Berkeley Half Marathon 2014-1 Photo William Newton
The start of the 2014 Berkeley Half Marathon. Photo William Newton

More than 5,700 people participated in the second annual Berkeley Half Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 9. It was described by at least one observer as a mellow affair with a positive Berkeley vibe, as residents came out to support the participants, shouting things like, “welcome to the neighborhood!” as the runners darted past.

The woman’s half marathon was won by Berkeley resident Anna Bretan, 29, with a time of 1:16:12. Bretan, who is a nurse and mother of three, also won the 2013 Berkeley Half Marathon, and the 2013 and 2014 San Francisco Marathon.

The men’s half marathon was won by J.P. Slater, 23, of Pasadena with a time of 1:08:39. Slater, who graduated from UC Berkeley in May where he ran for both the cross-country and track-and-field teams, also won the 2013 Berkeley Half Marathon.

Running pass Caffe Med on Telegraph Avenue. Photo: Ted Friedman

The event, which also included a 5K race, is organized by San Francisco-based Jumping Fences. It is produced in partnership with Cal Athletics and the Cal Alumni Student Association, and it raised $25,000 for its official race charities: the Berkeley Public Schools Fund and Cal Alumni Student Association.

Not everyone was thrilled with the impact on traffic caused by the marathon. One resident was caught in long lines of traffic several times on Sunday and said the staff directing vehicles did not have suggestions for alternative routes.  Many people faced unexpected delays.

Yuan Zhu pulled two people in a wagon the entire course of the marathon. Photo: William Newton

Medics responded to one medical emergency when a runner lost consciousness around the 10-mile mark, but that person was alert and transported to hospital, according to staff at a medical tent. At last year’s inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon, Kenneth Speirs, 49, a former UC Berkeley lecturer, suffered a heart attack and died a few weeks’ later in hospital.

Marathons are full of inspiring stories, and this one was no exception. Yuan Zhu pulled two people, one dressed in a bear suit, in a wagon through the entire course. Zhu said: “I was born crippled, I grew up obese, and I lived without hope for 23 years. But … I found inspiration and belief from others … Nowadays, I’ll do anything I can to inspire others, because I get my energy from community. I always remember what it was like to be unable to walk one mile, much less run 13. I serve my community, because my community has given me more than I ever dreamed of. So if you see me running around Berkeley or anywhere in the Bay Area, come along for the run. And if you’re too tired, you can hop in my wagon!”

Some humor along the route. Photo: Ted Friedman
An Aid Station on Shattuck Avenue at Rose Street. Photo: Neil Mishalov
Anna Bretan of Berkeley who won the 2014 Half Marathon women’s race, as well as the inaugural one last year. Photo: courtesy Berkeley Half Marathon
Participants on Shattuck Avenue and Vine Street, across the street from the Cheese Board, at approximately 9:30 a.m, four miles into the race. Photo: Neil Mishalov
A runner lost consciousness around the 10-mile mark, but was alert and transported to hospital, according to staff at a medical tent. Photo: Siciliana Trevino
J.P. Slater who won the Berkeley Half Marathon men’s race. Photo: courtesy Berkeley Half Marathon
Berkeley Half Marathon 2014. Photo Gina g10
The Cal Band and cheerleaders participated at the second annual Half Marathon. Photo: Ted Friedman
Half Marathon winners are congratulated by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (right). Photo: Ted Friedman
The Berkeley Half Marathon 2014 map: the run began in Civic Center Park, went up Telegraph Avenue and entered the UC Berkeley campus. It took a turn on Shattuck, went through the Gourmet Ghetto and into North Berkeley. Runners then ran through the Fourth Street neighborhood and down the Bay Trail. Runners then made their way back up to Civic Center Park where they crossed the finish line.

Neighbors hold silent vigil for Berkeley Marathon runner (12.16.13) 
Two Berkeley runners win city’s first half marathon race (11.24.13)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...