Local runners Blake Hilty and Shelby Mills cruise to wins in Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle Marathon

1 of 3 Blake Hilty, 35, from Magnolia, crosses the finish line nearly two minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.”I was pretty much by myself after mile six,”he said. (Kjell Redal/The Seattle Times)

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 more).”

While Mills said there was usually a male runner in the distance who she could chase, Hilty’s path to the win, he said, was a “very, very lonely” one. Throughout most of Sunday’s race, he ran by myself, thinking about songs or what he is doing next week.

“I was pretty much by myself after mile six,” Hilty said. “I’ve never been alone that long.”

Hilty, a 35-year-old attorney, ran as a St. Jude’s hero, meaning he raised at least $500 for the nonprofit Children’s Hospital and received a free race entry in exchange.

Hilty lives with his wife and 1-year-old daughter, so he usually wakes up to run around 4 a.m. He didn’t start running until college. But since then, he said he’s run about 16 marathons, and he is thinking about running more, including the Seattle Marathon in November. Still, thanks to where he finished, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon was unlike the ones he’s run in the past.

“About time I won one,” Hilty said.

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