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Grad student surprises in marathon win

Stanford astrophysics student Keith Bechtol won this year’s San Francisco Marathon on Sunday with a time of 2:23:28.

Bechtol has been running for 11 years, and after taking a three-year break from the sport’s competitive side as an undergraduate student at William and Mary, he hoped to use the marathon to see where he stood.

Bechtol would eventually stand at the finish line almost two minutes before the arrival of the next competitor, Michael Wardian from Arlington, VA., even though the 25-year-old had to balance his training with a NASA satellite project.

After preparing for only six weeks, Bechtol knew he could run at a six-minute mile pace, enough to give him a shot at doing well.

“I knew that 5:30 pace per mile would have been competitive in previous years of the San Francisco Marathon,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Daily, “So I wasn’t afraid to go out with the leaders and use their experience to my advantage.”

“I went into the day without any particular goal time in mind, but instead with a sense for how my body should feel at different stages in the race,” he added.

About Joseph Beyda

Joseph Beyda is the editor in chief of The Stanford Daily. Previously he has worked as the executive editor, webmaster, football editor, a sports desk editor, the paper's summer managing editor and a beat reporter for football, baseball and women's soccer. He co-authored The Daily's recent football book, "Rags to Roses," and covered the soccer team's national title run for the New York Times. Joseph is a senior from Cupertino, Calif. majoring in Electrical Engineering. To contact him, please email jbeyda "at"