49 Year Old Linda Somers Smith Wins Inaugural 2010 Dodge Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon

By Competitor Group, Running USA Wire
October 24, 2010

12,000 running stars come out for debut; finish line performance by current chart-toppers Neon Trees at L.A. LIVE

LOS ANGELES - (October 24, 2010) - Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa led a field of more than 12,000 entrants who rocked the first ever Dodge Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon on Sunday morning. While the celebrities received most of the pre-race attention at the start line, it was a couple of California runners who stole the show at the finish line.

Employing an emphatic move with three quarters of a mile to go in the race, 36-year-old Jacques Sallberg of Pasadena pulled away from Lafayette, Louisiana's Kevin Castille to win in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 27 seconds. Castille, who finished fifth in 1:06:47 at the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon three weeks ago, had no response for Sallberg's sensational surge but held on to finish second in 1:06:45.

"My only goal was to win," said Sallberg, who ran a personal best by almost two minutes. "I live close to here so this was real exciting. I'm in good shape and getting ready for a full marathon in a few weeks so this is a big confidence boost for me."

Oceanside's Sergio Gonzalez, who won the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon in early June, rounded out the top three with a 1:07:55 finish.

Sallberg and Castille separated themselves from the rest of the field just before the 5 mile mark. The pair ran together for the next seven and a half miles, trading jabs up and down the hills that made up the second half of the point-to point route, before an exciting final mile heading into the finish line downtown. Castille tried to make a decisive surge up and over the Beaudry Avenue Hill with a mile and a half to go, but Sallberg wouldn't let him get too far ahead.

"He helped me out a lot," Sallberg said of Castille. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have run that fast."

In the women's race, the second time was the charm for Arroyo Grande's Linda Somers Smith, as the 49-year-old 1996 U.S. Olympic marathoner won in dominating fashion. Crossing the finish line in 1:14:48, Smith outdistanced herself from the runner-up Cheryl Smith of Laguna Beach by 3 minutes and 24 seconds.

"I was hoping to run around 1:16," said Smith, who is preparing for the ING New York City Marathon on November 7. "I tried to hold back, but I felt good."

This was the second Rock 'n' Roll event this month for the evergreen Smith, who ran a pending U.S. 45-49 age group record of 1:13:31 in finishing second to 2008 U.S. Olympic marathoner Blake Russell at the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon on October 3. Now just two weeks away from her New York City Marathon debut, Smith is heading to The Big Apple feeling fit and prepared.

"It gives me more confidence," said Smith, who in New York will be trying to improve upon the 2:36:33 she posted in finishing sixth at the Honda LA Marathon last March.

Finishing in third place behind Somers Smith and Smith was Johanna Bonfiglio of Carlsbad, who clocked 1:19:19.

The event began with a moving tribute to 16-year-old Conor Lynch, a local cross country runner who was killed by a hit and run driver just days ago. A handful of notable celebrities participated in the race, including Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was accompanied along the course by 2004 Olympic bronze medalist and mom-to-be Deena Kastor, actors Jerry O'Connell (1:50:45) and James Marsden (1:50:44), along with former NFL great Roger Craig, who completed the 13.1-mile race with his two children.

With celebrities running the race and live bands entertaining runners at every mile, participants were cheered across the finish line by a line of smiling Laker Girls. At L.A. Live, Neon Trees treated runners to a rocking rendition of their chart-topping single "Animal", which recently became the first song to top the Alternative chart and reach the top 20 of the Hot 100 since Linkin Park's "New Divide" in June 2009. The post-race festival featured an assortment of Gourmet Food Trucks in a race that was quintessentially LA.

The second Dodge Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon will take place on Halloween Weekend, in October 2011.

Inaugural Dodge Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon
Los Angeles, CA, Sunday, October 24, 2010

MEN
1) Jacques Sallberg (CA), 1:06:27, $2500*
2) Kevin Castille (LA), 1:06:45, $1000
3) Sergio Gonzalez (CA), 1:07:55, $1500*

WOMEN
1) Linda Somers Smith, 49, CA, 1:14:48, $2250^
2) Cheryl Smith (CA), 1:18:12, $2000*
3) Johanna Bonfiglio (CA), 1:19:19, $1750*
*Includes separate prize purse for Southern California residents
^Includes top Masters prize money

For complete results and more, go to: http://los-angeles.competitor.com

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