western Regional Marathon Championship.

The Masters (age 40 and over) titles were earned by Mason Myers (45, Carmichael, Calif.) in 2:41:26 and Anne Cottrell (44, St. Helena, Calif.) in 3:01:44.

In the accompanying Greater Kiwanis Club of Napa 5K Run, Evan Sparling (28, San Francisco, Calif.) in 15:49 and Alyson Barrett-Ryan (36, San Francisco, Calif.) in 19:09 emerged as victors.

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