The popularity of the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon continues to soar, and it is now one of the most prestigious races in the country, attracting some of the best names in the distance running.
Recently recognized as one of the top half-marathons in the world by Women’s Running magazine, the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon is featured on numerous “must-do” race lists, and Runners World magazine chose it as “Best Half Marathon Finish.”
This year’s 11th annual Wine Country Half Marathon sold out in 35 minutes back in November, and is slated for Sunday, July 20, with a start time of 7 a.m. at Cuvaison Estate Winery in Napa. The scenic 13.1-mile, certified course then winds into the Valley and ends in front of Sonoma City Hall on the Plaza.
Headlining the 2014 Napa-to-Sonoma race weekend will be Meb Keflezighi, an Olympic Silver Medalist and champion of both the 2014 Boston Marathon and 2009 New York City Marathon.
Keflezighi, who is sponsored by Krave Jerky of Sonoma, will be the guest speaker at the race expo and race dinner, and will also lead the race on an ElliptiGO bike, next to running legend Mary Decker Slaney, who will lead the female runners.
The elite field is also highlighted by Ryan Hall, the American Half Marathon course record holder (59 minutes, 43 seconds), who was also a United States Olympian in the marathon in the 2008 and 2012 games. He will be running in his first Wine Country Half Marathon.
Defending champion Tesfaye Alemayehu, who holds the Napa-to-Sonoma course record of 1 hour, 2 minutes, 38 seconds, will be seeking his fifth Napa-to-Sonoma title.
Also competing in the 13.1-mile race are Sergio Reyes, winner of the 2014 Flying Pig Marathon and 2014 Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon, along with Ben Bruce and Craig Leon, who finished 13th and 27th, respectively, in the USA Half Marathon Championships earlier this year.
Leading the women’s elite Wine Country Half Marathon field is two-time USA 5,000-meter champion, Lauren Fleshman, who is also a regular columnist to “The Fast Life” in Runners World magazine and Runnersworld.com.
Fleshman, who will be a guest speaker at the race expo, is making her half-marathon debut at Napa-to-Sonoma against former Stanford teammate Sara Hall, who broke the course record (1:14:33) in her first half marathon at the 2013 Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon.
Also heading the Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon women’s field are Laurie Knowles, Jane Kibii and Rowan Torckler.
Returning alongside the half marathon is the sold-out GunBun FunRun – presented by Parkpoint Health Club – a 5K race that starts at Gundlach Bundschu Winery and also ends in the Sonoma Plaza.
When the half-marathon race route enters the Valley, there will be traffic detours at Burndale Road, Denmark and MacArthur streets, and Broadway.
Following the running events will be the popular Wine and Music Festival in the Plaza from 9:30 a.m. until noon, with 28 local wineries, along with Lagunitas Brewing, on hand to pour, while the band, T-Luke & the Tight Suits, will play zydeco/funk.