Fresno’s Cabada wins San Francisco half-marathon, turns focus to Boston

Fernando Cabada of Fresno, considered a top American entrant in next month’s Boston Marathon, warmed up Sunday by winning the third annual Transamerica Rock ’n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon in a course-record 1 hour, 6 minutes and 26 seconds.

“It gives me a lot of pride to represent the Central Valley and represent California,” Cabada said. “This is where it all started for me. I’ve been away a long time but last year I came back for good and it’s been a lot of fun. In the past couple years I’ve been going in the right direction. I’m heading into the prime of my career and I just want to take advantage of it.”

The 32-year-old Cabada, a former star at Buchanan High School, grabbed control of the race from the start, opening up a 10-second gap by the 1-mile mark (5:30) en route to his wire-to-wire win. Cabada rolled through 5K in 16:03, 38 seconds up on his closest pursuers, two-time defending champion Chris Mocko (third, 1:10:02) and Xavier Rodriguez (second, 1:09:44). At 10K (32:42), Cabada’s advantage had grown to 1:16 over Rodriguez and by 10 miles (50:38), he had added another minute to his already comfortable cushion. Heading up Polk Street just past 11 miles — the course’s final uphill section — Cabada focused on keeping his effort level in check so he could enjoy the screaming downhill finish into Civic Center Plaza.

“Today I just had fun out there,” said Cabada, who got a charge out of seeing his cousin, Chris Velez, running in the opposite direction on the Golden Gate Bridge just after Mile 7. “I really didn’t even worry about pace. I just wanted to break 1:07. Those hills were tough but I liked the way my body was feeling.”

In the women’s race, Tania Morimoto, also prepping for Boston, pulled away from her closest pursuers with five miles to go, winning in 1:20:54.

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