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Loudoun Valley junior Ricky Fetterolf. Photo: Ed Lull

Marc Hunter has been around runners long enough to know that even with the benefit of a meritocracy, seniority can often dominate in a team dynamic. That’s why he was surprised to hear then-freshman Ricky Fetterolf say something at a Loudoun Valley team meeting two years ago.

“It was gutsy, because we had a top-heavy team and it’s understandable for a freshman to just sit back and listen,” he said. “We had a top-heavy team, with a lot of seniors, but she voiced her opinion and I respected that about her. So did a lot of the girls.”

Fetterolf didn’t even remember what she had to say. What was more important to her was letting the rest of the team know she would have things to say, albeit somewhat sparingly. She wanted her hands on the wheel as the team moved ahead.

“I don’t talk that much, but if it’s something I value, I will speak up about it,” she said. “I’d rather lead by example.”

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Hiruni Wijayaratne (in orange shorts) grabs her water bottle during the 2019 World Championship Marathon. Photo: Ceylon Athletics

When Hiruni Wijayaratne toed the start line of the women’s marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Doha, Qatar, it was just before midnight, but the heat and humidity were almost unbearable.

Had it been any other race it may have been a reason for a DNS. But Wijayaratne — a Herndon alumna now running for her native Sri Lanka — knew Doha was part of her path to the Olympics, a goal she had set her sights on back in 2016. She had to try.

Wijayaratne said she knew from the moment she landed in Qatar that it was going to be a tougher race than she, or anyone else, had expected.  Read More

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Elvin Kibet trails Patrick Koskey in the fifth mile of the Army Ten-Miler. Photo: Dustin Whitlow

Army Spec. Elvin Kibet did in her first try what her husband, Olympic 10k runner Shadrack Kipchirchir, couldn’t in three — win the Army Ten-Miler.

And thanks to cool weather that was a treat to runners who had suffered through the last two muggy editions, she broke Kerri Gallagher’s event record, running 54:05 to Gallagher’s 54:50 from 2014 on a course that was altered last year to avoid the deteriorating Arlington Memorial Bridge. She and men’s winner Lawi Lalang (48:38) are both members of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. They were also college teammates at the University of Arizona.

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Loudoun Valley senior Kellen Hasle. Photo: Ed Lull

The eternal struggle shook the Hasle household. Teenaged Kellen wanted to stay in bed, his mom wanted the exact opposite, the summer after he finished eighth grade.

He could have fruitlessly made the excuse that he was still living in Alaska Time years after the family moved to Virginia, but those pleas would have fallen on deaf ears.

Mrs. Hasle signed Kellen up for Loudoun Valley’s cross country team. What she thought would have gotten him some exercise initially gave him more of an appreciation for the outdoors.

“There’s this path called the nature trail, where a lot of the less dedicated runners would go,” he said. “I spent a lot of my freshman year there.”

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Loudoun Valley sophomore Ava Gordon. Photo: Ed Lull

Things were going quite well for Ava Gordon during her freshman year at Rock Ridge High School. She was the top freshman in Virginia’s 5A division, finishing fourth at the state meet and 15th at Nike Cross Southeast. She liked her coach and her teammates and running around Ashburn.

The problem was, other people were coming to like Ashburn, too. The population growth was forcing the Loudoun County School District to expand, adding Independence High School. That meant students eastern Loudoun County would be redistributed among Rock Ridge, Independence and Briar Woods. At the same time, her family decided it was time for Ava’s grandmother to move in, and that would mean needing more room of their own. So the Gordons headed west, and Ava and her older sister Alex.

“It was something we had been talking about doing for a while, but the timing wasn’t right,” Dan Gordon said. “We were going to have Alex at Rock Ridge, Ava was going to be moved to Briar Woods. We just wanted to reset everything, have everyone at the same school, everyone in the house and finally make that move.”

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Clockwise from top left: Ashley Davidson chats with a Westfield runner during the 2016 DCXC Invitational. Dickson Mercer interviews Matt Llano after the 2013 USATF 12k Championships, Kelyn Soong consults with Meb Keflezighi after the 2017 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, and Charlie Ban hears from Rich Mendelowitz after the 2015 Army Ten-Miler.

A lot of hardworking journalists put together RunWashington, all on top of their full-time jobs. Meet a few of them, learn a little bit about their personalities and read some of their best work.

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Running Shorts

Quince Orchard alumnus Liam Walsh. Photo: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University
  • Heritage alumna Weini Kelati was named USATFCCCA Division I National Athlete of the Week for her win at the Joe Paine Invitational Oct. 4. She runs for the University of New Mexico.
  • George Washington University freshman James Glockenmeier was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for finish as the top freshman in his race at the Paul Short Run.
  • Liam Walsh, a 2016 Quince Orchard alumnus, was named University Athletic Association Cross Country Athlete of the Week Sept. 17. He led Carnegie Mellon to victory at the Allegheny College Classic, taking first place overall.
  • Georgetown alumna Rachel Schneider competed in the preliminary heat of the 5,000 meters at the IAAF World Championships. Georgetown alumnus Amos Bartelsmeyer, running for Germany, advanced to the 1,500 meter semifinals.
  • The Army Ten-Miler is Sunday, Oct. 13. If you don’t have a bib, don’t run in someone else’s.
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Elise Abbe, on her way to second place at the 2018 Third Battle Invitational. Photo: Charlie Ban

She already went through the trouble of doing the training. Coming to the meet. Warming up.

As long as she’s there, Elise Abbe might as well run really, really hard.

It took her the better part of three cross country seasons, but she figured out that putting herself out there in a race wasn’t going to kill her.

“A lot of people are scared to race, that it’s going to hurt,” she said. “I go into my races excited that I have a chance to push myself, so I want to find out how fast I can go.”

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Running Shorts

  • Keira D’Amato, an alumna of Oakton High School and American University, was the fifth American woman across the finish line at the Berlin Marathon, running 2:34:55.
  • Sara Freix, a Westfield High School alumna, was named Virginia Tech Athlete of the Week after winning the Hokie Alumni Race.
  • Heather Delplaine, a Damascus High School alumna, was named the Capital Athletic Conference’s Athlete of the Week for her second place finish, for Salisbury University, at the Hornet Harrier Invitational. The University of Mary Washington’s Jeff Gibson, an Edison alumnus, was Capital Athletic Conference’s Athlete of the Week following his victory at the same race.
  • Catholic University’s Alex Filiault and John O’Rourke were named Landmark Conference Athletes of the Week, also for their races at the Hornet Harrier Invitational.
  • Quamel Prince and DuVal High School alumnus Edose Ibadin, both members of the District Track Club, competed in the preliminary heats at the IAAF World Championships in the 800 meters. They represented Guyana and Nigeria, respectively.
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Daniel O’Brien leads Luke Tewalt and Albert Velikonja during the second mile of the DCXC Invitational senior race. Photo: Dustin Whitlow

There’s apparently a second layer to astrology that goes beyond newspaper horoscopes. According to my coworker, what time of day you were born adds a tint of good or bad fortune. For runners at the DCXC Invitational, what time of day they started their race made all the difference.  

That’s because cloud cover alternated from race to race, providing much-needed relief from heat that reached the upper 80s throughout the afternoon, while also surprising some runners when they got on the starting line, thinking the hot part of the day was behind them. Those varying conditions just hammered home that the races, divided among graduating class, existed separately of each other. The format also gives runners a chance to race against their peers only, offering each class a chance in the spotlight. That did some favors for the seniors, whose races had the most comfortable temperatures irrespective of cloud cover.

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