By Dickson Mercer
Washington, DC
May 15, 2011
For the Washington Running Report

Name a local road race and Wilson Komen has probably won it. In 2005 and 2006, not long after the Eldoret, Kenya native moved to Washington, DC, the now 33-year-old runner more or less ruled the local roads. After winning the Capitol Hill Classic, though, Komen admitted that today’s race was his first taste of victory in quite some time.

“I just wanted to get a race in and see how I could do,” Komen said shortly before the awards ceremony. “I’m happy with it. It’s been awhile since I won a race.”

Komen won the Capitol Hill Classic, a challenging 10K race that starts and finishes at Stanton Park, at 5th and C streets in northeast Washington, DC, on a sunny, slightly humid morning in 32:24. Garrett Ash, 27 from Connecticut took second in 33:29. He then cruised to victory in the 3K, held about two hours after the 10K in 10:14.

This year’s Capitol Hill Classic, which offers a 10K, 3K, and fun run on historic Capitol Hill, had about 3,000 participants who traveled to the event from more than 20 states.

Kumsa Eticha, 27, of Washington, DC took third in 33:49, a day after placing second in the We’ve Got Your Back 5K in Reston, VA.

Local ace Maggie Infeld, 25, of Washington, DC was the top female, running 36:37 to hold off Alexandria, VA’s Lisa Thomas, 35, by 29 seconds. Kristi Markowicz, 41, of Arlington, VA took third in 38:24.

Top finishers received prize money of $200, $150, and $100, respectively. The top male masters finisher was DC resident Rodney Loeppky, running 35:51to place fifth overall. Markowicz was the top female masters finisher in matching her time that earned her second place in the Winter Runner Rankings.

Although Komen is losing track of the exact number, the Georgetown Running Company employee and Reebok-sponsored runner guesses he has run at least 30 marathons. In peak form, he ran 2:18:26, good for 14th place at the 2006 Boston Marathon. That same year, he placed third at the hilly Under Armour Baltimore Marathon in 2:17:06. More recently, Komen, who has dealt with hamstring problems in recent years, took third at the SunTrust National Marathon in 2:31:00.

“I’m going to pick it up now, just see what I can I do,” Komen said.

Sheika Brown, 29, of Frederick, MD finished 391st out of almost 1,000 female finishers in 58:29. She ran the Frederick Half Marathon on May 7 but said she had always wanted to run the Capitol Hill Classic.

Steve Coles, on the other hand, had run the race before. In 2000 the 53-year-old Frederick resident said he took up running as an incentive to quit smoking cigarettes. Eleven years later, Coles said he no longer smokes, and mixes the Capitol Hill Classic in with two marathons and several 10Ks he races every year. The course, he said, passes by the DC native’s former rival high school, Eastern Senior.

The Capitol Hill Classic was founded 32 years ago. Proceeds from the nonprofit race benefit Capitol Hill Cluster, a public school with three campuses: the Peabody Early Childhood Center, Watkins Elementary, and Stuart-Hobson Middle School.

Traditionally the race has started at 8:30 a.m., race director Don Montuori said. Due to events related to National Police Week, this year’s race started an hour earlier so Independence Avenue would not be blocked to traffic after 9:00 a.m. Also, to stay clear of Independence Avenue, the 3K course was rerouted on race day (and measured at 2 miles by the police patrol car).

After directing the race for his sixth year, Montouri, a runner and Capitol Hill resident, said the cost for putting on the Capitol Hill Classic has been on the rise since 2002. Combined fees to Metropolitan Police and the city have quadrupled since then to about $33,000, which used to be roughly equivalent to the amount that the race would raise for Capitol Hill Cluster.

“It’s a question for the PTA next year to decide whether we can afford to have it,” Montouri said.

The course, which takes runners along Massachusetts Avenue, around Lincoln Park and down to East Capitol Street before sending runners back for a loop around the U.S. Capitol, has not changed much since the event was founded, Montouri said. Race volunteer Mike Soderman called it a “runner’s course.” Komen, who ran the last four miles alone, described it as a “little challenging.”

The course record for men is 30:38, set by Gurmessa Kumsa in 2006. The women’s course record is 35:27, run by Heather Hanscom in 2002.

Afterward, an awards ceremony was held in Stanton Park. In front of the statue of American Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, mats were laid out in the grass and many runners cooled down with a yoga session.

It would be a shame to lose this longest-running 10K race in the District of Columbia. This one has grown very nicely, and has become more than just a neighborhood event, attracting runners from all over the region as well as 27 different states. As typical of races today, this one included a wide range of ages from toddler to octogenarians; the sexes tip back and forth for majority participation, with women today holding the edge.

 

                               Awards Listing
                    Age Group Awards Based on Net Times
MALE 
Place Name                    Ag City                  Time    
===== ======================= == ===================== ======= 
    1 Wilson Komen            33 Washington DC           32:24 
    2 Garrett Ash             27 Manchester CT           33:29 
    3 Kumsa Ethicha           27 Washington DC           33:49 
FEMALE 
Place Name                    Ag City                  Time    
===== ======================= == ===================== ======= 
    1 Maggie Infeld           25 Washington DC           36:37 
    2 Lisa Thomas             35 Alexandria VA           37:06 
    3 Kristi Markowicz        41 Arlington VA            38:24 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 1 - 9
    1 Ava Cavanaugh            8 Washington DC           51:30 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 10 - 14
    1 Jackson Todd            12 Washington DC           48:47 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 10 - 14
    1 Taylor Knibb            13 Washington DC           47:08 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 15 - 19
    1 Thomas Smyth            18 Washington DC           40:03 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 15 - 19
    1 Margaret Haley          18 Usaf Academy CO         45:02 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 20 - 24
    1 Alexander Wepsala       23 Washington DC           39:01 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 20 - 24
    1 Anna Novick             22 Hayama Machi            39:19 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 25 - 29
    1 Matt Shechtman          26 Atlanta GA              36:11 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 25 - 29
    1 Susan Hendrick          25 Washington DC           38:45 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 30 - 34
    1 Daniel Yi               30 Alexandria VA           36:39 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 30 - 34
    1 Laura Ramos             32 Silver Spring MD        40:59 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 35 - 39
    1 Andrew Lipscomb         36 Alexandria VA           36:43

Photo below: Arrington Peterson (#2205) and Mary Robison (#2439), both 12, hold hands to finish the 2-mile race in 16:35.