If David Sullivan meets someone and tells them he’s a runner, they invariably ask him if he does marathons.
“To them it’s like nothing else exists,” he said. “But I get it.”
Not so for Sullivan and the members of his Athletics East Track Club who will race at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships this Saturday at Lehigh University.
Of the 16 masters runners who will compete for the club’s teams, 14 are D.C.-area locals, and Sullivan, of Kingstowne, hopes to keep giving runners over 40 a life beyond the marathon grind.
He found West Springfield resident Bob Briggs at Burke Lake one weekend earlier this year, during the club’s weekly Saturday run.
“David came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you look like a pretty fast old guy – want to run with us?'” Briggs said. Briggs is 62 and shooting for a sub-3 at the Houston Marathon in January. Soon enough, Briggs became a member of Athletics East, which Sullivan managed and coached while living in his native Boston, then revived in 2018.
Loudoun Valley’s boys and girls team finished 10th at Nike Cross Nationals Dec. 7 in Portland, Ore. West Springfield’s Sean Stuck finished 104th in 16:19.
Name: Randall Myers
Self-described age group: Masters > 40
Occupation: Emergency Medicine Physician
Why you run: I enjoy training for, preparing for and competing in races
Running is typically a choice for Susanna Sullivan. It’s been her sport since she was at George Mason High School and her hobby even longer.
But as the October sunset started to overtake her in Maine’s Acadia National Park, the darkness forced her close to her race pace, or else she was going to be in trouble. She had finished up a hard run on the hilly dirt roads she is so fond of and stopped to report back to her coach, George Buckheit.
“I was in a national park by myself and it was getting pitch-black,” she said. “I was planning to walk back to my car when I was done, but I just had to run harder than I had for the workout.”
Light was fading fast, but by the time she was safely back to the car, she welcomed back a sensation she hadn’t felt in years. And she certainly hadn’t felt it in the six weeks she had been running on land consistently.
“I felt amazing,” she said. “For the first time I felt like I was really on the right track.”
Sam Affolder was hurting in the third mile of Nike Cross Nationals last December.
After leading Loudoun Valley throughout the year in defense of its 2017 first-ever national title, things were looking grim for the senior. Most runners behind him saw him as a target to pass, but Carlos Shultz saw him and knew that’s where he needed to be.
“I saw Sam up there, and I knew if he was falling off, I couldn’t be ‘back there,'” he said.
- The lottery for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile is open through 11:59 p.m. Dec. 12.
- UnderArmour will hold a free running clinic 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Dec. 8 at the University of Maryland. See more information here.
- Danielle Siebert, associate head coach of the University of Maryland track and cross country team, has been named event manager for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team.
- The Army Ten-Miler has an open personnel listing for a program manager in operations. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 10.
Prince George’s County Parks is seeking volunteers to help with trail maintenance at Patuxent River Park- Jug Bay Natural Area the following days from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Dec. 14, Jan. 11, Feb. 8, March 14, April 11. Contact [email protected] for more information.
Name: Robyn Kenul
Self-described age group: I’m 32 years old
Occupation: Registered Dietitian
Why you run: I started running as a way to stay in shape, and I keep running because I enjoy working towards a goal. There are always limits to surpass and more PRs to set which makes running extremely rewarding.
When did you get started running: I dabbled with running back in 2013. My sister was a runner at the time and got me into it. I ran a few miles here and there and joined her at our local turkey trot race. I had the idea that running a marathon sounded much more cool so I decided to train for and run my first marathon back in 2015. That’s where my love for distance running began.
I’ll add results to various D.C.-area turkey trots as I come across them. We also have some photos from Alexandria.
Maybe if he had gotten out of his own head earlier, all those races on the track would have been more fun for D.C.’s Nick Golebiowski.
Or maybe the oval, or the grass for that matter, was never the place for him. Either way, at 24, he knows what it can take others years to figure out — he’s a marathoner. If the love of the training hadn’t been clear enough, he got objective feedback when he ran his first marathon in 2:18:39 two weeks ago at Indianapolis’ Monumental Marathon, qualifying him for the Olympic Marathon Trials.
Learning from the injuries and inconsistency that plagued his early years at Georgetown culminated in the mental breakthrough that he punctuated with a Big East championship in the 10,000 meters his senior year. He continued his career in grad school at the University of North Carolina, but immediately moved to the roads after he didn’t make the first round of the NCAA Championships.
“Not making regionals opened up the possibilities of the roads,” Golebiowski said. “If I had advanced, maybe I would have tried to run faster on the track.”
Outside of mammoth races like the Army Ten-Miler, Marine Corps Marathon and the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, Thanksgiving is the busiest day of road racing in the D.C. area. Last years, 13 turkey trots totaled 21,214 finishers just in their timed divisions, to say nothing about fun runs, walks and tot trots, many of which these events sport.
This year at least 16 races will kick off around the D.C. area, with another one following a few days later.
Run hard, run for fun, wear a turkey costume, wear a pie costume if you can find one…whatever does it for you, the options are out there in D.C., Virginia and Maryland.
Note that the Virginia Run Turkey Trot and the Turkey Trot for Parkinsons in Lorton have both taken hiatuses. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done for good – the Cheverly Trot is making a comeback this year.