Runners from the Seattle area won both the men’s and women’s marathons at the Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle Marathon on Sunday. And for the two top finishers, the race marked a first — the first marathon for Shelby Mills and the first marathon win for Blake Hilty.
Mills, a 23-year-old from Queen Anne, finished the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in 2 hours, 45 minutes, 38 seconds, which was five minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Sophia Liu, who won the marathon last year. On the men’s side, Hilty, who lives in Magnolia, ran the 26.2-mile race in 2:38:57, winning by more than two minutes.
Mills has been training about 100 miles a week, but before Sunday, she had never run a race longer than a 5K.
“This is my first marathon, so I was kind of clueless,” said Mills, who ran the race on her birthday. “I saw all the (half-marathon) runners. I thought, ‘Oh, keep up with them. Keep up with them.’ Then the split came, and I realized, ‘Oh, that’s why they were running fast.’ ”
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In college at Gonzaga, Mills ran the 5,000 meters and the 3,000-meter steeplechase. As a junior, she became the first Gonzaga runner to compete at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships, placing 21st in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Because she would usually find her groove toward the end of college races, Mills said she thought longer races would serve her well. She proved her theory right Sunday, winning a time just 38 seconds away from the 2020 Olympic Trials qualifying standard, which she would need accomplish within the qualifying window that begins in September.
“I told somebody, ‘Oh, I’ll just do a marathon and then don’t worry, I won’t run so much. I can be a normal person again,’ ” Mills said. “But now, I have a feeling (I will keep training for…