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Posted: May 2, 2016:  

Athletics: Zach Bitter Wins, Maggie Yount Shatters Event Record at 5th San Luis Obispo Marathon

Joe Thorne sets Half-Marathon event record; Heather McWhirter women’s Half-Marathon champion; Endurance Town USA celebrates 5th anniversary edition in Central Coast-style

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.- (May 1, 2016) - On a sunny, beautiful Central Coast Sunday morning at the 5th San Luis Obispo Marathon presented by, Zach Bitter, 30, from Davis, Calif. and Maggie Yount, 32, San Mateo, Calif. were the overall male and female champions in 2:36:14 and 2:50:06, respectively. Yount, in her 26.2 mile debut, shattered the women’s event record by nearly 9 minutes.

Joe Thorne sets Half-Marathon event record; Heather McWhirter women’s Half-Marathon champion; Endurance Town USA celebrates 5th anniversary edition in Central Coast-style

"What an incredible weekend for running and health & fitness in Endurance Town USA: ideal weather, great competition, two event records and happy runners with their well-earned collectible 5th anniversary cowbell medals," said Samantha Pruitt, Race SLO Founder & CEO. "A big thank you to the runners, sponsors, vendors, spectators, Race SLO staff and city and county officials for making this year’s event so special!"

In the men’s 26.2 mile race, Bitter was the class of the field as he rattled off sub-6 minute miles over the challenging course for a 4 minute, 30 second victory over Bihama Vedaste of San Jose who was runner-up in 2:40:54. The 2012 inaugural Marathon and top Master Van McCarty, 45, of San Luis Obispo finished third, recording a 2:42:33.

"This is awesome! Loved the weather, loved the course. I used this race as a final tune-up before I run the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa in four weeks," said Bitter, a two-time USA ultra champion and world 12-hour record holder.

In the women’s Marathon, Yount, who entered as a non-elite, took the lead from the gun and averaged 6:29 miles to make a smashing debut. For her impressive 2:50:06, she took home $850 ($600 for the win and $250 for the event record). Carrie Arrieta, 49, of Moreno Valley, Calif. repeated as race runner-up and top Master (40 & older) in 3:19:52, while Shelby Lowe of San Luis Obispo took third in 3:24:25.

"My goal today was to break 3 hours and hit even mile splits so to run 2:50 in my debut and set a record is great," said Yount who finished 6th overall.

The Half Marathon races were also won in convincing fashion by Joe Thorne, for the men, clocking an event record 1:10:49, while Heather McWhirter, for the women, finished first in 1:22:57. Two San Luis Obispo residents Brandon Messerly, age 22, and Erin Tracht, age 35, finished runner-up in 1:14:48 and 1:27:55 respectively.

"What a great day to run. I felt good, felt strong on the course, and this is my first race in about a year due to injury," said Thorne, who took home $800 ($300 for win, $250 event record bonus and $250 past champion’s bonus). Thorne, 32, from nearby Grover Beach, also won the 2014 Half Marathon as well as the 2013 Marathon.

For McWhirter, 38, from Pacific Grove, Calif. this was her first serious race since finishing 97th at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles last February: "I ran pretty even, and the final hill was a challenge, I kinda laughed, but the long downhill finish was wonderful."

Also, on Sunday morning at the Awards Ceremony, local coach and teacher Sean Ricketts of Arroyo Grande and the late Dr. Paul Spangler, a senior Masters running pioneer and local legend, were inducted into the event’s Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, April 30, Family Fitness Day was held that included a 5K, shorter distances and fun activities for the children and their families. The community event benefitted Jack’s Helping Hand, a local non-profit providing assistance and programs to children with cancer and special needs.

More than 3,800 participated in the weekend festivities and the Marathon and Half Marathon, both sold-out with 420 and 2,310 entrants respectively. The 6th San Luis Obispo Marathon will be held April 29–30, 2017. Early Bird registration for the 2017 event is open until May 8 at The Marathon is $75 and the Half Marathon is $50, Early Bird.

5th San Luis Obispo Marathon presented by - San Luis Obispo, CA, Sunday, May 1, 2016

1) Zach Bitter, 30, Davis, CA, 2:36:14, $600
2) Bihama Vedaste, 26, San Jose, CA, 2:40:54, $300
3) Van McCarty, 45, San Luis Obispo, CA, 2:42:33, $150
1) Maggie Yount, 32, San Mateo, CA, 2:50:06*, $850#
2) Carrie Arrieta, 49, Moreno Valley, CA, 3:19:52, $300
3) Shelby Lowe, 26, San Luis Obispo, CA, 3:24:25, $150
*course record (previous record, Kimberly O’Donnell (CA), 2:59:02, 2015)
#includes $250 course record bonus

5th San Luis Obispo Half Marathon presented by

1) Joe Thorne, 32, Grover Beach, 1:10:49*, $800#
2) Brandon Messerly, 22, San Luis Obispo, CA, 1:14:48, $150
3) Juan Ricardo Jaquez, 29, Durango, MEX, 1:15:46, $75
*course record (previous record, 1:10:55, Ben Bruce (CA), 2015)
#includes $250 course record bonus and $250 as previous Half Marathon champion
1) Heather McWhirther, Pacific Grove, CA, 1:22:57, $300
2) Erin Tracht, 35, San Luis Obispo, CA, 1:27:55, $150
3) Gloria Nuno, 26, Santa Maria, CA, 1:28:03, $75

Complete race results can be found at:


Established in 2010 to bring world class sporting events to the beautiful California Central Coast, the Race SLO family of annual events includes the 5th SLO Marathon + Half and Family Fitness 5K (Spring 2016), SLO GranFondo cycling event (Fall 2016) and the inaugural SLO Ultra trail races at Wild Cherry Canyon (Fall 2016).

The Race SLO Team organizes and produces both fun and competitive running and cycling events that create a positive impact on both our participants and local communities.

Come experience the best the California Central Coast has to offer: year-round sunshine, rolling green hills, unspoiled open roads, first class finish lines and more. Come Race SLO: #EnduranceTownUSA!

Visit for more information.

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