USATF certified Naples Half Marathon is known as one of the fastest half marathons in the United States offering a substantial prize purse and stellar coastal backdrop. The course record of 1:02:41 wasn’t challenged during the 2022 edition due to extreme wind & humidity but two competitors put up a fierce battle right up until the final 400 meters.
Kiya Dandena who lead the race almost entirely from the gun was challenged by former Team USA steeplechase master Donnie Cowart who rallied at mile12 to pull up alongside the struggling race leader. The psychological warfare would not break the tall Ethiopian-American who lives & trains at altitude, was able to regroup and find an extra gear to out-kick his competitor on the final home stretch finishing in 01:05:36.
On paper Kiya had clear advantage with a 02:12:xx marathon personal best over Donnie’s 02:17:xx, both men Olympic Time Qualifiers but all bets were on Kiya wearing race Bib #2.
Bib #1 was reserved for runner Sergio Reyes who appeared cool and composed with a respectable finishing time of 01:11:00 for 7th place overall and 1st place Master. Local favorite Logan Howard who lives in trains in Naples Florida finishing in 8th place about 2 minutes behind Reyes.
Early on the two leaders were challenged by a chase pack that eventually came down to two athletes, Mason Jones NCAA DII 10,000m runner and Johnny Crain 02:12 marathoner who came in a minute behind the leaders 01:06:43 and 01:07 respectively.
On the women’s side, Canadian U23 National Record holder and 02:28:xx marathoner Branna MacDougall Bib #3 took the win in 01:14, 10th overall. Her PhysiKult club members finishing in her wake not far behind.
Threatening weather looming in the distance, Emergency Weather alerts began pinging cellphones warning of incoming severe front. Tornados and waterspouts thrashing off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico eventually spawned a rare South Florida EF4 tornado, whipping right through downtown Naples village forcing remaining competitors to be pulled off the course until the all clear was given by authorities.
A stellar race from gun to tape, one for the history books, caught on camera & stitched together by Michael M for BLACKWATCH.TV