America's Finest City Half Marathon

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America's Finest City Half Marathon
The Cabrillo National Monument is the race start point
Date August
Location San Diego
Event type Road
Distance Half marathon
Established 1978
Official site America's Finest City Half Marathon

America's Finest City Half Marathon is an annual road running event over the half marathon distance 21.0975 kilometres (13.1094 mi) which is held in mid-August on the streets of San Diego, California. ("America's Finest City" is the official nickname of the city of San Diego.[1]) The race was inaugurated in 1978 and has been held every year since then. By 1985, more than 6000 professional and amateur runners were taking part in the race each year.[2] Both men and women are able to enter into the half marathon and shorter 5 kilometer fun run.[3]

The race is used to raise money for the American Lung Association and in its first fourteen years of existence it had cumulatively raised US$1.7 million for the non-profit organization. The race was sponsored by the Home Federal Bank in the 1980s and early 1990s.[4][5] The organizers endured financial difficulties in 1992 after the loss of its title sponsor.[6] The race remained popular, however, and the following year over five thousand runners took part; among them was television host Oprah Winfrey, running under the pseudonym "Bobbi Jo Jenkins" and accompanied by a bodyguard, a trainer, and a video crew.[7] At the 33rd edition in 2010, the half marathon and 5K races attracted an international field of almost 10,000 runners and the event had raised $3.8 million for non-profit organizations.[8] That year, Ethiopian training partners Ezkyas Sisay and Belaynesh Zemedkun topped the men's and women's fields respectively.[9]

The course of the half marathon has a point-to-point format. It starts on the Point Loma Peninsula next to the Cabrillo National Monument – some 300 feet (91 m) above sea-level. The course heads north and descends towards San Diego Bay. Turning eastwards onto North Harbor Drive, the race enters a flat straight around the five mile (8 km) mark. After looping around Harbor Island the course heads south, passing near the Star of India museum ship and San Diego Broadway. It traces a path northwards at this point, heading along Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street on its way to Downtown San Diego. The race finishing point is Pan American Plaza in Balboa Park.[10]

Kenyan Nelson Oyugi holds the men's half marathon course record of 1:01:59, while Belaynesh Zemedkun is the women's record holder with her time of 1:10:28.[11] The men's race over the distance has been dominated by Kenyans, with 13 wins since the mid-1990s, but Americans are historically strong on the women's side with seventeen race wins. The United States has produced the most winners overall, with 25 of the half marathon's winners hailing from the host country. Patrick Muturi of Kenya is the only man to win the race twice. Maria Trujillo has the most wins to her name, having won the race on four occasions.

Past half marathon winners[edit]

America's Kirk Pfeffer won the 1981 edition.
Japan's Hiromi Ominami won the women's race twice consecutively between 2007 and 2008.

Key:   Course record

Edition Year Men's winner Time (h:m:s) Women's winner Time (h:m:s)
1st 1978  Ben Wilson (USA) 1:06:36  Marty Cooksey (USA) 1:15:04
2nd 1979  Gary Close (USA) 1:06:36  Kathy Mintie (USA) 1:14:50
3rd 1980 †  Terry Cotton (USA) 1:06:20  Laurie Binder (USA) 1:17:43
4th 1981  Kirk Pfeffer (USA) 1:02:55  Elizabeth Baker (USA) 1:17:02
5th 1982  Domingo Tibaduiza (COL) 1:03:46  Laura DeWald (USA) 1:16:55
6th 1983  Rick Musgrave (USA) 1:04:08  Nancy Ditz (USA) 1:14:31
7th 1984  Ibrahim Kivina (TAN) 1:03:36  Carol McLatchie (USA) 1:15:06
8th 1985  Jerry Kiernan (IRL) 1:03:15  Laurie Binder (USA) 1:17:43
9th 1986  Joel Hernández (MEX) 1:03:41  Terry Adams (SUI) 1:16:22
10th 1987  Marty Froelick (USA) 1:04:31  Maria Trujillo (USA) 1:15:17
11th 1988  Carlos Retiz (MEX) 1:03:40  Sylvia Mosqueda (USA) 1:11:31
12th 1989  Alejandro Cruz (MEX) 1:03:56  Maria Trujillo (USA) 1:13:41
13th 1990  José Luis Chuela (MEX) 1:04:38  Laura LaMena (USA) 1:13:00
14th 1991  Rafael Muñoz (MEX) 1:04:06  Kathleen Bowman (USA) 1:14:18
15th 1992  Jose Marcos Camargo (BRA) 1:08:36  Laura LaMena (USA) 1:16:23
16th 1993  Alfredo Vigueras (USA) 1:04:32  Maria Trujillo (USA) 1:16:17
17th 1994  Patrick Muturi (KEN) 1:03:33  Roseli Machado (BRA) 1:14:44
18th 1995  Driss Dacha (MAR) 1:05:11  Lisa Ondieki (AUS) 1:12:52
19th 1996  John Kagwe (KEN) 1:03:28  Mari Tanigawa (JPN) 1:13:11
20th 1997  Patrick Muturi (KEN) 1:02:51  Maria Trujillo (USA) 1:15:04
21st 1998  Jonathan Ndambuki (KEN) 1:03:16  Taeko Terauchi (JPN) 1:14:29
22nd 1999  Simon Sawe (KEN) 1:03:22  Tina Connelly (CAN) 1:14:04
23rd 2000  Peter Githuka Mwangi (KEN) 1:02:24  Cristina Pomacu (ROM) 1:10:44
24th 2001  Wilson Onsare (KEN) 1:02:45  Margaret Okayo (KEN) 1:10:38
25th 2002  Mbarak Hussein (KEN) 1:03:00  Sylvia Mosqueda (USA) 1:12:34
26th 2003  Kazuhiro Matsuda (JPN) 1:03:57  Silvia Skvortsova (RUS) 1:14:24
27th 2004  Joseph Matui Kiprono (KEN) 1:04:25  Alevtina Ivanova (RUS) 1:15:01
28th 2005  Nephat Kinyanjui (KEN) 1:03:18  Tatyana Chulakh (RUS) 1:13:35
29th 2006  Wilson Chebet Kwambai (KEN) 1:02:38  Tatyana Chulakh (RUS) 1:14:12
30th 2007  Nelson Kiplagat Birgen (KEN) 1:04:25  Hiromi Ominami (JPN) 1:12:49
31st 2008  Justin Young (USA) 1:05:46  Hiromi Ominami (JPN) 1:12:47
32nd 2009  Ernest Kiprugut Kebenei (KEN) 1:04:01  Belaynesh Zemedkun (ETH) 1:10:49
33rd 2010  Eskyas Sisay (ETH) 1:03:58  Belaynesh Zemedkun (ETH) 1:10:28
34th 2011  Tesfaye Sendiku Alemayehu (ETH) 1:03:44  Paula Whiting (NZL) 1:16:47
35th 2012  Weldon Kirui (KEN) 1:03:18  Mary Akor (USA) 1:17:17
36th 2013  Nelson Oyugi (KEN) 1:01:59  Wendy Thomas (USA) 1:13:15
37th 2014  Nelson Oyugi (KEN) 1:05:17  Lindsey Scherf (USA) 1:14:33
38th 2015  Kevin Kochei  (KEN) 1:04:19  Janet Bawcom (USA) 1:12:24
  • † = The 1980 course was mis-marked and was around 800 metres longer than the true half marathon distance.



  1. ^ City of San Diego website
  2. ^ Scott, Steve (1985-08-26). Kiernan Beats Heat to Win AFC Half Marathon. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-09-23.
  3. ^ Frequently Asked Questions. America's Finest City Half Marathon. Retrieved on 2010-09-23.
  4. ^ Parenti, Jeffrey (1988-08-22). Fast Times at Half Marathon: Three Women Beat Record. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-09-23.
  5. ^ Geis, John (1990-08-18). Swai Hopes Comeback Trail Includes Victory in Half Marathon. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-09-23.
  6. ^ Geis, John (1992-08-15). Half Marathon Runs for Its Financial Life. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-09-23.
  7. ^ Oprah Enters a Half Marathon. The Tuscaloosa News (1993-08-18). Retrieved on 2010-09-23.
  8. ^ Malloy, Patrice (2010-08-16). Ethiopian Couple Wins America's Finest City Half Marathon. Running USA/Cool Running. Retrieved on 2010-09-23.
  9. ^ Thien, Glae (2010-08-16). Ethiopians win San Diego Half Marathon. Ethiopian Review/San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved on 2010-09-22.
  10. ^ Course Map. America's Finest City Half Marathon. Retrieved on 2010-09-23.
  11. ^ Top Times for the America's Finest City Half Marathon. America's Finest City Half Marathon. Retrieved on 2010-09-24.
List of winners

External links[edit]