SAN JOSE -- African immigrant Simon Bairu of Canada held off Palmdale's Sergio Reyes by 3 seconds Sunday to win the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon in 1 hour 3 minutes and 28 seconds.

Danville native Scott Bauhs was third in 1:04.29, followed by his Mammoth Lakes roommate Josphat Boit of Kenya in 1:04.51.

Clara Horowitz Peterson of San Anselmo won the women's division in 1:12.52, to easily finish ahead of Russia's Natalie Sokolova, who was second in 1:15.38.

Bairu, who grew up in Saskatchewan as a refugee from Saudi Arabia, said he felt in control for much of the 13.1-mile race held under perfect conditions in downtown San Jose.

"I wasn't sure if I had the win locked up until 9 miles when Sergio kind of staggered a little bit," said Bairu, a two-time NCAA cross-country champion for Wisconsin. "I knew if I could put in one hard move I could break him a little bit. It was harder than I thought it would be."

The Canadian who trains in Portland, Ore., as part of the Nike Project, made some early moves against his coach's advice.

"I got a little antsy early and wanted to test where everyone was at," he said.

Bairu, whose father is Eritrean and mother Ethiopian, will prepare for the prestigious New York City Marathon on Nov. 4. The top three finishers Sunday used California's fastest half marathon as a tune-up for New York.

Reyes left San Jose with perhaps the biggest smile after a late surge led to his personal best in the distance by an impressive 34 seconds.

"Sergio ran tough," Bauhs said. "He made the race today. He was changing the pace up early. He broke me early."

Horowitz Peterson, a five-time All-American at Duke, also tested the field right away like Bairu and Reyes.

"My coach told me not to take it out too fast but I got a little excited," she said. "I was nervous that I wouldn't find anybody to run with. Last year I ended up running the whole thing alone. So I took it out way too fast."

Tacoma's Allison Maxson, a former University of Portland runner, was third in 1:17.38. Castroville's Danny Tapia was fifth in the men's race, followed by Daniel Filipcik of Redwood City and East Bay teacher Tommy Greenless, formerly a runner for Michigan.

  • Race organizers signed a three-year contract extension with San Jose to bring the half marathon to the South Bay through 2015.

  • Former 49ers star Roger Craig finished the race in 1:51.35. Soccer star Brandi Chastain of San Jose also completed the half marathon.

    Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.