CHIA, ITALY (28-Aug) -- Italian Olympians Daniele Meucci and Valeria Straneo were clear winners at the second annual Chia Laguna Half-Marathon here today, both setting course records on the hilly and twisting route along the southern coast of Sardinia. Meucci, 27 from Pisa, ran 1:07:45 and Straneo, 37, from Alessandria, clocked 1:13:50 and finished fifth overall. Straneo's time was particularly good given the difficulty of the course and the strong winds which buffeted runners in the second half.
"That's the hardest race I've ever run of any distance," said American Megan Nedlo who finished third in the women's race in 1:21:02 after walking four times.
Meucci had company from five men in the early kilometers of the race which provided sweeping views of the rocky coast. Meucci, with compatriots Migidio Bourifa, Ruggero Pertile, and Giovanni Ruggiero, were joined by Uganda's Wilson Busienei through the first three kilometers in 9:47 and 5-K in 16:09. Bourifa and Pertile soon sprinted ahead because they were competing in the less competitive companion "10-K" (Pertile won), leaving Meucci with Ruggiero and Busienei to compete for victory in the half. Meucci was trying to conserve energy in the first eight kilometers which has most of the course's hills.
"It's hilly, very hilly," he told Race Results Weekly.
The trio went through 10-K in 32:50, and in the 14th kilometer Ruggiero fell off the pace. Meucci hit 15-K with Busienei in 49:18, then decided to make his bid for victory. Despite strong headwinds, he ran the 17th kilometer in 2:55, the 18th in 2:58 and the 19th in 2:49 to put the race away.
"The last 5-K I plan to finish fast," Meucci said in English. "I was trying to finish fast."
Meucci, who was recently second at the NYC Half in March, cruised the final 2.1 kilometers and crossed the finish line in front of the Chia Laguna Resort to rousing cheers from the crowd. Busienei came home second in 1:08:54, and Ruggiero got third in 1:10:18.
Straneo, the Italian marathon record holder with a 2:23:44 personal best, led the women's contest from gun to tape, and ran most of the race alone, even without the company of men. Her time broke Roberta Ferru's course record from last year by over 10 minutes.
"I'm happy," Straneo told Race Results Weekly in English. "I had a goog sensation today. The race is really hard, and there was a lot of wind."
When asked if she was pleased with her time --seven seconds faster than what she ran at the NYC Half last month-- she answered quickly: "Yes, I think so. I hoped to do 1:15. I was so happy when I saw 1:13. I am very happy."
The half-marathon had 795 finishers, up from 536 last year, while the accompanying "10-K" (which was actually 10.7 kilometers long) had 312 finishers. In all, about 1900 athletes took part, including the participants in the non-competitive 10-K and 5-K events which were not timed.
Top Results (gun times):
1. Daniele Meucci, C.S. Esercito/Diadora, 1:07:45 CR
2. Wilson Busienei, UGA, 1:08:54
3. Giovanni Ruggiero, G.S. Forestale, 1:10:18
1. Valeria Straneo, Runner Team 99 SBV/Nike, 1:13:50 CR
2. Silvia Kibiego, KEN, 1:17:47
3. Meagan Nedlo, USA, 1:21:02
PHOTO: Danielle Meucci just after winning the 2013 Chia Laguna Half-Marathon in a course record 1:07:45 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
PHOTO: Valeria Straneo is congratulated by Italian comic actor Giovanni Cinelli after winning the 2013 Chia Laguna Half-Marathon in a course record 1:13:50 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)