INDIANAPOLIS - Daniel Tapia (Prunedale, Calif.) has been named USA Track & Field's Athlete of the Week after winning the California International Marathon in Sacramento Sunday in 2:16:29.
Tapia faced extremely wet and windy conditions en route to his first marathon victory against an international field. He became the first American man to win the race since Joe LeMay in 1999.
"The conditions were as bad as it gets from the start to mile 13," Tapia said. "There was a headwind of anywhere from 20-30 miles an hour with gusts up to 30-40 mph. The rain was in our face pretty much all the way to mile 13, but after that it calmed down a little bit. As ridiculous as it sounds, I was hoping not to get my feet wet, but there was no way."
Tapia was able to outlast others as the lead pack dwindled to the top three runners. Over the final three miles, Tapia pulled away from Ethiopia's Tesfaye Alemayehu and Kenya's Christopher Kipyego to secure his place atop the podium.
"I couldn't believe it," Tapia said. "Even as I was getting close to the finish line and I was turning onto ninth street, I looked back and I couldn't believe that [Tesfaye] Alemayehu wasn't with me. To cross the finish line first was unbelievable; it was my first major marathon to win."
In addition to training, Tapia also works in his family's restaurant while attending law school. Tapia will take his last exam on Thursday.
Now in its 11th year, USATF's Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on www.usatf.org. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
2012 Winners: January 5, Landon Peacock; January 11, Kirubel Erassa; January 18, Shalane Flanagan; January 26, John Nunn; February 1, Gunnar Nixon; February 8, Jenn Suhr; February 14, Jillian-Camarena Williams; February 22, Brycen Spratling; February 28, Chaunte Lowe; March 7, Eric Broadbent; March 14, Ashton Eaton; March 21, Jeanne Daprano; March 27, Wallace Spearmon; April 3, Trevor Barron; April 9, Kevin Castille; April 18, Brittney Reese; April 25, Amy Sproston; May 2, Leo Manzano; May 9, Stephanie Brown-Trafton; May 16, Allyson Felix; May 23, Nick Hartle; May 30, Kimberlyn Duncan; June 6, Jessica Cosby and Meghan Vogel; June 13, Jesse Williams; June 20, Shelby Ashe; June 27, Ashton Eaton; July 4, Allyson Felix; July 12, Christian Cantwell; July 18, Gunnar Nixon; July 25 Evan Jager; August 1, Denzel Harper; August 15, Allyson Felix; August 23, Reese Hoffa; August 29, Carmelita Jeter; September 5, Matt Tegenkamp; September 12, Aries Merritt; September 19, Ben True; September 26, Willie Banks; October 3, Jan Holmquist; October 10, Dathan Ritzenhein; October 17, Alana Hadley; October 22, Sarah Baxter; October 31, Laura Hollander; November 7, Cody Moat; November 14, Neely Spence; November 21, Christy Cazzola; November 28, Galen Rupp; December 5, Daniel Tapia
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, the World's #1 Track & Field Team, the most-watched events at the Olympics, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport, and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States: USATF.org.