Washington, DC
Matt Gilchrist poses with his runners at the Northern Region track championship in May. From left: Connor Cannavan, Patrick Marlow, Gilchrist, James Monson, and Wyatt Cyr  Photo: Ed Lull

In 2012, Chantilly High School track and cross country coach Matt Gilchrist wanted to run a mile with one of his graduating seniors, state champion Sean McGorty. But the weight Gilchrist had gained over the years of putting his coaching before his own health stopped him in his tracks.

“I remember getting about 600 meters around the track and I was done. I couldn’t do it,” said Gilchrist, who previously ran at Gettysburg College. “At the time, I was 40 years old and couldn’t run a mile.”

But this past May, 162 pounds lighter, Gilchrist cruised around the track alongside one of his graduating runners, Nicole Re, who called the four laps together “a memory that will stick with me.”

Read More

Rich Mendelowitz warms up at the Yorktown High School track. Photos: Marleen van den Neste

Rich Mendelowitz sat in a doctor’s office looking at a picture of his brain. The photo lit up on the left side, healthy and full of arteries.

But, the right side was totally blank.

Mendelowitz, 59, was completely in shock. He’s the president of DC Road Runners and has run 2,000 miles per year for most of his life – and doctors told him that’s why he wasn’t already dead.

“The only reason I was alive was because of my fitness and running,” the Arlington runner said.

Read More

Mike Stubbs walks this Bullis School's cross country course. Photo: Marleen Van Den Neste
Mike Stubbs walks this Bullis School’s cross country course. Photo: Marleen Van Den Neste

Around the athletic fields, through the woods, up and down rolling hills then a wide-open 50 meter uphill sprint to the finish.

“I can go through every inch of it,” said Mike Stubbs, the former cross country coach at Bullis School in Potomac.

Stubbs may no longer work at Bullis, but he can still walk you through a step-by-step tour of the cross country course he built there – some parts with his bare hands – in Summer 2011.

“My now-wife felt she was the mistress, and the cross country course was the fiance at the time. There were a lot of days sun up to sun down,” he said. “To run on something that you built like that is one of the coolest things ever. I don’t think a lot of people will get that experience of putting a lot of energy into building something like that and then be able to run on it.”

Read More

Sleet pelts the faces of runners during the St. Pat's 10k. Photo: Bruce Buckley/Swim Bike Run Photography
Runners finish the sleet-free first mile of the St. Pat’s 10k. Photo: Bruce Buckley/Swim Bike Run Photography

On a morning so unpleasant the air horn refused to work when it was time to start the race, runners still filled the icy streets around the National Mall for the St. Pat’s Day 10k.

Under constant snow and freezing rain that almost cancelled the 10k, thousands of runners sported green tights, shamrock t-shirts and some even bared their legs to the cold in traditional kilts.

While many said they didn’t come into the race with a time goal because of the less-than-ideal weather conditions, Chris Kwiatowski dominated the 10k race for the Pacers team with a time of 30:26.

[button-red url=” http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=4647″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]“It’s D.C. winter, it’s fun out here,” he said. “Running is hard as it is, so you just have to adjust and kind of go with what the weather gives you and just try to finish faster than you started.”

Running sub-5:00 miles, Kwiatowski finished about two minutes ahead of the next runner, Gregory Mariano from Capital Area Runners in 32:15.

Kwiatowski said he used Sunday’s event as a springboard for his upcoming Spring races, including the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and some outdoor track events.

The race was a departure from its old venue at Freedom Plaza, where for nearly a decade it was run as an 8k. Construction on that course forced December’s Jingle all the Way race to shorten to 5k from its normal 8k, and Pacers Events decided instead to try a new format, with courses looping the Tidal Basin.

[button-red url=” http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=4678″ target=”_self” position=”left”] 5k Results [/button-red]For the women, Amy Laskowske won the 10k in 35:20 and said she actually enjoyed the winter weather conditions “to take your mind off the pain of the race.”

Laskowske said she enjoyed having other people around her for the racing, including another woman a pack of men behind the leaders.

“They were ticking off pretty even splits so it was nice to have people around me,” she said.

Tripp Southerland, running for Pacers, won the 5k in 15:52. The race came down to the finish, as Cabell Willis finished just one second behind him.

Southerland said the two ran together for almost the entire race. While he lead the first mile, Willis took the lead around the halfway point.

“I sat on the guy who got second for a while then, I have a pretty good kick, so I relied on my kick to pull away from him after he came up that last hill, I took it,” Southerland said. “Kind of a slow time, but the conditions are really, really not great.”

Despite the bad weather, Southerland said he didn’t encounter any slippery spots on the course, though other runners complained of issues on the painted parts of the road.

“It was kind of like freezing rain. You could hear us crushing it, but it wasn’t slick,” he said. “I was worried at the turn around, because we’re running pretty fast and then you got to do a 180 and I’ve fallen before doing that. So I was pretty careful on that turn, but no one fell.”

His next race is the Gate River Run 15k in Jacksonville, Fla., later this month.

Emily Potter won the 5k for the women, with a time of 18:12. She had had finished fourth at the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon.

For some runners, picking between the 5k and 10k proved too difficult and they chose to double up, running both races back-to-back. Jack DaSilva of Arlington was the first 10k finisher who also ran the 5k and, while he wasn’t happy with his 5k time, he said the first race set him up well to run a good 10k.

“I just warmed up for the 10k and felt great. I was hanging with the top women for a while and then I surged with another guy and just kept going and going,” he said. “It felt good, I got lucky.”

He finished both races with a combined time of 51:42 and said everyone seemed to adapt well to the difficult weather conditions.

“It was challenging. Wind, snow, slick surfaces,” he said. “Everyone out here was battling with pretty challenging conditions.”

His next race is the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon in a few weeks.

Chester Kraft also did the double and loved the scenery of running around all the monuments – though it almost wasn’t enough to get him back on the course for the second race.

“I was just trying to convince myself to still do the 10k after the 5k,” he said.

Kraft did the race in full leprechaun garb, including a blazer and bow tie.

While many complained about the weather and didn’t stick around long at the finish line, the cold didn’t bother everyone, including North Dakota native Erin Vranish who loved the wintry backdrop.

“It was a fun course and the snow coming down, it was beautiful,” she said.

Lauren Krause of Alexandria said she was afraid people would decide to skip the race because of the weather, but was excited that so many people showed up in costume and excited to run.

“I really excited to see how many people came out even though it was freezing rain, it was a really great crowd,” she said.


Thomas Foley's (left) idea of getting jolly is kicking to the finish of the Run with Santa. Photo: Cheryl Young
Thomas Foley’s (left) idea of getting jolly is kicking to the finish of the Run with Santa. Photo: Cheryl Young

Some children may still have been nestled all snug in their beds, but others dashed away Sunday morning at the Run with Santa 5k in Reston.

[button-red url=” http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.racebx.com/transfer/gen/5/4/8/54846beb-c354-43c3-b0ee-0c9fc0a86526/2014-Santa-Results.htm” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]At what many called a great family run, kids and adults alike donned Santa hats, ugly sweaters and jingle bells to be greeted by Santa Claus at the finish line on a brisk but sunny winter morning.

Runners wear base layers, hats and gloves to keep warm during winter runs, but Zoo Flynn, 43, had a more unconventional way to stay toasty: a tree skirt wrapped around her waist.

“It definitely keeps you warm, we didn’t know that last year,” said Flynn, who also wore a tree skirt to the same race last year in the show. “This year we thought we’re definitely doing the tree skirts again.”

Flynn said she is not an avid runner, but loves the run environment at the annual race.

“It’s really great seeing all the kids who are out here actually running it. It’s kind of embarrassing too because they finish before we do,” she said.

Some of those kids were Ethan Sanderson’s elf helpers: sons Evan, 11; Eric, 8; and Emmett, 5. Sanderson, a Vienna resident who dressed as Santa, decided to bring his three sons to the race in costume as a surprise to his wife, who was away on a weekend trip.

“My wife went out to Landsdowne — (on) one of those overnight Groupon deals — so we thought we’d send her Facebook pictures to surprise her,” he said.

Sanderson’s Santa costume was pretty lifelike, including a white beard and a fake gut that did more than just shake like a bowl full of jelly.

“I had to keep the arms up higher, it interrupted the normal gait. I kept having wardrobe malfunctions where the gut kept coming out,” he said.

His oldest son did the 5k with him – saying that he had to keep dragging his dad along – and the two youngest did the kid’s fun run following the race.

While some were out at the race in costume or just to have a good time and get in the holiday spirit, others ran the race competitively or were using it as a tune up for future competitions.

Ryan Hagen, of Sterling, won the race in 15:10, matching his winning time from the Reston Turkey Trot on the same course. Hagen said his plan was to go out aggressively and maintain that throughout the race.

“I kind of took it out hard and just tried to maintain that. I went out like I thought, then the third mile was straight into a pretty heavy headwind so that slowed us down a bit,” he said.

Hagen, who is the manager of the Potomac River Running store in Reston, said he recognized another local runner at the starting line who he’d been competitive with at a turkey trot and said he wanted to try to outrun him. While the two stuck together for about the first mile, Hagen took the lead the finished the final two miles alone.

“I’ve been doing a lot of training on my own so I’ve been kind of used to trying to push myself out by himself, but it is always nice to have someone there next to you,” he said.

Susanna Sullivan, who runs with Capital Area Runners, finished seventh overall and was the top female finisher in 16:57. After recovering from a stress fracture this fall, Sullivan said she was just hoping to have a good race.

“It was a fairly controlled effort, but I was happy with the time, happy to get under 17,” she said. “But we just wanted it to be a hard but controlled effort to get ready for next week.”

Both Hagen and Sullivan are competing in the USA Track and Field Club Cross Country National Championship next weekend and used Sunday’s race as a tune up.

The lead pack of men got out ahead pretty quickly, so Sullivan settled in with the chase pack on the hilly course.

“There are some decent hills in this one so I tried to be conservative early since the first mile is net uphill,” she said. “It was a challenging last mile, the last half mile is mostly uphill, so I was trying to just hang on. I didn’t know what was going on at all behind me, I really tried to focus on running my own race.”

Maureen Ball of Herndon has run the race before and likes knowing the so course well, saying that it gives her a good way to gauge how she’s doing. Ball also said she loved the race’s great swag – including a bright green tech t-shirt with Santa on it and a pin with the race’s logo.

“It’s all about the cute t-shirt,” she said.

Ball liked the variety of costumes at the race, where most participants were in some sort of holiday gear.

“You’ve got antlers, you’ve got Santas, you’ve got Mrs. Santas, you’ve got men in tutus,” Ball said. “Where else can you see that?”

While there was a sea of red and Santas around the finish line, some costumes were a little more unique. Natalie Metz, 14 of Herndon, stood out in neon green furry leg warmers and full face paint, doing impressions of the main character of her favorite movie: Jim Carrey’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

“Lots of random people came up to us,” Metz said. “Some one say that’s the girl who stole Christmas.”

She was joined by little sister Nicole Metz dressed as Cindy Lou Who and friend Sophie Barkhordari dressed as the Grinch’s pet dog, Max.

While the costumes may have been a hit among other runners, they proved a little difficult to run in. Metz said her leg warmers kept falling down during the race and Barkhordari said her dog ears almost blew off in the wind.

Still, it was worth it, as they placed second in the costume competition.

“Now we’re going to have to beat this next year,” Barkhordari said.

The top costume prize went to four women dressed as the “Baaa Humbug” sheep.

“Pinterest played a minor role in it,” said Heather Helmig of Burke. “We wanted to be something different.”

The women said they spent about six hours brainstorming the costume idea.

“We started with Bah Humbugs, we were going to be bugs. Then we morphed into sheep and went baaaaa,” said Kathy Jones. “It was a whole brainstorming process.”

The women made the costumes themselves. Each wore sheep ears and a t-shirt that said “Baaa Humbug” covered in cotton balls and rhinestones around the wrist.

For three of the women, it was their first ever 5k. The women trained with the Couch to 5k training program and finished in about 31 minutes.

Evan Woods on his way to the Maryland 4A boys state title. Photo: Scott Silverstein
Evan Woods on his way to the Maryland 4A boys state title. Photo: Scott Silverstein

Evan Woods decisively won the boys 4A Maryland cross country state championships Saturday, snapping rival Diego Zarate‘s winning streak for the season.

Woods, a senior at Walt Whitman, finished in 15:49. Eric Walz, a junior at Dulaney, took second in 15:56 with Zarate coming in third less than a second behind.

[button-red url=”http://www.motiontiming.com/node/144″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]”It’s by far the best cross country feeling I’ve ever had. The best running feeling ever,” Woods said. “It was a hard race, there are a lot of good guys in this field. They took it out hard and this is a course where it’ll beat you up in the second half.”

Last month’s Montgomery County championships saw Zarate barely edge out Woods in a photo finish. Woods said he tried not to let that affect his performance on Saturday.

“It was really hard to get prepared mentally for this race. He out-kicked me at counties and just out-gunned me at regionals, so I felt like I was a little bit hopeless,” he said. “But I came into this race just trying to put everything behind me and come at it with a fresh mindset.”

Zarate had about a five-second lead on the pack through mile two, when Woods caught up to him and thought it was time to make his move for the lead.

“That’s a hard place to be mentally where you’re way out in front and the pack catches you. So I decided that was the best time to go,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t afford to hang out them for too long or there’ll catch their breath.”

Woods and fifth-place Amir Khaghani led Whitman to a third-place finish behind Severna Park, which placed its five scoring runners in the top 11 to win the program’s third straight title; and Dulaney, winners of the Glory Days Invitational in October. Zarate’s Northwest team edged Bethesda-Chevy Chase by a single point to claim fourth place.

In another exciting race, Nick Fransham, a senior at North Harford, won the boys 3A contest in 15:41 after a couple lead changes in the last quarter mile. Fransham was in the lead as runners headed toward the finish, but David Eisenhauer, a senior at Wilde Lake, pulled ahead. It appeared Eisenhauer would win when Fransham unleashed his kick and finished less than a second ahead.

“Near the end I just had one last push, had to make things happen,” Fransham said. “I didn’t quit, I just waited him out a little bit longer and used the hill to help me with my kick.”

Eisenhauer said the two have had close finishes before in the 3200m in outdoor track state championships.

“With 800 meters to go back then I could kick for 800 meters on the track, so I took off and ended up running nine seconds faster than him. Cross country is a whole different ball game, especially on this course when you’re either going up or down a hill, so that took all the finishing speed out of me,” he said.

Both boys races went out fast. Paul Hugus, the boys coach at River Hill, said the 3A race started at a 4:55 pace, faster than the regional meet.

Albert Einstein, led by Alejandro Arias, lost third place to Mt. Hebron on a sixth-man tiebreaker.

Nora McUmber, a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase, opened up a huge lead in the last half mile and won the girls 4A race in 18:40, more than 10 seconds ahead of the Maria Coffin, the second place finisher from Annapolis. Last year, the state meet was McUmber’s only hiccup in a season that saw her go otherwise undefeated until the Nike Cross National meet.

McUmber said she and Winston Churchill’s Lucy Srour, who finished in third and led her team to third place, took turns in the lead for the beginning of the race, with McUmber moving ahead on the uphills and Srour flying in front on the downhills. McUmber was able to make her move on her second lap on the huge hill rising from “the dip,” and opened up her lead over the last half mile.

“I can’t believe it. I knew this was going to be a really hard race and I think I really prepared myself. It’s great, senior year, this is now or never,” she said. “I kept thinking this is my last chance to really get it because there isn’t a next year. It means a lot.”

Walter Johnson repeated as state champions, widening their lead on McUmber’s Barons for the second straight year, 51-91. Abbey Green‘s fourth-place finish made her the fastest freshman in the race by more than 90 seconds. Behind her, Emily Murphy (seventh), Katrione Kirsch (ninth), Kiernan Keller (15th) and Jasmine Garrett (26th) took control of the race for the Wildcats to be the only team champions from the D.C. area.

They had a target on their backs all season, which added some stress to their title defense.

“I saw they were feeling all the pressure about repeating. They weren’t having as much fun,” said coach Tom Martin. “We just concentrated from beginning of October on just having fun. When the girls starting having fun again, they started racing better.”

He pointed to a couple stand out performances among girls on the team, including Garrett and Keller, who raced with an injured hamstring.

“She did that just out of sheer guts and love for her teammates,” he said.

Many of the top finishers at Walter Johnson are underclassmen, and freshman Sadie Keller was just five seconds behind Garrett as their sixth finisher, which setting the team up to have another successful season next year where they could potentially be vying for a three-peat. Martin said he’ll do his best to keep the pressure off the athletes next year as well.

“I’ll just remind them that without the fun, this isn’t worth doing,” he said.

Urbana took the top two spots in the girls 3A race, with senior Emily Mulhern winning in 19:02 and team mate Maria Carberry, a junior, finishing about eight seconds back. Mulhern, who previously won states as a freshman and sophomore. She said those wins came much easier, and the hard work she had to put in to take the top spot this year makes this the most meaningful state title for her.

“I have had a lot of ups and downs this season. I didn’t even run at regionals because of a hamstring issue, so today I just wanted to cross the finish line healthy and happy,” she said.

The teammates ran together for much of the race, which both girls say helped them keep a competitive pace.

“Just being there with Maria, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so in sync with her before as today. We just were really feeding off each other and I could just tell we were both having great races,” she said.

Carberry said it was the first time all season both girls have had a successful race at the same time.

“I’m really glad that Emily and I ran it together because both of us haven’t had our best race together and I think this is the first time we did, so I’m really happy about that,” she said.

Both the boys and girls teams from River Hill won the team competition. Coach Earl Lauer said each runner knew what he or she had to do to help the team place, and that many ran better than expected.

“We kind of punched everyone in there and we had five in the top 25. You do that, you’re gonna be hard to beat,” he said. “I told them over a month ago, it’s yours to lose.”

He said the team has the potential to be successful in 2015, since five of their top finishers are not graduating and will run next year as well.

Albert Einstein edged Urbana for second place, 105-108, with Pauline McMurry and Ciciely Davy leading the way in 13th and 14th.

In the 2A class, Zach Gascho, a senior at Catocin, won for the boys in 16:24, helping propel his team to the top spot. Hayley Jackson, a sophomore from Patuxent, finished in 18:48. Liberty took the top team spot for girls. Poolesville finished fourth for the boys and seventh for the girls.

For 1A schools, Ty Franks, a junior from Boehmia Manor, won the boy’s race in 16:26. Katie Leisher, a senior at Manchester Valley, won in 19:42. Southern Garrett boys won the team competition, and Smithsburg was the top girls team.

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association announced realignment plans that would shift various schools, including several in the D.C. area, into new classifications and regions.


How’d They Do?

Kelly Swain, left, runs with teammate. Photo: Charlie Ban
Kelly Swain, left, runs with teammate Sarah McGonigle. Photo: Charlie Ban

Some Run Washington featured marathoners had great days Sunday at the Marine Corps Marathon, but many missed personal time goals fighting strong headwinds and battling sinus issues. Still, each said they loved the experience of seeing the crowds and crossing the finish line.

See below to check on how each runner fared.

Jenn Pellegrino

Read more about Jenn

Jenn Pellegrino had a 26.2 mile birthday party at Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon.

“I had a sign on my back that said celebrating my 30th birthday,” she said. “All along the course people were wishing me a happy birthday. It felt like a big birthday party, can’t think of a better way to celebrate that next decade.”

Pellegrino finished the race in about 4:40 and said she “had a blast.” She’s run three marathons in the past month, so went out with the intention to take it easy and just enjoy the atmosphere.

“The Marine Corps is so special, I never try to push it,” she said.

Though she has nothing on the calender officially until the Big Sur Marathon in April, she said she’ll likely sign up for a couple other marathons before the end of the year.

“That’s to be determined, but I usually don’t go more than a few weeks without running a race,” she said.

Breanna Gawrys

Read more about Breanna

Breanna Gawrys was disappointed with her race time, but enjoyed the atmosphere on the course, with crowd support and inspirational reminders of those who had died in war.

“Overall it wasn’t quite what I wanted as far as time, but it started off really great for the first 10 miles. I was staying with 3:25 pace group, but I think I went out a little too aggressively. I didn’t feel too great after the half,” she said.

While she thought having more free time to train would leave her better prepared than last year’s race, she ended up finishing in 3:45, slower than her previous year’s time.

“I felt more ready, but I hadn’t really done fast long run training. I did my long runs at comfortable pace, and one night of speed work a week. I think I need to do a little bit more tempo,” she said.

She ran in a Team Red, White and Blue t-shirt and said the crowd support from members of the military made it so she couldn’t give up, even when she struggled in the second half. One of her favorite parts of the course was the Blue Mile on Hains Point, where pictures of fallen service members line the race course.

“It’s very inspiring and very touching,” she said. “Another thing that was really cool too was people racing with and pushing handicapped children and blind guys running, it’s very cool.”

She said she’ll definitely be back at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2015. In between, she’s already signed up for the Rock ‘n Roll half, but is trying to switch to the full marathon to have another shot at qualifying for Boston.

Kelly Swain

Read more about Kelly

Kelly Swain finished the race in 3:00:55 – less than a minute off her goal of breaking three hours in her first marathon.

Despite that, she said she gave the race her all and is happy with her performance.

“I would say I definitely gave everything I had, left everything out there. I’m really happy about my time and my overall place,” she said.

She said she struggled a bit around mile 17, but got a second wind through mile 22. The last two miles, with little crowd support along the highway, were “definitely rough.”

She said she faced a lot of ups and downs throughout the race – both emotionally and physically – and while no second marathon is on her calender right now, her coach encouraged her to sign up for a flatter race, she said.

On most of the course, however, Swain said she was surprised by how many people came out to cheer on runners. Some of her favorite parts of the course were just after Rock Creek Park and around the Capitol where throngs of people lined the race course.

“Usually I wouldn’t think with such a big race or such a long race there’d be so many people, but there were people everywhere, which was amazing,” she said.

With the marathon behind her, Swain can focus on her next big event: her wedding on Friday. With only a few small logistical things to take care of before then, Swain said she plans to spend most of the week just recovering.

Jon Deitchman

Read more about Jon

Jon Deitchman loved the crowd support in his first Marine Corps Marathon. His favorite parts of the course were just after Hains Point, when spectators started lining the course again, and through the festival in Crystal City.

“With the festival they had going on, it was a really fun atmosphere. By that point, you know you’re so close it’s just beating your head,” he said.

Deitchman had hoped to break four hours, but ended up finishing in about 4:35. He said started off running with friends and had a hard time moving up around other runners at the beginning. While he may have missed his goal time, he said he was ecstatic just to have the experience of crossing the finish line.

“Everything from the opening ceremonies, it was just a blast and running was fantastic. It was a beautiful day,” he said. “I didn’t go as fast as I wanted to, but that just means next time I’ll have to do a little better. But overall, the experience in itself and just finishing was all your could really want to do.”

He said he hopes to be back out at the race next year to reach his goal time.

Jonathan Ferguson

Read more about Jonathan

Jonathan Ferguson finished Sunday’s marathon in 2:58, blaming his missed goal of 2:50 on recovering from a cold and a strong headwind both heading over the 14th Street Bridge and heading toward the finish line.

“It was not exactly as I’d hoped,” he said. “I was holding up pretty good until I got to mile 20, then I really started to fall apart around there.”

He said his cold has made him miss a few days of training this week and he still didn’t feel 100 percent well for the race.

A highlight was getting to run with a few of his former team mates from the University of Maryland.

“We sort of missed each other at the start, but when we passed each other through Rock Creek Park, it was very fun to see them,” he said.

Anthony Garofano

Read more about Anthony

Anthony Garofano finished in 4:47, missing his goal to finish under four hours. He too was fighting off a cold and taking cold medicine, so said he was overall “pretty satisfied” with his performance in his first marathon.

“The good news is I set a PR, which is easy when it’s your first marathon. The bad news is I got beat by a man in a Stay Puft Marshmallow costume.”

He was reluctant to say whether he’s planning to tackle a second marathon, saying that he’s been told to wait a week to make that decision.

“It was certainly painful, but it felt good to finish,” he said.

He said his newborn daughter, Helen, was out on the course, including just before the finish line.

“My wife brought her out and I saw them a couple times, including just before that final hill up to Marine Corps war memorial,” he said.

Jilanne Doom's expression is one of hope and joy as she approaches the turn to the five mile mark. The Washington, D.C. resident finished in 3:19:12. Photo: Charlie Ban
Jilanne Doom’s expression is one of hope and joy as she approaches the turn to the five mile mark. The Washington, D.C. resident finished in 3:19:12. Photo: Charlie Ban

While many loved the scenic course, crowd support, and near perfect weather, runners at Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon universally raved about one thing: Marine volunteers who motivated them to cross the finish line.

“The Marines are amazing,” said Addie Thompson, a 24-year-old D.C. resident. “It’s really cool to see them supporting on the sidelines and everyone is so kind at this race, I’ve never experienced a race crew that was just to kind and helpful and supportive.”

[button-red url=”http://www.marinemarathon.com/Results/MCM_Results.htm” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Thompson, who finished in under four hours, works out with November Project D.C., a group that promotes free fitness with workouts – including running the Lincoln monument stairs – all before the sun comes up. She credits her training with the group, and support from fellow group members along the course, for the improvement over her 2013 time at the race.

“I personally had a much better race,” she said. “Honestly NP has done so much for my training and the crowd, people were just planted all over and incredibly supportive. We have a really tight crew.”

Megan Clark, 34, also really thrived on the energy from those on the sidelines, saying the support from the crowd is what helped her hit her time goal at her first marathon.

“It was good, it was tough, but I think it went really well. It felt good on energy from the people,” she said. “Wonderful crowd support.”

The D.C. resident had hoped to finish in under 3:45, and ended up crossing the finish line in 3:42. While many spoke about the beautiful course passing by historic monuments, Clark said her favorite part of the course was getting Dunkin Donuts munchkins at mile 24.

While her first race was a success, Clark wasn’t sure if there’ll be another 26.2 in her future immediately after finishing.

“It’s too soon to ask. Everybody says wait until later today. Right now everything hurts.”

Whittney Hollingsworth, 50, struggled with hills at the start, saying that while she expected some hills, she wasn’t prepared enough for elevation changes at the beginning.

“I hurt from the beginning,” she said. “It wasn’t the time I was shooting for, but there was no disappointment in the time at all. I was just glad to get to that finish line.”

The 7-time marathoner from Elkmont, Ala., had a three-marathon bucket list: the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. With Sunday’s finish, she finally has completed all three and said each exceeded her expectations. Her family, who waited for her at the finish line, said the Marine Corps was the best for spectators, and Hollingsworth commented on the helpful volunteers, saying that “the Marines were wonderful.”

Paula Dubovoy, 23, broke four hours at her second marathon, where she ran for World Vision, a nonprofit that raises money to build wells for those who may not have access to clean water.

“What I love about them is they motivate people here to stay in shape and to achieve something that someone may think they would never be able to do but then there’s a greater purpose behind it as well,” the Westborough, Mass.-resident said.

Her favorite part of the course was the Marine volunteers at water stops and along the course cheering her on, while she could thank them for their service as well.

“It was just really neat seeing all the Marines and them cheering for us and thanking us and then being able to thank them as well. It’s just a cool thing, they’re thanking us and we’re thanking them,” she said.

Darjush Boushehri expected a mediocre performance, as his marathon training took a back seat to his final semester finishing up his J.D. at George Washington University. Despite that, the 33-year-old Greenbelt resident was happy with his performance at his second Marine Corps Marathon.

“My training had gone really downhill with grad school for the last month and a half, so I just decided I would stick with one of the pacing groups, 3:25. It was a hope and a dream and I came in at 3:26. That is my personal best by 22 minutes on this course,” he said. “So surprisingly well.”

He first ran the race in 2011 and came back because of the great organization and scenic course that winds by the Kennedy Center, one of his favorite parts of the course.

“It’s extremely well put together,” he said. “It’s great how it’s fairly flat overall. It has a little bit of hills to give you a little change, and seeing all the monuments of course.”

Boushehri ran Sunday for Teens Run D.C., a running group that pairs inner city kids who are interested in running any race distance with an adult mentor.

“It helps to keep them accountable, keep them in shape and give them something else to do,” he said.

He doesn’t any other races coming up before he graduates in December, but is working toward the Shamrock Whale Challenge in March, where he plans to run a 5 miler and a marathon on consecutive days, and will compete at Ironman Cozumel later in 2015.

David Rehm, of Fayetteville, Ga. bears down on the challenging 21 miles ahead as he nears the five mile mark. He finished in 3:59:01. Photo: Charlie Ban
David Rehm, of Fayetteville, Ga. bears down on the challenging 21 miles ahead as he nears the five mile mark. He finished in 3:59:01. Photo: Charlie Ban
Anthony Garofano. Photo: Melissa Dorn/Lissa Ryan Photography
Anthony Garofano. Photo: Melissa Dorn/Lissa Ryan Photography

Through the throngs of  spectators lining the Marine Corps Marathon course, Marine Maj. Anthony Garofano will have his ears open. Underneath the canopy of cheers, he’ll listen for an unmistakable sound.

“At certain points, she’ll be out there and, if she’s crying, she’ll be easy to hear,” Garofano said of his newborn daughter, Helen.

While training for his first marathon, Garofano fit in runs around a demanding schedule as an active duty judge advocate general for the Marine Corps, his commitment to organize a running club for Capitol Hill staffers and preparing to be a new dad.

In spite of all that, everything went pretty smoothly, thanks to his understanding wife, Christine, and co-workers.

“My office has been incredibly supportive the whole time and there’s only one run that I went on with my cell phone in my hand just in case I needed to stop early,” he said. “Otherwise it’s been very smooth. My runs are early enough that Chris doesn’t even know I’m going.”

Garofano was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 2004 and began serving as an active-duty service member in 2008. Through his job, Garofano ended up in charge of the Capitol Hill Running Club this year. During training season for the Marine Corps Marathon, the Marine Corps liaison office organizes the club, setting up a training plan for the race, water stops and support for the weekly long runs. Since he was coordinating training for a group of 20 to 30 Hill staffers, he figured this would be a good year to tackle the marathon himself.

“It was sort of in the back of my head — I don’t want to, but I (also do) want to run a marathon — so taking on this club was the opportunity,” he said.

The group meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings, with a long run on Saturdays.

“That doesn’t interfere with work schedule, but it ruins your Friday night a little bit,” he said. “(But) when you’re 32 and you have a baby, there’s not much Friday night left to ruin.”

Luckily, his wife understands the demands of both the club and marathon training.

“I’m really lucky to have a wife who’s so understanding about the commitment to the running and the club and who’s healthy enough to not have an issue,” he said. “This could be a lot more difficult without people being supportive.”

In addition to his time working as a fellow for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose district includes Marine base Camp Pendleton, Garofano has also served as a military prosecutor and a battalion judge advocate who deployed with the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion to southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010. While overseas, he helped the troops handle legal matters, like rules of engagement or dealing with detainees. Now, he works in the Marine Corps House liaison office, educating and informing members of Congress about the Marine Corps.

He’s had some training interruptions —missing his 18.5-mile long run the day his wife went into labor in late August, and a week to adjust to Helen’s sleeping schedule. He had to miss a few runs when traveling where it was unsafe to run, but wasn’t worried about it affecting his overall training. The weeks he’s had to miss long runs, he said he’s felt just as strong going farther the next week.

“If I missed several weeks in a row, then I’d be concerned, but missing one or two long runs doesn’t fill me with terror,” he said. “Maybe that’s ignorance.”

His travels have given him a few unforgettable runs all around the world. One of his favorites was during a trip to Guam, where he got to run along the beach. And another run in Hanoi, Vietnam, which was so humid that his watch face fogged up as soon as he stepped out of his hotel.

“It was about 6:30 in the morning; it was like the entire city was outside exercising, whether it be Tai Chi or playing badminton, or there was a muscle beach set up, with guys doing bench press and sit ups,” he said. “It was really cool to see so many people outside exercising at the same time, it was a neat community spirit thing.”

Garofano has spent years running, but is tackling long distances for the first time. He was a sprinter at Middlebury College in Vermont. Since then, he’s mostly lifted weights, gone on multi-day hikes and run just enough to pass the annual physical fitness test for the Marines.

“Every year the Marine Corps makes you run three miles to make sure you’re still in shape; that was the standard for me prior to this year,” he said.

As a result, every week’s long run is a new milestone as the farthest he’s ever run in his life.

“A lot of it has been mental,” he said. “I’ve gotten to the point if I can do 17.5 miles, I figure as long as I can keep it up I can suffer through 26.”Although Garofano has managed to fit almost everything into his weeks, one thing that has suffered has been spending time with friends, though he said they’re all understanding of the time spent running and with his new daughter.

“My friends and Chris’ friends may think we’ve abandoned them, but I think we’ve got a pretty good excuse,” he said. “The combination of running and baby has certainly reduced the amount of going out to dinner, but everyone understands.”

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2014 RunWashington.


Coaching the Big Picture

Desmond Dunham counsels his runners before the Crystal City Twilighter. Photo: Meaghan Gay/ Swim Bike Run Photography
Desmond Dunham counsels his runners before the Crystal City Twilighter. Photo: Meaghan Gay/ Swim Bike Run Photography

While many coaches are worried about their team bringing home championships, Desmond Dunham his eye on a bigger prize.

The cross country coach at Wilson High School in Washington D.C., who has been coaching for 17 years, said he measures his accomplishments by the success his athletes have later in life, once they’ve put their running shoes away.

“The true measuring stick for me is what has my program done for the kids over time: when they go to college, they go in their careers, they have their family,” he said.

Dunham, who coaches the girls cross country team as well as the co-ed track team, takes a holistic approach to coaching, focusing as much on their emotional well-being and academic performance as their achievements on the track. One of his favorite parts of coaching is to see how his athletes are able to carry the lessons learned in running over to other parts of their life.

“You have to learn to give your best even when you don’t feel your best. My athletes often hear me say you have to be willing to give 100 percent even when you don’t feel 100 percent,” he said. “I try to get them to realize that applies to everything you do in life.”

Marika Walker, a second-year PhD student in kinesiology at the University of Georgia, said the discipline she learned on Dunham’s cross country and track teams from 2004 through 2007 has gone on to help her in other aspects of her life.

“Running with him was difficult, and we achieved lot of stuff I wouldn’t have imagined before I started,” she said. “Now looking at other things, I can do a lot more than I think I can. I put more effort into all the other things that I do.”

Walker also gained some more concrete benefits from her running career on Dunham’s team: a scholarship to North Carolina State for her undergraduate education.

“Track got me through college, basically to where I am today,” she said. “I don’t know where I would’ve gone to school if I hadn’t have run for coach Dunham.”

While Walker no longer runs competitively, she continues to workout and maintain an active lifestyle.

Other athletes have benefited from Dunham’s holistic training more immediately. Despite being the new kid at school in August 2013, Julie Rakas, now a junior at Wilson, said being a member of the team made her feel right at home.

“I joined cross country when I first came here and he really made me feel included,” she said. “He really makes the whole team feel like a family almost.”

She said Dunham makes sure athletes are doing well academically, giving time off from practice to get caught up on work or visit teachers and getting permission before taking kids out of class for a competition. She also said he’s there emotionally for his athletes.

“He’s always there to talk to us. I’ve come to him with a lot of personal problems and he offers really good insight,” she said. “I feel really comfortable with him and I completely trust him.”

Dunham has overcome some of his own hurdles as well. He grew up in Gary, Ind., which he calls the “murder capital” of the country at the time. It was his own cross country coach who made sure Dunham and the other athletes learned the value of hard work and discipline – a coaching style he tries to emulate today.

“He was a father to many of us, the guys on the team,” he said. “We were able to just overcome a lot of adversities that we were facing in Gary, from the educational system to the violence, and he made running our outlet. He held us accountable no matter what the circumstances were, no matter what our backgrounds were.”

When Dunham moved to D.C. to attend Howard University, he volunteered with a local running program before getting a gig coaching for St. Gabriel’s Catholic School while working on his master’s. He coached at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt and the University of Maryland, in addition to coaching a junior olympic running team, before taking a job at Woodrow Wilson High School in 2012.

“The ability for me to be able to put a smile on a child’s face through the sport of cross country and track and field, it was the most rewarding experience that I had as a person,” he said. “I’ve always felt like after my first year of coaching that it was not only my passion but I also had a purpose in it as well.”

Dunham was so devoted to his athletes that he and his wife dipped into their own bank account to ensure all athletes on his junior olympics team, regardless of their economic background, could participate and travel with the team.

“We used to give all of our money to making sure kids could travel and have the same experience as everyone else,” he said. “There was a time when our utilities were being cut off so we could make sure we gave every single kid in our program the same experiences.”

In addition to coaching, running all three seasons and working full-time as a physical education teacher at Wilson, Dunham also coaches his own two kids in a variety of sports from baseball to basketball to tennis. He also is a board member at Capital City Little League.

“Somehow we manage everything,” he said, noting that he couldn’t do it without his “awesome wife.” “We try to keep a balance where we make sure if we do have busy weeks, we try to culminate the week making sure there’s a focus on our kids to make sure we’re still in tune with them.”

On top of everything, Dunham is involved with the D.C. Cross Country Project, an initiative with Pacers to increase participation across the city, improve programs at schools and increase awareness of the sport. He said he is excited to be part of an organization that lets him help even more young athletes succeed.

“I could do great things within my program to help a good amount of kids, but if I can be involved with something on a much larger scale, it’s definitely way more fulfilling to be able to help the masses to be able to have the experiences I once had,” he said.

Dunham still manages to find time to log about 30 to 40 miles a week, as much for the physical benefit as the emotional release.

“After finishing a run,” he said, “I feel like I shed so many pounds of stress.”

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2014 RunWashington.


Subscribe to our mailing list