Tom Cooka was the only Rim Country runner to compete in P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, but the half-marathon drew 15 from Payson.
In all, the two events attracted about 32,000 entrants.
The lengthy runs were held Jan. 17 on Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale streets packed with bands belching out their finest tunes and fans yelling encouragement as runners huffed and puffed their way along the winding course.
The 79-year-old Cooka finished the 26.2-mile marathon in 5:48.49 and was fourth in his age group.
Cooka, a retired Santa Fe railroad employee from Winslow, competes in about every local running event as well as ones around the state and the nation.
At age 50, he was a member of the Northland Pioneer College track and field team.
He is a frequent competitor in the Senior National Olympics and once was a member of the Tonto Apache Track and Field team with fellow athletes 60-years younger than he.
Among those from Payson who entered the half-marathon, 51-year-old Chris Schur was the fastest and the only one to turn in a sub two-hour time.
He finished in 1:49.04 and was 121st among the 1,479 in his age division.
Carrie Colvin, a 29-year-old PHS alum and former Lady Longhorn track and field team member, was clocked in 2:03.42 and was 447th among the 2,355 in her division.
Amity Justice, 36, finished in 2:04.11.
Others who broke the three-hour barrier were Mike Foil (2:13.04), Rachelle Christian (2:13.43), Karen Howard (2:48.14) and Christie Varner (2:22.36).
In the full marathon race for elite runners, Terefe Yae won his second career Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona title.
Teyba Naser won the women’s title by breaking the course record, crossing the finish line in 2 hours, 30 minutes and 39 seconds.
The victorious Ethiopian pair continued their country’s dominance in the Arizona marathon. Ethiopians have won 10 of the 14 all-time Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona titles.
In the half-marathon for men, Simon Bairu set a course record of 1:04.08 while defeating U.S. half-marathon record holder Ryan Hall who was clocked in 1:04.08.
Deena Kaston, the U.S. marathon and half-marathon record holder, shattered the race record by more than five minutes with a time of 1:09.43.