After a long journey just to get in position for his first marathon win, the final 100 meters were a piece of cake for Bruno Fiore.
The 41-year-old Fiore stayed on the heels of pacesetter Ed Conrad for the second half of the Dean Karnazes Silicon Valley Marathon on Sunday before using his long stride to sprint to a win down the stretch, edging Conrad by four seconds.
It was by far the best career finish for Fiore, a police chief in Monaco who is on vacation with his family.
"(Conrad) ran in front of me the whole time and had a good rhythm, so I just stayed behind because I was not strong enough to overtake him before," Fiore said. "I used my chance at the very end and was able to pass him."
The course started in downtown San Jose and about 900 competitors followed it to Los Gatos, where after a brief wrong turn by Fiore and a bathroom break for Conrad, the duo were able to break free from the rest of the pack.
Conrad, 26, from Bolinas, stayed in front throughout and led Fiore by 10 yards as they approached Discovery Meadow, but the 6-foot-2 Fiore burst past the 5-7 Conrad with 75 yards to go.
"For the last 10 miles, I could hear him breathing right behind me. He was just right on my tail, biding his time," Conrad said. "We both picked it up significantly at the end, but he was faster, and he just outkicked me. I was going the fastest I could go, but he just had more."
Fiore finished in 2 hours, 41 minutes, 43 seconds, and Conrad crossed the line in 2:41:47, almost eight minutes ahead of the next closest competitor. Rudy Montoya (2:49:07), Scott Stover (2:49:28) and Antony Nispel (2:50:17) rounded out the top five.
The women’s race wasn’t nearly as dramatic. San Luis Obispo teacher Suzanne Wetzel won in 3:14:50, well ahead of San Jose’s Susan Armenta (3:19:34) and Santa Clara’s Johanna Ylanen (3:19:44).
The race was a family affair for Wetzel, 29. She ran briefly with fiance Trevor Forzetting, who finished 13th in the men’s race.
"My mom and dad are here, and (Trevor and I) ran together for like a mile, so it’s perfect for us," Wetzel said. "I moved into first at about Mile 18, and then for the rest of the race I was out in front."
Santa Clara’s Lenin Zapata set a blistering pace to take the half-marathon in 1:10:58, well ahead of Neville Davey (1:15:15) and Aaron Jacobsen (1:17:25).
Michelle Meyer, 22, of Carmel, finished in 1:28:58 to edge Carina Hendricks (1:29:30) in the women’s half-marathon.
Brian Davis (17:47) and Christina Hosenfeld (19:46) won the 5-kilometer races.
Although several recent marathons have been marred by deaths, race director J.T. Service said race organizers hadn’t dealt with anything out of the ordinary.
"Everything was pretty normal. The weather was perfect, and the course looked great," Service said.