Running the final yards of his 26.2-mile journey through Fresno and Clovis on Sunday, Jesus Campos reached out to swap high-fives with spectators lining the finish of the Two Cities Marathon & Half.
Campos' fourth straight men's overall victory was as crisp as the weather, with the 28-year-old Fresno teacher finishing in 2 hours, 29 minutes, 20 seconds.
It wasn't near his personal best of 2:24:27 from a year ago, but it was more than 3 minutes better than runner-up Jae Yung Hyung of Albuquerque, N.M., as Campos added another $1,500 winner's check to his collection.
"I ran hard and just wanted to keep my pace," said Campos, who admitted to a little fatigue after finishing third in the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon a week ago.
"I could feel it in the first half of the race and I pushed through that in the last half."
Visalia's Brittani Snyder won the women's marathon in a personal-best 3:28:54. The victory was all the more impressive for a 34-year-old who is an avid runner but was running just her third marathon.
Despite some wind, runners seemed mostly pleased with Sunday's races that also included Fresno and Clovis half marathons.
The marathon drew about 4,200 runners, down from past years though organizers put a tighter limit on registrations in an attempt to curb overcrowding along the Clovis portion of the course.
That still was an issue for Mario Macias, but he managed to bob and weave his way through runners along the Sugar Pine Trail on his way back to Woodward Park to win the Clovis Half in 1:07:29.
The half-marathon courses slightly overlap sections of the marathon route, which stretches across north Fresno on Shepherd Avenue, then into Clovis on the Sugar Pine Trail.
After a short loop around Old Town Clovis, runners double back to Woodward Park, but not before an up-and-back section on Friant Road that contains the only significant hill.
On a 50-degree morning, wind gusted to 10-15 mph and pushed and pulled runners along the way.
"The wind smacks you right in the face around mile 6 or 7 and slows you down quite a bit," said Sean Marzolf, second among the men in the Clovis Half.
Marzolf, a former Fresno State distance standout and 2007 Valley Runner of the Year series champ, was timed in 1:12:59.
Some in the field used the day as a tune-up.
Maria Rivera, last year's women's marathon runner-up, ran the Clovis Half this year as she trains for the California International Marathon that travels a course from Folsom to Sacramento on Dec. 8.
The 25-year-old mother from Visalia was a champion while making the cutback this year, running 13.1 miles in 1:22:23. Exeter's Allison Gonzales was second in 1:23:37.
Runners crossed the finish line in a variety of ways — many sprinting but others skipping. There were smiles, but others fought off cramps or limped or crawled on all fours at the end.
Jorge Pereyra proudly held up the Uruguayan flag as he finished fifth in the Clovis Half.
The 55-year-old from Montevideo was visiting Fresno and competing in the Two Cities before running in the Las Vegas stop on the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon tour in two weeks.
"It was a fun race," Pereyra said. "The course wasn't difficult, the weather was great and I ran hard. I'll always remember Fresno for this great event."
Men's overall top 3: Jesus Campos 2:29:20; Jae Yung Hyung 2:32:28; Matthew Morales 2:35:41.
Women's overall top 3: Brittani Snyder 3:28:54; Karen Wester 3:32.44; Melanie Amatt 3:34.30
CLOVIS HALF MARATHON
Men: Mario Macias
Women: Maria Rivera
FRESNO HALF MARATHON
Men: Samuel Silva
Women: Katie Sandoval
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