Washington, DC
Katy Kunc at the Footlocker South Regional meet.
Katy Kunc at the Footlocker South Regional meet.

A lifelong soccer player, Katy Kunc didn’t start running competitively until her junior year of high school.

She intended to run to get in shape for soccer, but had a lot of fun running cross-country. One year later, the Lake Braddock senior just completed her second cross-country season. She recently competed in the Foot Locker Nationals at Balboa Park in San Diego finishing in 19th place with a time of 18:07.

Her goals for her first national race were simple: “Have a good race and try to stay near Hannah and see where it goes.” She ran with teammate Hannah Christen, who came in 21st.

Coach Mike Mangan describes Kunc as “quiet” and a “total newbie to running.” Her PRs reflect her high level of conditioning and stamina from years of playing forward and defense in soccer: 5:07 in the mile and 11:14 in the 2 mile.

“I am not sure we have even begun to tap into her abilities,” he said. “She is going to be a dynamite runner in college. I wish we had had her for four years.”

Kunc, a quiet, tall blonde, she displays impeccable focus on school and running, excelling both on the track and in the classroom. She is deciding where to attend college next year. UVA and Kentucky are on the list of schools she is considering. She is a member of the DECA club and also runs indoor and outdoor track. One thing’s for certain: she wants to continue running in college.

In her spare time, Kunc enjoys hanging out with her teammates and frequents Noodles and Company and Panera, as well as the movie theatre. She hangs out with her brother, a sophomore at Lake Braddock.

As Kunc approaches graduation, she reflects on how joining the cross-country and track teams have transformed her life and fostered a love of the sport.

“I love all the people I met,” she says. “We have such great coaches and it’s a really good environment.”

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Lake Braddock junior Alex Corbett. Photo: Jimmy Daly
Lake Braddock junior Alex Corbett. Photo: Jimmy Daly

Alex Corbett inadvertently fell in love with running while running the mile in gym class in middle school.

“That’s when I discovered I had talent,” he recalled during the Ram Invitational at Robinson Secondary School on Dec. 4.

Corbett, a junior at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, started running track during the outdoor season in eighth grade and shows no sign of stopping. He has been a member of the cross-country and track teams since freshman year. His times have been improving year after year, and now he is one of Virginia’s most talented high school runners.

Bruins coach Mike Mangan says Corbett has shown his potential year after year.

“Alex has become a student of running like few kids I have coached,” Mangan said. “He does all the little things that most overlook.”

Corbett came in second in the state cross-country meet at Great Meadow in November, running alongside Oakton’s John Stoney until the last 800 meters when Stoney pulled ahead. He finished with a time of 15:34.

“The kid in front of me put up a good fight,” Corbett said of the race.

[button-red url=”http://www.runwashington.com/2013/12/16/runwashington-high-school-cross-country-team/” target=”_self” position=”left”] More of the All-RunWashington team [/button-red]During his freshman and sophomore years, he has competed in the Foot Locker regional meets. This year, Corbett competed in the Nike NXN Southeast Regional meet in Cary, N.C. on Nov. 30. The first-time Nike competitor ran a 15:26, securing a 12th place finish and a 5K PR.

“It was really competitive,” Corbett said. “It was different because the field was really competitive. I tried to get people one by one. I would look at the person in front of me, catch them, then get the next one.”

Although the indoor track season just started, Corbett is looking ahead to his senior cross-country season. He is focusing on achieving PRs, winning states, and strives to compete in either the Foot Locker or Nike national meet in 2014.

“I want to PR as much as I can and win states individually and as a team,” he said. “My goal is to get as close to 9 minutes flat (in the 2 miler) and being in the sub-4:15 neighborhood for the mile.” Corbett’s current PR in the mile is 4:19 and 9:25 for the 2-mile.

Coach Mangan has no doubt that Corbett will achieve those PRs in 2014.

“He is getting better by the second,” Mangan said. “I am so excited that he is only a junior.”

Corbett wants to continue running track and cross country in college, but hasn’t yet decided on schools. In the meantime, he is focusing on enjoying his junior year with his teammates.

“My teammates are not only friends, they’re great competitors,” he said. “Everyone pushes each other and supports each other.”

So far, his favorite memory of the 2013 cross-country season is winning the district meet.

During his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and video games with his friends. He enjoys reading; Steve Prefontaine’s biography is on his reading list. Corbett is also an avid classic rock fan and has seen the Rolling Stones three times. He is currently taking two AP classes in U.S. History and Environmental Science, though he enjoys his Auto Tech class, where students are taught how to work on donated cars.

“I don’t want to be a mechanic,” Corbett explained. “I just think [auto repair] is something everyone should know.”

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Danny Cooper of Falls Church finished the 5.5 mile race in third place overall in the final Fall Backyard Burn series race at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park in Clifton  Dec. 1/. Photo: Jessie Biele
Danny Cooper of Falls Church finished the 5.5 mile race in third place overall in the final Fall Backyard Burn series race at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park in Clifton Dec. 1. Photo: Jessie Biele

The Fall Backyard Burn Trail Running Series wrapped up Dec. 1 at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park in Clifton.

The race attracted local cross country runners and trail running aficionados. Runners in the 5.5 mile and 10.3 mile race encountered rugged conditions, with a few small patches of ice thrown in for good measure. The course took runners through hiking trails (including the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail), open fields, and dirt roads by the Occoquan River and Popes Head Creek.

Many runners agreed that the course was more difficult than others in the series due to the hills, rocks, and stream crossings.

“I heard some cursing in front of me and I knew to be careful,” said Ivette Booher of Lorton, who competed in the 5.5 mile race. “It was fantastic, it was great weather for [the race].”

“I thought it was really challenging relative to the ones I’ve done in the past,” commented Kate Blood of McLean.

Brent Bartlett of Falls Church won the 5.5 mile race with a time of 35:55. His wife, Marta Bartlett, was the first female finisher in the 5.5 mile race, finishing in 42:35. The Bartletts train together for the trail races, which they have been running for the last couple of years.

“I know the pace I could hold and went with it,” Brent, a former cross-country athlete at SUNY Geneseo, said of his race strategy. “It’s probably the hardest race [in the series], there were a lot of rocks and streams. The people who run it do a really good job of clearing the course.”

Second place female finisher Jen Cortesi finished the 5.5 mile course in 43:58, trailed by Sarah Flynn, who finished in 44:46. Murjan Hammad came in second place overall in the 5.5 miler with a time of 38:36.

Third place overall finisher Danny Cooper of Falls Church ran his first Backyard Burn race on Sunday morning. Cooper, who completed the 5.5 mile race in 39:01, ran cross-country in high school and said that the course at Hemlock was challenging as a first-time competitor.

“My strategy was to stay close to people because I don’t know the course at all and I didn’t want to get off the path, but they marked it pretty well so that really wasn’t an issue,” Cooper said. “I didn’t want to start out too strong because I’m not in the best shape I could be, so I didn’t want to burn out in the middle of it. Two big hills could just wipe you out for the rest of the race, so I was trying not to crush it on the hills because I also didn’t know which hills were coming up.”

Woodson High School rowing coach Joe McMullin competed in the 10.3 mile race Sunday, finishing third overall with a time of 1:14:09. Jason Starr and Chad Wolf finished first and second overall in that race in 1:12:20 and 1:13:46, respectively.

McMullin began running competitively two years ago after running relays with his father, who is a triathlete. He competed in two other races in the Backyard Burn series last month at Wakefield and Prince William Forest Park.

“I like running these [races],” he said. “This is a nice transition [from rowing]. I’m doing races one weekend then regattas the next.”

McMullin said his race-day strategy was to power up hills and said the race was well-coordinated.

“This race, I think was the hardest one,” he said. “The people who run the race do a great job, there were plenty of water stations and plenty of bathrooms.”

Sunday’s race was a family affair for Claudia Escribano and her daughter, Caitlin Payne, who ran the 5.5 mile course.

Escribano, a long-time runner, inspired her daughter to start running cross country when she entered high school. Since then the pair, who live in Sterling, run together in local races including mud runs and trail races.

“I don’t know that I would come out here if I didn’t have someone to run with, so it’s good to have her there,” Escribano said. “We love these trail runs, these are awesome. I mean, they’re hard as heck but they’re fun.”

“We run just for the fun of it,” Payne said. Escribano and Payne also ran the Backyard Burn race at Prince William Forest Park on Nov. 17.

Although competitors agreed that the course at Hemlock was a challenge, some said it was a great race for those who enjoy trail running.

“The ice made it really difficult. I think this is a really unique race series. Depending on your level of fitness, you can still get a good run in,” Blood said.

“It’s really fun, a great vibe, and people cheer each other on,” Fay Slattery of Alexandria said. “If somebody trips, everybody stops and asks if you’re ok. It’s really nice. I like the fall race series. It’s like you have your own cross country season.”

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Rose Spahn, 12, of Fairfax Station raced with her dog, Kenai, in the Drumstix Dash 8k at Burke Lake Park  Saturday, Nov. 30.
Rose Spahn, 12, of Fairfax Station raced with her dog, Kenai, in the Drumstix Dash 8k at Burke Lake Park Saturday, Nov. 30. Photo: Jessie Biele

Tyler Andrews, 23, registered last-minute for the Drumstix Dash 8k while visiting family for Thanksgiving in the D.C. area.

Although the temperatures were a far cry from what he’s used to while living in Quito, Ecuador, Andrews took first place overall in Saturday’s race with a time of 28:02.

Hundreds of runners braved the below-freezing temperatures Saturday morning to compete in the Drumstix Dash 8k at Burke Lake Park.

Now in its fifth year, the popular post-Thanksgiving race benefits Housing and Community Services of Northern Virginia (HCSNV), a Springfield-based nonprofit that provides services to the homeless, including emergency housing assistance, case management, counseling and financial literacy training.[button-red url=”http://www.albanyrunningexchange.org/results/search.php?ID=3619″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]

The race raises money for HCSNV programs. In 2011 and 2012, the race raised a net profit of $20,000 for the organization, which comes from sponsor money and a small percentage of race registrations. The race is a key fundraiser that helps the organization continue to fulfill its mission, said race founder and HCSNV board member Jill Landsman. The organization also hosted the Everyone’s Home Matters Fundraiser at the McLean Project for the Arts in October, which was another major fundraiser for  HCSNV.

“When counties provide funding for nonprofits they never do it completely,” Landsman said. “If you can’t prove you can fundraise then you can’t keep your doors open. So the fundraising is essential to keeping nonprofits open.”

This year’s turnout was thinner than past years due to the weather and the number of other races taking place over Thanksgiving weekend, Landsman said. She said that 206 people participated in 8k and accompanying fun run.

Board President José Paíz said HCSNV appreciates the community support for the race.

“It’s for a great cause and we are really grateful for all the folks who come out here and support the organization, and shed some of the extra pounds they gained over Thanksgiving,” Paíz said.

First-place finisher Andrews is the director and co-owner of STRIVE Trips, which offers service travel opportunities for student athletes. Andrews recently launched STRIVE Racing, a team of semi-elite post-collegiate athletes based in New York. He ran the Drumstix Dash to show support for HCSNV.

“I work a lot with nonprofits and I try to support that as much as I can,” Andrews said. “A portion of my team’s proceeds go towards NGO projects we work on. So it’s important for me to find races to support projects that are like-minded.”

Second-place finisher Ryan Hughes of Ashburn finished more than 30 seconds after Andrews with a time of 28:34. Third-place overall finisher Patrick Spahn trailed after Hughes, coming in at 29:44.

Handcycle athlete Rebecca Rollick, 11, of Chesapeake, Va. traveled with her parents to compete in the Drumstix Dash. Rollick was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that affects her muscles. Rebecca has had numerous surgeries that have enabled her to walk with leg braces, and she has been going to physical therapy sessions since birth. She participated in the 8k just a few months after receiving a racing handcycle from Preston’s March for Energy and plans to enter between 15 and 20 races per year.

“She’s just absolutely determined,” mom Jessie Rollick commented while waiting for her daughter to complete the race. “She’ll get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to go do a race and not even complain about it. She just loves it so much. She’s an absolute go-getter.”

Cathy Ross of Burke claimed her second consecutive first-place finish in the women’s division with a time of 35:38. Lauren Burke of Oakton finished in second place with a time of 37:04 and Chloe Shaltanis followed Burke in third place with a time of 37:43.

 

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