Winners make it look easy

Texan, Santa Rosa native are top man, woman — by far — in field of 15,000 runners

Andrew Cook seemed so calm and relaxed as he sipped his energy drink, it looked like the only thing missing was the Sunday paper and the Barcalounger.

The 25-year-old from Denton, Texas, barely broke stride as he crossed the finish line to win the San Francisco Marathon on Sunday, pumping his fist as he broke the tape in two hours, 26 minutes and 46 seconds. He wasn’t even breathing heavily immediately afterward as he walked up the Embarcadero and smiled in celebration of his first career marathon win.

“It feels really wonderful, and the crowd was great out there,” Cook said. “It was a good challenge for me with all the hills, but a very scenic and beautiful course.”

Cook was one of more than 15,000 racers to compete in either the marathon, two half marathons or the 5K race. The course is viewed by some as a potential marathon route should San Francisco be awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics.

One runner died while competing in the event, officials said.

Details of the death were limited because event organizers said they could not comment on the runner’s death until the family was notified. Calls to the San Francisco medical examiner were not returned.

Cook, who has already qualified for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, led the event nearly wire to wire, edging ahead in the third mile of the 26.2-mile race and opening up a half-mile lead by the midway point. He kept up a 5:36 mile pace throughout the morning to finish nearly six minutes ahead of runner-up Tony Torres (2:32:40).

“It was worrisome running alone — I had to keep looking over my shoulder,” Cook said. “You’re always afraid someone’s coming.”

Cook, a high school history teacher who trains by himself in the Texas heat and averages about 100 miles a week, said the cool San Francisco weather allowed him to push himself.

“If I can run sub-5:40 miles in 100 degree weather at home, I should be able to do it here,” Cook said. “The wind was a little blustery on the bridge — I only weigh 125 pounds — but even at the end I was still feeling pretty good.”

San Francisco’s Craig Gaites was the top local male finisher, as his 2:43:05 placed him seventh.

On the women’s side, Julia Stamps-Mallon made it a successful homecoming, completing the course in 2:54:55 to win a marathon for the first time in her career. The 27-year-old Santa Rosa native and Stanford graduate, who now lives in New York City, returned to the Bay Area for the race.

“That was so fun — how could it not be crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge and down the coast?” Stamps-Mallon said. “San Francisco is always inspirational, and I’m really pleased to have won.”

Chloe Glare of Menlo Park finished second (3:05:42). Other top local women included Meghan Kelly (fifth, 3:18:48) and Ivana Donelson (seventh, 3:21:54), both of San Francisco.

melliser@examiner.comOther Sportssports

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