The city of Raleigh, North Carolina put out the red carpet for thousands of runners at Sunday’s Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon & ½ Marathon with featured charity ALS Association North Carolina Chapter. The annual race routes participants through the most scenic parts of North Carolina’s “City of Oaks.”

Nicole Esplin of West End, North Carolina prevailed in the 13.1-mile half marathon, blazing an average of six minutes and sixteen seconds per mile to finish first in 1:21:55. Her nearest rival was Raleigh’s own Tereza Novotna, who came across the finish line in 1:23:28. Third place was awarded to 25-year-old Holly Clarke, who ran 1:23:59.

Esplin, who originally lived in Raleigh, said her win was incredibly exciting. “It was the first big race that I have won,” she said. “The course is my favorite course in the area. It’s beautiful. You get to run downtown for this race. It’s definitely a hilly course and I’m very happy for anyone who finished it today. The weather here was perfect. You couldn’t ask for anything better.” Esplin said she started training for the half marathon in January and at the beginning of Sunday’s race, she was surprised to find herself in the lead. “I kept expecting someone to come up behind me,” she admitted.

The men’s half marathon was a closer affair with 36-year-old Edwin Kibowen of Kenya breaking the tape in 1:10:01 (an average of 5:21 miles) and a mere 21 seconds later came second-place finisher Brett Morley in 1:10:22. The last podium spot went to third-place finisher Andris Goncarovs (1:13:22). “It felt great. The course was nice,” said Kibowen, who admitted that he had never raced in the United States. It was fantastic. It was a dream for me to race in the United States. Kibowen discovered the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon after an internet search. “I’ve always heard of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series races. They are famous,” he said.

In the marathon event, Estuardo Novales of Guatemala prevailed with repeat 6-minute miles in 2:36:58. Second and third place went to Jonathan McGinnis (2:41:10) and Ryan Parrish (2:42:08) respectively. “It’s an incredible feeling,” Novales said of his win. “It’s only my second win in America.” Novales attended NC State back in 2002 and 2003 and said he was familiar with parts of the Raleigh course. “I told myself today that I may take second or third, but wasn’t too sure I could actually win. But anything can happen with a 26.2-mile run. I’m very happy for my family. My wife, who is pregnant, could not come with me on this trip, but I thought about her today.”

Stephanie Knast of Philadelphia won the women’s race in 2:56:20. Second place went to Kimberly Stoveld 3:09:57, also from Philly. Third place was awarded to Sarah Getty (3:13:47). Knast said the race was a challenge. “My quads almost gave out, “said Knast, who set a personal best. “I thought I was going to pull out, but I pushed through.”

Elite results aside, Sunday’s race in Raleigh was an incredible party with good times all around. The alternative hit-band Cracker took to the stage at the Red Hat Amphitheater at the end of the race to give participants and their families something to dance to at the finish line festival.


2017 Race Results

Name, Age, Hometown, Time, Prize

 Men’s Marathon

  1. Estuardo Novales, 35, Guatemala, 2:36:58, $500
  2. Jonathan McGinnis, 28, Rock Hill, SC, 2:41:10
  3. Ryan Parrish, 38, Fulshear, TX, 2:42:08
  4. Christian Noergaard Niels, 33, Denmark, 2:43:55
  5. George Oliver, 23, Winston Salem, NC, 2:45:15


Women’s Marathon

  1. Stephanie Knast, 27, Philadelphia, PA, 2:56:20, $500
  2. Kimberly Stoveld, 28, Philadelphia, PA, 3:09:57
  3. Sarah Getty, 34, Maple Grove, MN, 3:13:47
  4. Maleah Pinyan, 28, Salisbury, NC, 3:18:10
  5. Emily Haggerty, 21, Sewell, NJ, 3:18:16


Men’s Half Marathon

  1. Edwin Kibowen, 36, Kenya, 1:10:01, $250
  2. Brett Morley, 24, Greenville, SC, 1:10:22
  3. Andris Goncarovs, 24, Greensboro, NC, 1:13:22
  4. Omer Abdulrahman, 29, Raleigh, NC, 1:13:55
  5. Logan Desouza, 25, Durham, NC, 1:18:13


Women’s Half Marathon

  1. Nicole Esplin, 24, West End, NC, 1:21:55, $250
  2. Tereza Novotna, 24, Raleigh, NC, 1:23:28
  3. Holly Clarke, 25, San Francisco, CA, 1:23:59
  4. Amelia Shea, 26, Charlotte, NC, 1:27:16
  5. Allison Mycek, 23, Raleigh, NC, 1:31:07