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Originally published June 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM | Page modified June 23, 2012 at 10:13 PM

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It's a home run at Rock 'N' Roll Seattle Marathon

For the first time in the event's four years, two locals took first in the men's and women's races during the Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon on Saturday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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For the first time in the event's four years, two locals took first in the men's and women's races during the Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon on Saturday.

Lynnwood's Teshome Kokebe led all 26.2 miles through the streets of Seattle and finished in a net time of 2:31:47. He got off to a fast start, pacing with a few of his Club Northwest teammates who were running the half-marathon.

Kokebe, who moved to the United States nearly two years ago from Ethiopia, said he knocked out the first half of the marathon in 1:11:00. But the second leg was rough.

"For something like this tough course, you need good endurance and I didn't have good endurance today," Kokebe said.

It was his fifth race in just over two months. Kokebe was runner-up in the Eugene Marathon in April. He said he also participated in an 8K and two 5K races in Seattle, which left him winded during the second half of his marathon Saturday.

"I was thinking that someone would catch up to me and we'd run together, but I didn't see anybody," Kokebe said. "So I kept going."

Runner-up Cheyne Inman was right behind Kokebe on mile 15 as they made their way onto the I-90 bridge. The Vacaville, Calif., native hoped to pick up his pace around mile 16 and 17, but his legs weren't there. He ran the majority of the race by himself and finished in 2:34:41.

"It was just lonely out there the whole time and it just started to get to me at the end," Inman said.

Redmond's Sheila Croft defended her women's marathon title in 2:41:38, beating her personal best of 2:48:17 she set this year at the Boston Marathon. She's now won two marathons, both at Rock 'n' Roll Seattle.

Croft enjoyed the new course, which started and ended at Seattle Center. The route was more flat this year and offered scenic views of Lake Washington through the majority of the race. With the marathon runners using the same course as half-marathoners for at least 12 miles, Croft said the cheers from half-marathon runners motivated her.

Coupled with what she described as perfect running weather, Croft said all those factors contributed to pace.

"I was just pushing hard to maybe go under 2:40," Croft said. "I just kept focus and not worry about who's in front of me and who's behind me."

Even if she did look around, there would not have been a female runner in sight. Nuta Olaru from Romania placed second at 2:53.25. The 2004 Summer Olympics marathoner felt pain in her legs and stopped after 20 miles. Olaru said she contemplated giving up but continued after a short rest. She felt tired from last week's 13th-place finish at the USA Half Marathon Championships.

"I didn't expect someone to run so fast," Olaru said. "I thought about catching her, but my body is not so good."

In the half-marathon, Robert Scribner from Rochester Hills, Mich., won in 1:05:57. He jumped ahead of the pack and never relinquished his lead to runner-up Will Christian. The Annapolis, Md., native posted a 1:08:34 time.

On the women's side, Kelly Calway from Manitou Springs, Colo., beat Erin Richard in the closest finish of the day. Calway crossed the line in 1:18:16. Richard, from Rochester, Mich., finished in 1:19:44.

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