Two Berkeley runners win city’s first half marathon

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Runners leave the starting gate at Berkeley’s first half marathon on Sunday Nov. 24, 2013. Photo: Christian Kreibich

Update, Dec. 12, 2013: We’re sorry to report that Kenny Speirs, the man who collapsed during the Berkeley Half Marathon, passed away on Dec. 11. Speirs had been in the hospital since suffering a heart attack while taking part in the marathon. Speirs was an English lecturer at UC Berkeley and leaves behind a family.

Original story: Berkeley resident Anna Bretan and UC Berkeley student JP Slater were the winners of today’s first Berkeley Half Marathon. Bretan, who won the 2013 San Francisco Marathon, had an unofficial time of 1:17:19. at the inaugural event, while Slater won the men’s field with an unofficial time of 1:07:05.

There was one medical emergency when a man collapsed while taking part in the race. Fortuitously, a group of physicians from UCSF happened to be watching the race very close to where he went down on the pedestrian path on West Frontage Road that runs parallel to the bay and I-80. A UCSF radiologist performed CPR on the man before emergency responders from Alameda Fire Department attended to the runner, according to authorities. He showed improvement and was transported to Alta Bates Hospital, where he was in stable condition this afternoon, according to a marathon representative.


Emergency paramedics from Alameda Fire Department responded to an emergency call for the runner who collapsed while taking part in the Berkeley half marathon today. Photo: Ted Friedman

Berkeley’s first-ever half marathon kicked off at 8 a.m. today at Civic Center Park. The event in fact encompassed three races: a half-marathon, a “Bearable” 10-mile race, and a 10-kilometer race. The main marathon route took runners up to the edge of the Cal campus, before heading west down University Avenue for a circuit of the marina and Cesar Chavez Park before a stretch along the bay. (View a map of the route.) All the races ended at Golden Gate Fields.

Vallejo resident Jorge Maravilla came in second in the half marathon with an unofficial time of 1:09:31. Oakland resident Magdalena Boulet came in second in the women’s field for the half marathon distance with an unofficial time of 1:18:58. John Constas of Danville won the men’s field for the Bearable 10-Miler with an unofficial time of 1:00:00, while Cindy Cox of Alameda, CA won the women’s field with an unofficial time of 1:05:11.

The Berkeley Half Marathon drew nearly 8,000 runners participating in one of the three race distances. More than $50,000 was raised for participating charities including Berkeley Public Schools Fund, Berkeley Partners for Parks and the Berkeley Food and Housing Project.

[Hat tip: Ted Friedman.]

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend (11.22.13)
Downtown Berkeley to host first half marathon (08.29.13)

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  • Scott

    Me and my daughter ran it together, had a great time and was impressed with the organization, nice job to those that put it on!

  • Runberkeley

    I request more photos to be posted! Maybe of the great volunteers and the winners! This was a great and sucessful inaugural race!

  • Retired RN

    Don’t think 2 doctors performed CPR, it was 2 runners, pictured embracing in photo near ambulance,

  • Shoshana

    It really bothered me that the tur- around signs at Emeryville and at the northern section of the Bay Trail had arrows going the wrong way. AND if those two signs has been switched, it would have been 100% correct. Attention to detail, people!! Otherwise, great race. Thanks for everyone who put it on- especially the volunteers!

  • Great run!! It was a blast to do a course that I was pretty familiar with from training

  • J

    All of us who stopped to help were runners. It’s possible one or more of them people who performed CPR were doctors, but they all stopped running the race to help, and were there within seconds of him collapsing.

  • local runner

    So happy to hear the man is in stable condition. That was tough to witness and I prayed the rest of the way

  • Igor Tregub

    Major props to the organizers of this race and all the volunteers! The community spirit was visible at every turn – both during and prior to the race, when they “Liked” our Facebook post about using the race to fundraise for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. It was wonderful to witness such a successful launch, and I hope the Berkeley Half will become an annual fixture!

  • Joseph Condon

    J, I was breathing for him alternating with another person. When the above photo was taken I had just run off to complete the half. I believe the doctor showed up around seven minutes into the event. We saw, and we responded. Nice work. I hope He makes a full recovery. I want to run again with him. He had a good pace.

  • PJ

    This was a very well organized event – especially for the inaugural event. Lots of supporters along the race route. In the future, it can probably be simplified to offer 2 options (1/2 marathon & 10k?) as that may have contributed to the signage confusion from another reader. However, I hope this race continues going forward as it was very well run.

  • punaise

    Well done! Great inaugural event. I ran the 10k (matching my Bay to Breakers pace) while my daughter bagged her first half marathon in 1:45 and change. She witnessed the medical emergency and will be happy to know all is well.

  • J

    Thanks so much for doing the hard work – you guys were like a machine! I’m amazed at how everyone came together so quickly to help, and I hope we can all run with him next year – we’d make a good pace group!

  • JR

    The spirit of Berkeley was definitely alive at the event. I even saw a guy running barefoot!

  • I was just behind you guys as you started giving CPR – I could not believe how incredibly proficient you all worked together. It was scary and disturbing to see him there – twice – it really affected my run a lot. I’m so glad you all were there and knew how to do the right thing.

  • Grateful

    I just wanted to say that the man who collapsed is my English professor – it was weird showing up to class today with a sub. He’s never missed a day so far. It’s good to hear that he was in good hands right away. Thank you. Having done two marathons and an ironman, and being in the same place as you, watching a fellow athlete go down and attending to them, i know the position you all were, and can’t thank you enough. So again. Thank you. If we ever happen to cross paths, let me at least get you a coffee or a beer or something :)

  • Timothy Smith
  • Aa

    I did not get any of your names as we went through CPR yesterday but I wanted to say what an amazing group of people you all are. It is amazing how well we worked and communicated through this time. I hope the runner makes a full recovery.

  • Joseph Condon

    We did what we had to do in a very proficient manner. Kenny was in good hands.

  • Joseph Condon

    What school does he teach at? I am sure He will be back soon.

  • TheShamen

    Thank you to everyone who assisted and who has expressed concern here. The man is married to my wife’s cousin, and we have word within the family that he is in a coma and probably will not recover brain function. We are all in deep shock and sadness.

  • TheShamen

    This article should be updated as it contains a number of errors, as pointed out by comments below. The man who collapsed is married to my wife’s cousin, and we have word within the family that he is in a coma and probably will not recover brain function. We are all in deep shock and sadness.

  • serkes