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An 18-Year-Old High School Graduate Won Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half

Well that's one way to kick off your college running career.

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Tibebu “Tibs” Proctor is 18 years old, graduated from high school this year…and just won the Alaska Airlines Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon.

“It was good,” said Proctor, who finished the 13.1-mile course in a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 4 seconds. “I really liked the course. It was beautiful. This is great weather to run in. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

A standout distance runner at The Northwest School in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Proctor won a state championship at the Class 1A cross country meet in the fall. In a few months, he will continue his running career at the University of Washington. 

With his future home and Alaska Airlines Husky Stadium as the backdrop for the start of this year’s race, it was the perfect setting for Proctor to put together another outstanding performance. 

“It will be my future stadium, since I’ll be running there next year, so it was good,” said Proctor, who had only run his third half marathon. “This half marathon helps prepare me for that, so I’m excited for the future.” 

In true XC fashion, the young standout used the downhills to ward off his competitors. “They were with me the first four or five miles and then there was a downhill,” said Proctor, whose mother and brother found several opportunities to form a cheering section. “I kept pushing downhill, because when you do this kind of a race, if you know how to run downhill, that will win you the race. If you push downhill, you’re not going to get tired, because your body is pushing you forward.” 

When asked what he thought of this year’s new course, Proctor said, “I ran this last year, too, and I think (the new course) from here to there is much better.”  

On the women’s side, after hitting a winning time of 1:17:28 in the women’s half marathon, Jennifer Bergman said the Seattle course was the hilliest she’s competed in. It provided a nice challenge for the 25-year-old. “I’ve never run a course that was that hilly the whole time—you’re either going a little bit down or a little bit up,” she said. “It was different, but it was fun, though. I just focused on the water. You’ll be there soon. The water is peaceful, running is not.”

Bergman said it helped to have second-place finisher Heather Tanner pushing her late in the race. “She pushed me,” Bergman said. “She went for it.”

Shelby Mills decided to run her first marathon on her 23rd birthday. It was a good decision. Not only did the former runner at Gonzaga who lives in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood finish with a strong time (2:45:38), she won the race.  “It’s my first one,” she said with a laugh. “I ran in college, so I just graduated in 2016. I’ve been running a lot and I figured, before I put my mileage back down I’d do a marathon while I was still up there.”

Sophia Liu (2:50:38) finished second, while Oiselle’s Devon Yanko (2:55:52) was third. Check out the crowds and smiles from the race along the course (credit: Kevin Morris):