Kevin Pool of Folsom didn’t plan on winning Sunday’s 35th Annual Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon. He entered the 26.2-mile race through the scenic Napa Valley wine-growing region as a training run in preparation for April’s Boston Marathon.
Pool, 30, broke the finish line tape at Napa’s Vintage High School in 2 hours, 21 minutes, and 58 seconds, the seventh-fastest winning men’s time in the 35-year history of the event. The rural race route from Calistoga to Napa has not changed since the event’s inaugural running.
Pool, a veteran of nine previous marathons, notched his victory despite giving the other top men in the field an unintentional 40-second handicap. He was in the port-a-potty when the 7 a.m. starting gun sounded as Cheyne Inman (Vacaville, Calif.) assumed a solo early lead and held it until Pool and Frank Corrigan (Port Costa, Calif.) caught him near the 23-mile point.
By 24 miles, Pool moved into the lead and lengthened it to the finish line as both Corrigan (2nd, 2:22:47) and Inman (3rd, 2:25:38) both recorded personal bests.
“Part of the reason I ran here (in Napa) is because I think it has a similar downhill profile to Boston,” said Pool who was an NCAA Division III All-American at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny College and now serves as the Team Manager for the Sacramento Running Association Elite running club. “I wanted to get a little simulation to that because previously when I ran Boston my quads didn’t hold up on the downhills.”
In April, at Boston, Pool will aim to lower his marathon personal record of 2:19:22, which he recorded at the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon.
Known as “the Biggest Little Marathon in the West,” the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon rewards male and female open and masters winners with oversized bottles of wine etched with their championship accomplishments. The male and female winners of the race also receive their “weight-in-wine” donated by the Silverado Trail Wineries Association.
After receiving the crown as 2013 men’s champion, Kevin Pool commented “I’m engaged and getting married in July, so the wine will definitely help at the wedding.”