Track Heats Up at DCRRC Summer Championships
Race Report: DCRR Track Championships Mile and 3K
By Charlie Ban
Money itself doesn't make people run faster, but its lure has a way of drawing the swift out of the woodwork.
Following an anemic few years for the DC Road Runners summer track championships, the club offered cash prizes for record-breaking races in its headlined mile and came away with a new men's standard at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington on Wednesday night.
A drier and cooler summer evening and a robust promotional attempt caused the track to swell with competitors from not only the DC Road Runners, but also the Georgetown Running Company, Pacers Racing Team, Capital Area Runners, the Washington Running Club, and the Potomac Valley Track Club.
Alexandria's Sean Graham of the Pacers Racing Team, 32, continued a lucrative week with a $200 bonus for running 4:16.2, four days after he broke the tape at the Crystal City Twilighter. Injury setbacks in the spring eroded some of his confidence in going after Bert Rodriguez's 4:21 record, but his 61-second quarter ended the race against Joey Wiegner, 30, who trailed in 4:19.4.
"I came through the half right on pace, so I went for it," Graham said. "I was in better shape than I thought."
Women's mile winner Hanna Bartholomew, 29, had no such confidence.
"I didn't feel comfortable until I crossed the line," she said of her 4:57.0 race, a six-second margin over Susanna Sullivan, complete with a 71-second kick. She opened up a small lead with two laps to go, coming through in 2:30. She raced at a friend's suggestion while she was in town from her native Sweden to visit her mother-in-law in Woodbridge.
Though she later won the 3K in 10:12.3, Sullivan, 22, of Falls Church, was much happier with her 5:03.3 mile runner-up.
"I've run under five minutes in practice (for 1600), but this matched my best mile race," she said.
Her victory in the 3K was physically easy, if not mentally. She felt comfortable leading through two kilometers, but wanted to be sure of her place in the co-ed race before she made her move.
She ran an abbreviated spring track season at Notre Dame after recovering from a stress fracture in her foot.
Romain Mareuil benefited from the competitive field to set a five-second PR in 4:43.9. It followed a series of five straight mile PRs over the summer. He was one of a flood of Capital Area Runners, a crowd coach George Buckheit estimated at 50, including Sullivan.
"The local support was amazing," he said, noting that the team uses the Washington-Lee track for regular workouts.
Not every runner laced up spikes or tapered for the race. Michael White, 39, lives down the street in Arlington and came down to the track looking to put a few miles away. When he arrived and saw the free track meet, he thought it was as good a time as any to run his first track race.
"It was brutal," he said of his 5:33.3, run in board shorts he bought on sale. The banana patterns on his socks reflected his emotional state as he grappled with the physical consequences of going out fast and trying to hold on.
"I was swimming against the tide and people were passing me like flotsam and jetsam in a river," he said. "I kept pushing--every sinew, every muscle, every fiber, every gasping breath, I felt them all."
The breaths hurt a little more than he expected and his thirst remained unquenchable minutes after he crossed the line.
White resumed running after years of competitive bicycling and found running to be a lot more efficient of a workout.
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Charlie Ban competed for the University of Richmond and now trains with the Georgetown Running Company racing team and lives in Washington, DC. He chronicles his running at chaznasty.blogspot.com.