Running long distance
A jubilant runner sets out Sunday as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon begins near Balboa Park. Photo credit: Ryan Ward Bethke/RWB Multimedia)

Runners with local connections won the men’s and women’s marathons Sunday as competitors wended their way through city streets for the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and half-marathon.

Runners – 22,000 registered for the event – set out on a path from Balboa Park that moved throughout Mid-City neighborhoods before heading to Mission Bay and back toward the downtown finish near Waterfront Park.

Kellen Blumberg won the men’s marathon in 2:28:19, while Bonnie Axman won on the women’s side in a time of 2:48:38.

“My parents did this race 15 years ago and I always wanted to come back and do it myself,” Blumberg said. “This is my first time running Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego and I’m glad I got the win.”

Axman has placed among the top finishers in other Southern California races, including a win at the Long Beach Marathon last year. According to, she also won the Newport Beach Orange County Marathon two years in a row, 2014-15 and finished second in the Carlsbad Marathon in 2016.

In the men’s marathon, Ryo Furukawa (Los Angeles) was second with a time of 2:28:56 and Benjamin Freeman (New York City) followed, finishing in 2:36:10.

In the women’s marathon, Katya Olivares (Zapopan, Mexico) came in second with a time of 3:00:32 and Ali Tebbs of Coronado took third in 3:08:10.

In the half marathon, San Diegans finished in the two top men’s spots.

Reid Buchanan won, in a time of 1:04:01. Wan Won was second with a time of 1:04:57 and Rene Ortiz (Rio Verde, Mexico) followed in 1:05:02. 

In the women’s half marathon, Jane Bareikis (Crestwood, Ill.) was the winner with a final time of 1:14:48, with Nina Zarina (Arlington, Va.) finishing in second with a time of 1:15:56, and Valerie Sanchez of Los Angeles coming in third in 1:17:14.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon returned to its traditional June race date this weekend, just seven months after the 2021 event, which was rescheduled due to the pandemic.

Already looking forward to next year? Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon weekend is set for June 3-4, 2023.