Waldon Adams was killed, along with Rhonda Whitaker, April 24, 2021 in a hit-and-run while the pair was walking in East Potomac Park near Hains Point.
This story was originally published in the April/May 2013 issue of RunWashington.
Waldon Adams’ body went numb while the words poured from the physician’s mouth. As he sat aghast on a gurney in the emergency room at the Howard University Hospital, each word uttered by the doctor drove the invisible dagger deeper into his rapidly-beating heart.
To him, it just was not fair. While he admitted to routinely using freebase cocaine – cocaine dissolved by heat to be purified before use – for nearly two decades, he adamantly denied ever injecting the drug intravenously. But he said he did have an idea of how he contracted the deadly virus.
This was not really happening. Surely, it must be a mistake. The only health obstacles Adams faced up until this point in his life were infrequent bouts with asthma. Now, he listened as a stranger gave him the somber news that would ultimately alter his life. Adams had tested positive for HIV.
“When I first received the diagnosis, I was really upset. I was really devastated,” said Adams, who recently celebrated his 52nd birthday. “I cried and was admitted to the psychiatric ward. When I was released from the ward three days later, the first thing I did was get high. I figured that I was going to die anyway.”
For a shelter dog, the chance to run is nothing short of bliss. For eight years, volunteers have been helping Washington Humane Society dogs make it happen. In 2008, Spike, one of many pit bulls entering shelters that year, caught the fancy of two employees, who decided to bring him along for a run. That was the start of the People and Animal Cardio Klub (PACK), which pairs local runners with dogs from area shelters. And each week, they meet for an hour of fun. The benefits, according to one of the club’s volunteers, are twofold.
“After a long week, no matter what has happened, Saturday mornings with a dog who really gets a lot out of it gives me a chance to re-calibrate and start the weekend off right,” said volunteer leader Heather Kelly, of Arlington. “I call Saturday mornings with PACK my reset button.”
Although more than 1,000 runners signed up for the seventh annual Love the Run You’re With 5k, bone-chilling temperatures shaved that number in half as a polar vortex ripped through the area over Valentine’s Day weekend.
But those who braved temperatures that barely peaked at 20 degrees were treated to another festive and exciting installment of the popular February race began at Arlington’s Pentagon Row and concluded at Champps, which also served as the race’s home base.
[button-red url=”http://www.zippyraceresults.com/searchrwt.php?ID=5572″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Kyle Wagener (15:55) snagged top race honors as he breezed through the 3.1-mile course. Wagener, a member of the Georgetown Running Club, recently moved to the Washington area after graduating from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., where he ran collegiately for the school, topping off 22 years of acclimation to winter temperature that might have given him an edge Sunday.
“Days like today aren’t the average Minnesota winter day, but we get a lot of weather like this so it definitely probably helped a little bit,” Wagener said. “I did a race in high school on New Year’s Day where it was 0 degrees. So this wasn’t the coldest race I’ve ever run.”
His familiarity with sub-zero temperatures propelled him over second-place finisher Stewart Reich (15:57) of Frederick, Maryland.
Laurel Le Moigne (18:41) of Springfield earned first-place honors among female runners, 13th overall. Le Moigne said she was originally scheduled to run the GW Parkway 10k Classic on Sunday, but race organizers cancelled that race because of the cold.
“I was just really motivated to race today because in my training plan I knew I had to,” Le Moigne, 30, said. “We were about a mile and a half in and I figured I was probably going to win so I was motivated by that. I also kept thinking about the Olympic Trials yesterday and while this was miserable weather on one hand, the runners out [in Los Angeles, California] were out there passing out during a marathon in 80-degree weather. I figured I could sure as heck finish a 5k in 10-degree weather; it motivated me.”
Julie Dickerson (19:33) and Caitlyn Tateishi (19:33) tied for second overall among female runners.
The early year race attracted an array of runners ranging from seasoned veterans like Le Moigne to 10-year-old Braydon Fahle (27:40), who ran alongside Dasha Hermosilla (29:58) and her friend and fellow Moms Run This Town teammate Jennie Apter (37:06).
“After the first mile my legs started to get cold,” he said. “The last downhill part of the race was fun and the course was pretty cool because I liked being next to the highway on the way back. It felt really good to finish first.”
James Parks (30:21) celebrated his 60th birthday on Saturday and scheduled this year’s Love the Run You’re With 5k to coincide with a 60-hour birthday party that spanned five cities.
“I was looking for something to fit into my schedule of 13 events in five cities,” the District resident said. “It started on Friday and went from Philadelphia to New York to D.C. to Richmond to Atlanta.”
After the race, Parks serenaded diners in the packed restaurant with his rendition of Stevie Winder’s famous 1980 “Happy Birthday”. Parks is an avid runner who ran three marathons last year. And while he considers himself to be quite the competitor, he said events like Sunday’s highlight the camaraderie between fellow runners.
“I don’t necessarily have to know all of the runners, but I know their hearts,” he said. They’re good people. Runners are the most wonderful kinds of people you can find in the world. And when you really get out there, you recognize that you’re not running against other people, you’re running with other people and they’re all cheering you on. It’s a beautiful thing.”
After recruiting their parents to join them for the Jingle All the Way 5k, Philadelphia, Pa., residents Wendy and Angela Hou (51:24) traveled back to their Herndon, Va., home a few days before the race. And just like many of this year’s participants, the two found themselves in a store Saturday evening shopping for items ahead of Sunday’s event.
But the sisters weren’t there to pick up gels, water bottles, socks or additional pre-race items. Instead, they walked out of a Northern Virginia Michaels craft store with tinsel, ornaments and other Christmas accoutrements.
“My sister and I convinced our parents to do their first run, so we wanted to make this really fun for them,” Wendy Hou (51:24), 26, said. “We put all of this together last night. We did it as a family and just went all out.”
[button-red url=”http://www.runwashington.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/120615_Jingle5K_RESULTS.txt” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-redThree members of Team Hou Hou Hous walked away with awards Sunday. Wendy Hou’s human Christmas tree earned first-place honors in the individual costume category, while her parents, Wen-Chun (51:24) and Shu-Ching (51:23), placed first in the couple’s category. Wen-Chun sported a red-and-white Santa Claus sweater and Santa hat, a paper beard and toted around three reindeer attached to wooden sticks. Shu-Ching donned a red-and-green elf hat and a matching red-and-green elf sweater.
More than 4,500 runners flooded downtown Washington, D.C., early Sunday morning to compete in the popular holiday-themed race. Runners gathered at the start-finish line near Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania, Ave., just before 9 a.m., and traversed the 3.1-mile course that took them past the U.S. Capitol building and on historic Independence Ave., before dropping them back off on Pennsylvania Ave. at to the finish line.
Kevin McNab, no stranger to top finishes, bested all runners with a time of 15:31. But Ryan Witters proved to be a formidable opponent as he placed second overall at 15:41. Northern Virginia Running Club (NOVA) member Emily Potter, who will compete in the February 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials, cruised to a first-place women’s finish at 17:37.
More than 20 of Potter’s teammates competed in the event. NOVA president, Erin Masterson (18:58), credited the group’s large showing to the race’s unique team categories.
“This was a big turnout for us,” Masterson, 32, said. “We focused on this race at the beginning of the year because there are very few opportunities for women to race competitively as a distinct team, and not with men – I love that Pacers did that this year.”
Potter wasn’t the only NOVA member to earn a first-place finish.
Although the father-daughter duo of Marc (23:14) and Madelyn Stokes occasionally run together during NOVA practices and on some of Marc’s recovery runs, Marc said soccer is 10-year-old Madelyn’s sport of choice. After Sunday, running just might give soccer some competition. Madelyn Stokes placed first in her age group with a time of 23:11.
“I was nervous at first because I saw a lot of kids and thought it was going to be hard – I wanted to get first in my age group to show my team,” the youngster said. “At first I was shocked. But when I found out that I was actually first I was really proud. I liked racing with my team.”
Marc Stokes, 43, ran collegiately at Texas A&M University. He raced alongside his daughter on Sunday.
“I’m her pacer,” he said with a laugh. “Maddie’s trying to break 22 [minutes]. We’re getting closer. I absolutely think she’ll do this again next year. It’s a great run.”
While Sunday’s race marked the first for many runners, it was anything but for 71-year-old District of Columbia resident Barbara Johnson (35:49). Johnson’s first race, she recalled, was 40 years ago, and said she has enjoyed the sport ever since. Friends and fellow runners showered her with applause as she made her way to the award podium Sunday to collect her medal for finishing first in her age group. She said she runs nearly every day, and has participated in more marathons and distance running competitions than she can remember.
“I love it; it keeps me going,” she said with a smile. “I really loved it today. It really was fun. I was supposed to meet some friends – I never met them. But I made some other friends and it was great. Everybody’s all dressed up.”
When asked if she’ll likely participate again next year, she quickly replied, “Oh yes. Why not?”
Susanna Sullivan narrowly missed a first-place finish in the 2014 Rockville Rotary Twilight Runfest when Etaferahu Temesgen shattered a race record to edge her by 10 seconds. This year, Sullivan made sure she ended up on the other end of a close race.
[button-red url=”https://www.mcrrc.org/race-results/2015/07/twilight-runfest-8k-women/” target=”_self” position=”left”] Women’s Results [/button-red]“Last year I lost in a kick so I really wanted to be conservative early and make sure that I was ready to kick at the end,” Sullivan, 24, said. “One of my teammates asked me if I looked back in the last half mile. I told her I didn’t, because I didn’t want to see where (runner up Elfinesh Melaku) was and didn’t want to see her right over my shoulder and panic.”
Sullivan, a Capital Area Runners club member and Falls Church resident placed first among female runners in the 2015 race Saturday night in downtown Rockville, running 27:22. Melaku ran 27:45
The race was Sullivan’s first since she ran 2:35:37 at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn. on June 20 , but the 28-day layoff didn’t have a negative impact on her performance. That happens when you’ve hit the Olympic A standard for the marathon.
“I took some time off after the marathon from working out and just really gotten into the workouts in the past week and a half. But they went well,” she said.
[button-red url=”https://www.mcrrc.org/race-results/2015/07/twilight-runfest-8k-men/” target=”_self” position=”left”] Men’s Results [/button-red]In the men’s portion of the 8k, Abu Kebede staved off Chris Sloane and the humidity to finish first among male runners, 25:02 to 25:04. Race spectators lined North Washington Street and cheered on the two men as Kebede cruised through the white finish line tape a step ahead of Sloane. The two hit the asphalt together shortly after.
“The last mile was very hard for me,” Kebede, 27, who lives in New York City, said. “It was very hot. The heat and up-and-down hills made it very difficult.”
High temperatures and humidity added another element to the already competitive race. Sloane, 32, vacationed in Southwest Florida in June and said he used some of his time there to prepare.
“I was in Florida for ten days last month and did a lot of training down there so that really helped,” Sloane, who lives in Gaithersburg, said. “I think it helped me today. I feel good about the way I ran. We started surging at probably about the last half mile and both realized that we were fighting for this. It went right down to the end.”
Third-place 8k women’s finisher Julia Roman–Duval, 32, of Columbia, said Saturday’s weather was perhaps the worst she’s encountered in her running career.
“I’m not used to it – I don’t usually do well in the heat so I had to kind of push through today,” she said with a laugh. “It definitely wasn’t my fastest time, but I’ll take it.”
Exavier Watson joined more than 15 of his Montgomery County Road Runners teammates for the popular night race. The Germantown resident said he already logged 75 miles over the week, but used Saturday’s race as a primer for the Atlantic City Marathon he plans to run this October.
“I used this as a training run and I also like the competition element, too. I feel like competition always prepares you for what’s coming down the road,” Watson, 36, said. “I’m really bad at hills and this was a hilly course. I thought about quitting a few times but I knew there was a flat finish at the end so I kept pushing. And I also didn’t want to look bad in front of my coworkers who are on the team. They’re training, too, and I didn’t want them to talk trash to me on Monday at work.”
While the race attracted some of the region’s most competitive runners, it offered variants – including a fun run/walk – for runners of all levels.
Olney, Md. residents Kira Bursaw and Laura Portillo signed up for the 2013 race but severe weather forced officials to call it off. Despite the heat, Saturday’s weather was more cooperative.
“We ran the two miler and it was a really neat route,” Bursaw, 26, said. “There were a lot of hills but it just was really nice. It was kind of intimidating, though, when you neared the finish and ran towards all of the people doing the 8k. It makes you feel like you’re out of shape. We’re going to sign back up and do it again next year.”
Portillo, 26, said she and Bursaw often participate in color and electric runs, but she chose Saturday’s race as a training exercise. She aspires to tackle some of the longer courses.
“I love running but I’m trying to work myself up to running longer distances,” she said. “The uphill parts of the course were challenging, so that’s a good start. It was all downhill at the end so that was nice.”
Middle school student Leilani Nti convinced her mother to sign her up for the two-mile, fun run/walk event after she stumbled across an ad for the race in The Gazette newspaper. Her aunt, Gabriella Fernandez, joined her.
“I like the course and it was really fun, but it was very overwhelming because I was one of the first five to finish,” Leilani, 11, said. “It was fun to look back and see such a big crowd behind me. Next year I want to do the 8k.”
When Gary and Keith Knipling spend quality time together, they’re not going out to the backyard to throw around a baseball.
The back yard for them is typically a large park where they’ll spend hours running ultramarathons. Then chatting about their races.
Gary and Keith, father and son, respectively, are out in Dayton, Wyo. for the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run June 19, a warmup act for Father’s Day.
It’s actually a series of ultras, with options for a 50 mile, 100 mile, 50k and 30k. Keith’s wife, Tracy, is running too.
Keith’s foray into the ultramarathon world occurred on New Year’s Day 1999 at the Red Eye 50k at Prince William Forest Park. It was the first ultramarathon the father-son duo ran together.
“It’s a low-key run,” he said. “That was my first ultra – 31 miles. That’s how I got started. After that, I kind of really jumped in.”
Jumping in wasn’t too scary with all the support he had. Both Kniplings are members of the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHTRC), as are a number of their ultramarathon-running pals. Gary has been a member of the VHTRC since its inception, and while he doesn’t consider himself a founding member, he did say he’s more like a not-so-distance relative.
“I wasn’t one of the founding fathers; I was more of like a founding nephew,” Gary, now 71, said with a laugh.
Keith, who lives in Alexandria, said the 400-member VHTRC meets for weekend runs, and believes that the camaraderie among the club’s members helps power them through the grueling activity.
“With ultramarathons, especially the 100 milers, everyone shares a common bond,” said Keith, a civilian research scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., said. “When you run a 100 miler, I don’t care if you win it or you’re in last place, the suffering is all the same so you kind of share that experience,” he said. “Also, you’re in the elements. So if you have to go through a hellacious hailstorm or whatever, you all kind of experience that together. It’s always fun at the end of these to actually meet up at the finish and share stories. It’s that idea of a shared experience that makes it somewhat like a fraternity.”
Gary currently lives in Lorton, Va., and is a self-described, “semi-practicing” veterinarian. He said he fell victim to the running craze that swept the United States in the 1970s, fueled by the celebrity of Steve Prefontaine, Bill Rodgers and the other iconic runners of that era.
“Gosh, I remember the Washington Running Club, running on Sunday mornings down on Haines Point, and of course, the Marine Corps Marathon,” Gary recalled. “[The Marine Corps Marathon] changed things in the whole Washington area, in terms of getting our own marathon, so to speak.”
A few races were all Gary needed to know that the sport was for him. He ran his first ultramarathon in 1990.
“I had run maybe 15 or so marathons and started getting a whiff of some of the ultra runs,” he said. “I’ve always loved being outdoors. So the trail runs, combining being out in nature with the endorphins of a good, hard run, there’s just a wonderful blend there.
To date, Gary has completed more than 30 100-miler events.
“I’m 32 of 36,” he said.
Despite his father’s love of distance running, Keith Knipling didn’t catch the bug until later in life.
“I always thought that it would be so wonderful if one day in our lives we were able to do a 10k together,” Gary said. “I figured that if I said it to him it would give him something to think about. Little did I know that it would happen. Be careful what you wish for.”
Keith Knipling has participated in more than 100 ultramarathons and 52 100 milers. He plans to cross off another six this year. He surprisingly said that running a marathon is actually more difficult and taxing than some variants of an ultramarathon.
“I think the recovery for a marathon is harder than the recovery from a 50 miler,” Keith said. “The intensity is so much lower than in a marathon. With the 100 miler, there’s definitely a recovery period because there’s a lot of swelling that happens. I can bounce back pretty quickly from them.”
As the dog days of summer continue, so will Gary and Keith Knipling. And for anyone interested in joining the dark side and participating in an ultramarathon, Gary wants to offer the following words of encouragement.
“In a 100 miler, you just have to get through the first 50 or 60 miles,” he said. “It’s as much mental as it is physical. It’s somewhat similar to the last four or five miles in a marathon.”
Want to run with dad? There are a few local races scheduled for Sunday:
- Father’s Day 8k- Washington, D.C.
- GMBC Father’s day 5k – Towson, Md.
- ZERO Prostate Cancer 4 Miler- Arlington, Va.
- Fathers Helping Fathers 5 Mile- Fairfax Station, Va.
- Run With Dad 5k- Reston, Va.
History repeated itself for Patrick Moulton at 2015’s Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon.
The Providence, R.I. native earned a first-place finish with a time of 2:32:54. He also finished first (2:21:17) in 2009 when the race was then called the Suntrust National and Half Marathon.
[button-red url=” http://running.competitor.com/cgiresults?eId=54&eiId=227″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]“It’s been a while, so it’s nice to come back,” the 2008 Olympic Trials qualifier said. “The biggest challenges today were the elements. There was the cold rain. I just tried to finish as strong as I could and took it mile after mile. I caught [second-place finisher] Mynor Lopez (2:34:25) around mile 23 or 24 and I actually felt great coming in. The finish is awesome because you see the [Robert F. Kennedy Memorial] stadium and it’s a nice backdrop. That’s really cool.”
Lopez, who lives in Guatemala, decided to run his first Rock ‘n’ Roll race to qualify for a future race in Canada. It didn’t hurt that his cousin, Danny Lopez, also lives in the area.
“It is a very nice race and it is very organized. The weather just did not cooperate very well,” Mynor Lopez said, through his cousin Danny who served as his translator.
While Lopez, 31, didn’t get time he needed to qualify for his race in Canada, he said he will compete again in next year’s race.
The Moulton-Lopez battle wasn’t the only one to occur in the course’s final miles.
Rebecca Bader (2:55:53) and Martha Nelson (2:55:36) remained on each other’s heels through the course’s final stretch as they neared the finish line. Bader, who finished as runner-up in last year’s race, held a slim lead as she sprinted toward the inflatable arch near course’s end. And like last year, she also saw her lead dwindle in the race’s final moments.
When asked if she plans to give it another try next year, Bader, who lives in Syracuse, N.Y., laughed.
“I thought this time would be the time, but it happens in racing. I came in second place last year, too. You just never know,” Bader, 37, said.
This year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon, half marathon and 5k drew more than 25,000 entrants from around the world. Early morning rain and 40-degree temperatures greeted participants upon arrival and remained throughout the duration of the race. Event staff provided runners with ponchos, but they offered little protection from the elements.
Participants in the half marathon didn’t have to endure the weather’s wrath for as long.
American University’s Carlos Jamieson (1:07:43) edged Andrew Brodeur (1:08:50) to finish first among men’s runners in the half, and mere seconds separated Hirut Beyene Guangul (1:15:54) from Rachel Schneider (1:16:24).
Saturday’s half marathon was a first for Brodeur, who is a fixture at local races.
“I really didn’t know how to pace myself for the first part of it,” Brodeur, 24, said. “But at about five or six miles I had [third-place half finisher] Kevin Hoyt (1:08:54) around and he had a real good idea of what his pace should be. I just kind of tried to stick with him the whole rest of the race. Probably at the last 200 meters we started sprinting… we actually thought the blue blowup [arch] was the finish, but it wasn’t. We had an extra 150 meters after that.”
Marcello Simoes, 25, made the five-hour drive from his home in Fairfield, Conn., to Washington, D.C., to run in his first Rock ‘n’ Roll half.
“I heard about it through the Boston Marathon so I decided to run it with my girlfriend,” he said. “We got into town yesterday and we’re heading back up tomorrow. “The weather is terrible. It was very cold, but I think we’re going to do it again.”
Despite the weather, a multitude of fans still traveled to Southeast D.C. to cheer on marathoners.
Potomac Runners and D.C. Triathlon Club member Becky Hirselj (2:08:06) has participated in the yearly event since it was called the Suntrust National and Half. Hirselj said the amount of fan support was impressive.
“I would have guessed that everyone would have stayed home,” Hirselj, 41, who ran the half, said. “No pun intended, but it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. There were a lot of people out cheering in costumes. It was great. I would have had a hard time getting out of bed. I was pleasantly surprised.”
Saturday’s marathon marked the 100th for Fairfax, Va., resident Joe Harris (2:27:00). Former Congressman Jim Ryun (R-Kan.), who won a silver medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games in the mile, presented Harris with a plaque to commemorate the milestone.
Harris, a Vietnam veteran, said his inspiration to run long-distance races came from an unlikely source.
“In November of 2004 I got a phone call from my company commander in Vietnam who I hadn’t spoken to in about 30 years. He found my name and he gave me call and said ‘there’s a half marathon out here in Arizona in January. Let’s run it together,’” Harris, 65, said. “I did, and it was a Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon. It was my first ever half.”
Harris has run 85 half marathons and 15 full marathons. He’s even convinced others to join him.
“I have a special group of friends and we call ourselves the Rock ‘n’ Roll gypsies. We travel all over the country and we see each other at different events,” he said. They’re just the greatest group of people in the world and they’ve stayed with me, they’ve run with me and they’ve pushed me on when I’ve gotten tired. Just having them with me gives me so much motivation. And that’s what running is really all about–being with friends.”
Harris doesn’t plan to slow down now that he’s reached the century mark. In fact, he and the Rock ‘n’ Roll gypsies will soon head to East Texas. “I have Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas next week, and then San Francisco. This year I have at least 12,” he said.
Georgetown Running Club runner Kevin McNab’s pre-race ritual is quite unorthodox, to say the least. Some runners prefer to get a quick warmup the morning of the race, while others load up on carbs and water for sustenance. McNab, however, said he is lucky if he arrives to the race venue more than 10 minutes before start time.
Sunday was no different.
[button-red url=” http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=4647″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]“This morning was less hectic than races in the past. Catching the Yellow Line on the weekend is like rolling the dice, in terms of whether you’re going to make it somewhere in time,” McNab, 28, said. “I made it with like 15 minutes to spare before the race started—which is pretty good for me.”
While unorthodox, it works for McNab. He breezed through the finish line in 15:14 to claim a first-place finish in the 2015 Love the Run You’re With 5K at Arlington’s Pentagon Row.
Pacers/New Balance runner Andrew Brodeur placed second overall, coming in at 15:17.
“It was a great competition between Andrew and me. We started out and it could have been one of those very slow races where everyone just runs as this big group that breaks up with a half a mile left to go. I saw that happening,” McNab, who ran collegiately at Texas A&M University, said. “I decided to push the pace a little bit and we strung out through about a mile. It was Andrew and I running shoulder to shoulder pretty much the whole way. We turned around and came back and I hopped on his back for a little while and made a surge. He made a counter surge and laid the hammer down. I made one last big push—I probably lost like 10 years of my knees’ life going down that last hill. I value the win more than I value my ability to walk.”
McNab and Brodeur last raced against each other in November’s Stache Dash 5k where Brodeur edged McNab for first place.
“There were similar circumstances, except that time I ended up winning. We’ve been going back and forth,” Brodeur, 24, said. “Going into that last mile, I was thinking about his strategy. I knew he was going to make a move soon and I was trying to prepare for it. I actually tried to make a move before the downhill to see if I could get rid of him before then, but he held on. When I finally got down that hill, my legs were just beat. They were spinning at that point. I just couldn’t keep up with him.”
Earlier in 2014, McNab kicked to victory in the Germantown 5 Miler and Freedom Four Mile.
More than 1,400 people participated in the Valentine’s Day-themed race that took runners on Arlington’s South Joyce Street and Army-Navy Drive, before ending at Pentagon Row, a stone’s throw from the Pentagon City Mall.
And as with many holiday-themed races, team participation was strong.
Amy Laskowske and Joanna Russo (24:20) chose Ovaries Before Brovaries — inspired by the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation— as their team name and finished first among female team runners with a combined time of 20:50. Laskowske also placed first among individual female runners with a time of 17:19.
“This race was fun because of the team aspect. Joanna and I did one of the paring teams and while we didn’t run together, we came up with a team name and competed under the same gender. But we won, so that was great,” Laskowske, 27, said. “The course was fun. I hadn’t run a 5K in a while. I love running, but I really like the team aspect—I like the camaraderie more than the times. Joanna did great. It was nice because I was able to finish and then watch her finish. I cheered her on and she cheered me on since it’s an out-and-back course, so we could see each other. We obviously wanted to win, and we did. So we’re pretty pumped about our medals.”
Champps Americana opened its doors to runners for a post-race party and medal ceremony. And despite it being early morning, the sports bar was filled to near capacity. A deejay with karaoke equipment posted up near the back of the restaurant as runners trickled in throughout the morning. A microphone was available to brave souls who wanted to exercise their vocal cords.
Melissa Reyes (42:16) and Nicole Frisone (42:16) didn’t wait for an invitation. The two belted out their version of the Neil Diamond classic “Sweet Caroline,” which garnered the approval of those in the restaurant who joined in the chorus from their seats.
“I was not intoxicated at all,” Frisone, 29, said with a laugh. “I just wanted to do it. There’s no shame in our [race] time and there’s no shame in our singing. It was all fun.”
The two recently began running together, but met on a rowing team at Georgetown’s Thompson Boat Center a while back.
“I took Melissa to a 5k in January, and now she’s back for more.”
Reyes ran her first competitive race with Frisone in January at the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in Orlando, Fla. And while Sunday’s weather wasn’t as warm as sunny Central Florida’s, Reyes said she still enjoyed the race.
“How could you not have a good time? We sang the whole way, right into the karaoke,” Reyes, 42, said. “When we were running we sang a little Bon Jovi and a little Blind Melon. We also sang a little “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. We’re definitely doing this again.”
For much of the 2014 Jingle All the Way 5k, Nicolas Crouzier (16:01) remained on Tom Dichiara’s (15:56) heels. Both runners battled for sole possession of the lead throughout the 3.1-mile course.
But as the two neared the finish line, Dichiara turned it on to edge Crouzier, and captured a first-place finish among all runners.
[button-red url=” http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=4558″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]“For the last stretch, Tom just had a good kick. I tried to follow him for a few seconds, but I couldn’t hold on,” Crouzier, 29, said. “But I got second place at 16 minutes, so that’s pretty good.”
Dichiara, who coaches the Landon School’s varsity track and cross-country teams, breezed through the downtown course averaging 5:08 a mile. After the race, he said he had incentive to run faster.
“We started off and one of the guys was wearing bells. That definitely made me run faster because I didn’t want to have to listen to that for the entire race,” Dichiara, 37, said with a laugh.
“This is my third time running the Jingle All the Way race. I did it twice when it was an 8k and I really loved it. It’s just a great way to kick off the holiday season to be able to come here and see everybody all dressed up. It really gets you into the holiday spirit.”
While last year’s wintry mix provided an idyllic backdrop for the race, the weather this year was far more cooperative. The rain that battered the region for much of Saturday cleared out in time, and while temperatures at the beginning of the race remained frigid, they warmed up as the first group of runners crossed the finish line.
“I thought it was a gorgeous morning. The weather was wildly more cooperative, opposed to last evening when we were setting up in the rain. But it was beautiful this morning, there were lots of great competitors and the costumes were amazing,” Pacers Race Director for Events Lisa Reeves said.
Elves, reindeer, Santa Claus and a human Christmas tree counted among the costumes worn by the more than 4,835 runners who finished the popular holiday race. Last year, 4,403 finished.
Former roommates Molly Carpenter (33:52) and Claire Pearcy (33:52) donned complete, matching Santa suits. The two haven’t lived together for a couple of years, but said events such as the Jingle All the Way 5k give them a good excuse to see each other.
“We always run our races together” Pearcy, 26, said. “I don’t think I’ve ever run a race without her — she’s my accountability partner. She called me and talked me into doing it this year.”
Carpenter said the race’s festive atmosphere added a unique element that helped make the running more enjoyable.
“Checking out everyone’s costumes while you’re running actually makes it seem like time is going by much faster. There’s definitely a different energy among the runners. While it’s competitive, people look like they’re having a lot of fun,” Carpenter, 28, said.
While Carpenter and Pearcy opted for a more traditional look, Carolyn Genegaban (41:41) channeled her inner-Martha Stewart to create a wearable Christmas tree that drew the attention of fellow runners and passersby who strolled around the Freedom Plaza area.
“Well, I joined as a team, and my team already had a Santa, a Christmas gift and a reindeer. So I had a couple of options. I ultimately thought a Christmas tree would be the funniest,” the 28-year-old Germantown, Md. resident said.
Genegaban’s wearble Christmas tree earned first-place costume honors from race judges.
“I put it together yesterday with the help of my husband. I spray painted foam mattress toppers, I attached the ornaments and tinsel with a glue gun and I added a star on top. It got a little heavy. Needless to say, this was my slowest 5k.”
Stephanie Lundeby moved from Oklahoma to Alexandria, Va. in July. The 31-year-old personal trainer didn’t waste time establishing herself in the local running community. Lundeby finished first among female runners on Sunday as she turned in a time of 18:29.
She also gained a new friend and potential running partner in second-place female finisher Chelsea Bollerman (18:42).
Like Dichiara and Crouzier, Lundeby and Bollerman also had their own in-race duel.
“Chelsea fell on my shoulder at about the mile mark. She came up on me and it was great to have her there because I was kind of on my own, and I was trying to figure out my pace. It was nice to have somebody there to keep me motivated. She definitely helped me keep my pace,” Lundeby said.
This year’s race was also the first for Bollerman, a graduate student at The Catholic University of America.
“I saw Stephanie take charge of the race so I decided that I was going to try to stick to her. I was pretty much on her shoulder for most of the race until she dropped me with about half of a mile left to go,” Bollerman, 27, said. “It was really great to get out there and run with her. I think everyone’s enthusiasm was really great.”
Bollerman and Lundeby chatted for a while after the race to congratulate each other and discuss running together in the future.
The friendly rivalries weren’t limited to just the adults.
Thirteen-year-old Carmen (22:08) and 15-year-old Alicia Booher (22:53) joined their mother Ivette (25:08) for Sunday’s race. Ivette Booher, 49, said the two sisters enjoy spirited competitions against each other.
“When racing one another, they go back and forth,” she said with a laugh. “You never know whose day it’s going to be.”
Sunday was younger sister Carmen’s day as she finished first in her age group.
“I thought the course today was pretty good,” the eighth grader said. “I liked seeing all of the costumes on everyone.”
While runners completed the 2014 Veterans Day 10k with varying finishing times, many gave the same response post-race when they described the scenic, 6.2-mile course: fast.
[button-red url=”http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=4486″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Pacers/New Balance runner Chris Kwiatkowski of Arlington bested all runners with a 30:11 finish, while 25-year-old Kerri Gallagher finished first among female runners, and 21st overall, with a 33:50 finish.
Kwiatkowski sprinted past last year’s winner Brian Flynn’s time by 1:15.
Washington, D.C. resident Paul Thistle finished behind his Pacers/New Balance teammate at 31:13, and former Georgetown University runner Rachel Schneider trailed Gallagher in 34:48.
The race, largely popular because of its course, attracted more than 1,800 participants whose ages ranged from 11 to 83.
Each runner’s motivation was as diverse as their age.
James Finney Jr. (1:05:18) walked along Lincoln Memorial Circle shortly after crossing the finish line. Finney, an avid runner, placed first in his age group. And perhaps the morning weather was cool enough to wick away his perspiration, but he looked like he barely broke a sweat in the process.
“I run around 20 to 25 races a year,” the 75-year-old Arlington resident said. “I just finished the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 26. I ran the Army Ten-Miler on Oct. 12 and I did the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon on Oct. 5.
“(Veterans Day) was a perfect race – there was terrific running weather. It was a fast course, there were plenty of water stops and it was very enjoyable.”
Finney, a National Guard employee, said he was pleased with his early-morning performance. “I feel good about my finish. I was shooting for a 1:00:03 finish, and I finished in around 1:00:04, so I was close to my goal time.
He also said he had an external motivation to run well.
“It was honor to run in this race to honor our nation’s veterans. This area, where we ran, is an inspirational area. It really was just a positive experience.”
Not far from Finney stood Ferdinand Duyanen, who donned a black and gold U.S. Army t-shirt. The now-retired service member doesn’t consider himself to be a competitive runner, but said he enjoys the occasional competitive race.
“I’m running for a good cause. I’m out here for my brothers and sisters in the service. This is my second year and it’s a great experience,” said Duyanen, who was deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm, along with Germany, Japan, Hawaii and other countries throughout his 22 years in the U.S. Army.
“I imagine that there are many others out here today who are doing it for the same reasons as me. Every year I like to come out here and run by the memorials. I’m not a competitive runner at all, but I do enjoy doing this each year.”
But not everyone who ran Sunday morning had ties to the Armed Forces.
Lionel Gloster (1:08:16) first learned about the Veterans Day 10k nearly 11 years ago through a running coach affiliated with the American Stroke Association. Gloster’s mother, Mallie Marie, passed away at age 67 due to heart disease, which prompted him to begin living a healthier lifestyle.
“It was the catalyst,” he said. “People always say that high blood pressure and diabetes run in the African-American community, so I say, ‘Well, we can run it out.’”
Sunday’s race marked Gloster’s sixth. And although he began his Veterans Day 10k experience under somber circumstances, it has blossomed into one that has become far more enjoyable over the years.
“I really like the camaraderie between everyone – the veterans, the young and old. It’s just a great race on a Sunday morning to remember and give thanks to those who gave their lives for us. That’s what this is all about,” the 56-year-old Lanham, Md., resident said.
Gloster also said the yearly races and training regimen have helped him remain free from heart disease.
“Now when I go to the doctor, he tells me that I’m boring. My blood pressure is fine; I don’t have diabetes or any underlying health issues.”
An ebullient Bella Drake (58:13) finished Sunday’s race with a wide smile plastered across her face. The 13-year-old Swanson Middle School student placed second in her age group.
“I really liked that the course was near the water,” she said. “You could even see the airport. I also liked the start of the race since it was near all of the monuments.”
Despite her just being a middle school student, Bella said she occasionally runs with Washington-Lee High School’s cross country team. She aspires to run collegiately at the University of Oregon, like overall winner Kwiatkowski.
“It feels really good,” Bella said of her first Veterans Day 10k race. “I really admire many of the other runners who were out here today.”
Bella’s mother, Theresa (1:16:26), joined her for the race.
“She’s trying to improve her time and she wants to be a good runner and maybe go to college and run,” Theresa Drake, 46, said. “So this year I’ve been signing her up for lots of the races that I run. She’s come a long way. I’m proud of her.”
As the last runners crossed the finish line just before 10 a.m., a group of nearly 30 members and mentors of the Washington, D.C.-based running group Teens Run DC crowded the area to cheer for a teammate who was finishing her first competitive, long-distance run. Leading the chorus of cheers was 17-year-old Ahmed Hassan (46:50), a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School.
Hassan competed in the grueling Marine Corps Marathon just a few weeks earlier, and said he pushed his body to its physical limit to prepare and compete in the Veterans Day 10k. He finished first in his age group.
“I was struggling through it. I wasn’t feeling good at all,” he said. “But it was worth it as I started sprinting at the end. I was so close to first place and I just started sprinting. So it was worth it.”