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Originally published June 26, 2010 at 5:20 PM | Page modified June 26, 2010 at 6:58 PM

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Kenyan wins Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

Jynocel Basweti wins the men's marathon, while Sopagna Eap of Eugene, Ore., wins the women's marathon.

Special to The Seattle Times

Jynocel Basweti almost took the weekend off.

Instead, the Kenyan native chose to enter the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon at nearly the last minute, and in cool, cloudy conditions Saturday morning broke away from a front-running, all-Africa foursome at the 21st mile to claim the lead and eventually top honors in Seattle's second-annual mashup of music and endurance.

Sopagna Eap of Eugene, Ore., took first place in the women's marathon, all part of an event (marathon and half-marathon) that attracted more than 27,000 runners, 45 musical acts, dozens of cheerleading squads and hundreds of volunteers.

None was swifter than the 23-year-old Basweti, a member of the AmeriKenyan Running Club who trains in Santa Fe, N.M. His current high-mileage training regimen initially dissuaded him from running in Seattle.

"I decided on Wednesday that I was coming," he said.

The winning time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 19 seconds gave Basweti his fourth marathon victory in 2010 (two in Georgia, one in Mississippi) and his fifth win in his last six marathons.

Following a 7 a.m. start in Tukwila, Basweti, fellow Kenyans Mark Chepses, 34, and David Cheruiyot, 29, and Ethiopian Kassahun Kabiso, 26, ran in a tight pack for the first 16 miles. Kabiso faded first. Cheruiyot dropped back before the 20-mile mark and Basweti shook Chepses a mile later as the pair emerged from the Battery St. tunnel.

"I had to make a move to see if I could drop these guys," said Basweti, who ran the 21st mile in 5 minutes, 9 seconds to pull away from Chepses. Chepses placed second at the Qwest Field finish line 32 seconds behind Basweti. Cheruiyot took third (2:21.58).

Notes

• The top American male was fifth-place finisher Jacob Puzey, 27, of Hermiston, Ore. (2:27.36). The top local finisher was Seattle's Jeremiah Mushen, a 33-year-old firefighter in Auburn and a former pro triathlete, who took sixth (2:34.16). Richard Williams, 23, of Yakima was seventh (2:35.51); Chris Charles, 33, of Seattle took ninth (2:39.48).

• Eap, 29, a past Olympic Trials participant, posted a time of 2:43.05 and outdistanced her nearest competitor, Kim Harding of Issaquah, by more than 13 minutes (2:56.43). Harding, 22, had not run competitively in her adult years until placing 13th in last November's Seattle Marathon.

"Today I stuck to my pace of 6:50 but did not think I'd be (in) the top five," she said. "This feels good."

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Nikki Gamble, 26, of Edmonds finished fifth (3:05.40). Paige Longdon, 34, of Bothell took eighth (3:14.05).

• Marine Capt. Robert Hillery, 29, ran the marathon carrying a large American flag to honor wounded Marines. It was Hillery's second Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (the series has 14 stops) this year. "There were some times on bridges when it was windy and I had to switch to the two-hand carry for a while. But what you lose in weight and drag you gain back in motivation."

Bob Dolphin of Renton, who ran a marathon on his 80th birthday last October, ran in his 470th career marathon (or ultramarathon) Saturday, finishing in 6:43:32. Carol Dellinger, 48, of Spokane ran her 240th marathon, her eighth since being diagnosed with breast cancer Oct. 9. She finished in 6:09:14.

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