Ivan Medina watched Ezekiel Kiptoo Chebii begin the 11th annual U.S. Bank Orange County Marathon at an intense pace.
Medina then watched the Kenyan runner wither at the effects of taking it out so strongly. The 29-year-old originally from Michoacan, Mexico made his move near the 23-mile mark and overtook Chebii, who was fresh off a repeat victory in the Madrid Marathon April 26.
Medina came across the finish line alone to win his first marathon in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 21 seconds Sunday at the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa. The 26.2-mile race began early in the morning at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
Bonnie Keating, 30, of San Diego won the women's marathon for the second straight year in 2:47:31.
"It was a tactical race," said Medina, who now lives in Hayward. "I was very smart because there were a lot of hills. Eventually, if you go out too fast you're going to crash. So the guy leading the race, [Chebii], he crashed. Mile 22 or 23, I caught up to him and it was over. He was dead. I was relieved that I actually took it out slow and picked it up toward the end."
Chebii finished in 2:39:30. By that time Medina had finished a few interviews and posed for a few photos. Also during that time, a running fan, Sean Harris of Azusa, proposed to his girlfriend and half-marathon runner Lenna Madden of Monrovia at the finish line. She said yes.
Medina, who won the OC half-marathon last year, said he dedicated his first marathon victory to his late grandmother, Maria Luisa.
"I'm really happy," Medina said. "I wanted to win a marathon in honor of my grandmother. She passed away in February. For me winning this race, it's very special."
Medina and Keating won $1,500 each for taking first place.
The half-marathon winners were awarded $300 each. Malcolm Richards, 32, of San Francisco led the men, finishing in 1:05:50 and Liz Camy, 31, of Simi Valley, was the women's champ in 1:18:27.
Last year, Keating won the women's OC Marathon when she was Bonnie Axman. She said that she got married last year.
She said it was "awesome" to repeat at the OC Marathon, but felt just "OK" with her winning time.
"It's not where I want to be but it motivates me to get better," she said. "Halfway into it I was on pace for my goal time [of 2:43:00] and then about the 18-mile mark I started dropping off. I don't know if it was fatigue or training is not where it needs to be. I took the lead at mile two. But I went out a tad quick so I was paying for it the last six miles."
This year's OC Marathon, which also includes a half-marathon and the Wahoo's OC 5K, featured 15,000 total runners.
Last year's event featured the largest-ever field at 22,000 runners, 2,000 more than the previous year, 2013.
There weren't as many half-marathon runners this year than in 2014, race director Gary Kutscher said.
A lot of that had to do with the popularity of next week's Tinkerbell Half-Marathon at Disneyland that's expecting 22,000 runners, Kutscher said.
Still, Kutscher remained happy and cheered on runners as they passed the Hangar at the OC Fair and Event Center. That's where 80s cover band Flashback Heart Attack performed at the Ultimate Finish Line Party. The concert also featured Wally Palmar of the Romantics, as well as Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow, Nick Richards of Boys Don't Cry and Clive Farrington of When In Rome.
Full Marathon (male)
1. Ivan Medina, 2:30:21, hometown of Hayward, Calif., 29 years old
2. Michael Wysocki, 22:33:32, hometown of Temecula, Calif., 24
3. Lupe Cabada, 2:35:12, hometown of Reno, Nev., 29
4. Bryan Kelly, 2:38:09, hometown Edwards, Calif., 31
5. Jose Merino, 2:38:35, hometown of Tarzana, Calif., 38
Full Marathon (female)
1. Bonnie Keating, 2:47:31, San Diego, Calif., 30
2. McKale Davis, 2:58:21, Scottsdale, Ariz., 30
3. Carla McAlister, 2:58:53, San Clemente, Calif.
4. Lauren Mitchell, 3:01:10, Madison, Ala., 30
5. Kate Kennedy, 3:06:27, Riverside, Calif., 25
Half Marathon (male)
1. Malcolm Richards, 1:05:50, San Francisco, Calif., 32
2. Juan Paredes, 1:07:01, Santa Ana, Calif., 25
3. Ryan Cosens, 1:07:21, Costa Mesa, Calif., 25
4. Xavier Rodriguez, 1:07:33, Poth, Texas, 25
5. Sean Barrett, 1:07:50, San Diego, Calif., 30
Half Marathon (female)
1. Liz Camy, 1:18:27, Simi Valley, Calif., 31
2. Kristi Young, 1:18:56, Reno, Nev., 46
3. Abigail Swift, 1:20:52, San Diego, Calif., 26
4. Lauren Floris, 1:21:22, Chino Hills, Calif., 24
5. Mary Colburn, 1:22:40, Culver City, Calif., 37
1. Hugo Beamish, 14:40, age 26
2. Roosevelt Cook, 14:47, Oak Hills, Calif., 35
3. Carlos Carballo, 15:09, Palm Springs, Calif., 32
1. Valeria Sanchez, 17:32, North Hollywood, Calif., 24
2. Andrea Guerra, 17:40, Anaheim, Calif., 24