Courtesy of Anna Bretan.
Anna Bretan ’06 started running marathons two years ago on a whim.
The former Dons cross country standout has now won four of the five marathons she’s competed in and set three records along the way. In June, she won the toughest so far, the San Francisco Marathon, beating the all-time women’s record with a 2:42:26 run. That was 10 minutes faster than her closest female competitor, and trumped the old record by more than a minute.
“I surprised myself,” said Bretan, a mother of three and a delivery nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco’s Mission District. “At one point, I looked at my watch and saw that I was on pace to beat the record; but as a marathoner, you’re always worried about hitting a wall in the last three miles.”
She had an advantage. “I knew every incline and turn and hole in the road,” she says. Bretan trained all over San Francisco when she ran for the Dons’ cross country team, and especially loved running in Golden Gate Park.
Her first marathon was also her first win and first course record: the Oakland Marathon in 2011. A year later, and only six months after her daughter was born, she won the Oakland Marathon a second time. She also won the Modesto Marathon, setting a course record earlier this year. Now, Bretan is tackling a new challenge: long distance off-road racing. In September, she entered the Berkeley Trail Adventure 35K in Tilden Park and finished in first place with a time of 2:48:46. That’s first overall, beating even the top male runners.
“It was definitely a race where I had to work hard and push myself in ways I haven't had to in other races,” Bretan said. “But I loved everything about it, the challenge, the beautiful landscape, the endless hill climbs.”
Bretan lives in Berkeley with her husband, fellow nursing alumnus John Mullen ’06.