Turkey trots abound Thursday

The D.C. area will offer plenty of opportunities to join the biggest road racing day of the year. In 2019, these races combined for 22,863 finishers:

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The two-point loss at the 2019 D.C. cross country championships gnawed at the St. John’s boys team. They had closed the gap on Gonzaga from the WCAC Championships a week prior, but they still had cause for optimism. Most of the runners were underclassmen, and they could start looking ahead to the next fall.

Then the next cross country season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all but one of those boys graduated or didn’t return two seasons later. It would be up to senior Nicolas Grabarz to exact his revenge.

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Two local college teams and a variety of other local runners won individual honors at college conference cross country meets last weekend.

Georgetown won its second straight Big East title in Indiana George Washington University’s women won their first Atlantic 10 Cross Country title Saturday in Ohio. Georgetown’s Maggie Donahue won the Big East individual championship, George Mason’s Annabelle Eastman won the Atlantic 10 individual championship and John Champe alumna Bethany Graham, running for Furman, won the Southern Conference individual championship.

Josh Fry, a Bethesda-Chevy Chase alumnus won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference individual tile, running for Colorado College and Logan Funk, a George Mason/Meridian alumna now at Christopher Newport, was the Coast-to-Coast Conference champion. Gonzaga alumnus Cullen Capuano, a sophmore at Washington University in St. Louis won the University Athletic Association’s rookie of the year.

GW had all four scoring runners – Margaret Coogan (2), Peri Pavicic (6), Kathryn Nohilly (10), Olivia Syftestad (15) and Julia Dempsy (17) – finish in the top 20 to score 50 points to host Dayton’s 75. Eastman, second in the spring’s conference meet, ran 17:24, ahead of Coogan’s 17:31 and led the Mason women to a fifth place finish. George Mason’s Jack Ikenberry finished second in 24:43 to Richmond’s Peter Borger’s 24:35 to lead Mason to a third place finish. James Glockenmeier (fifth place) led the GW men to a seventh place finish.

Donahue won the Big East title 20:47-20:49 over Villanova’s Lydia Olivere, the first of four Georgetown scorers –  Sami Corman (6), West Springfield alumna Kiera Bothwell (10) and Baylee Jones (13) in the top 15, with Katie Dammer finishing 35th. Jack Salisbury (6) led the way for the Hoyas, who swept places 10-13, but lost 35-52 to host Butler.

Howard had two second place finshes at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, led by Joslyn Crosby (3) and Gavin Williams (4). Howard also had top locals finishing 11th: Walt Whitman’s Breanna McDonald and Bowie’s Tafari Stephenson. Catholic’s men finished third John O’Rourke’s runner-up finish and their women finished sixth, led by Paige Wilderotter. Maryland’s women finished 14th at the Big 10 Championships, with Lake Braddock alumna Sarah Daniels leading the way for local finishers in 95th place.

American finished eighth on the men’s side and 10th on the women’s at the Patriot League Championships, led by Russell Sullivan (39th) and Emily Neuner (67th). Bowie State’s men finished second at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championships, led by Shane Massey in fifth, and ninth in the women’s race, led by Central’s Heaven Jenkins in 40th place. UDC’s women finished fifth at the East Coast Conference Championships, paced by Kamille Dixon’s 12th place finish.

Both Marymount teams  finished fifth at the Atlantic East Conference Championships, led by Jules Lemmon in sixth and Hayfield alumnus Matthew Zirkle in 30th.

Outside of the D.C. area, Richard Montgomery alumnus Rohann Asfaw, running for Virginia, finished 13th at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships and George Marshall alumna Heather Holt, running for N.C. State, finished 17th.

Patriot’s Rachel McArthur finished fifth at the Pacific 12 Championships, running for Colorado.

At the Ivy League Championships, Bethesda-Chevy Chase alumna Zoe Nuechterlein, running for Yale, was sixth and Yorktown alumnus Albert Velikonja was 28th for Dartmouth.

William and Mary runners led local finishers at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships, with runner-up Sam Pritchard from West Springfield and Loudoun Valley alumna Kyra Holland (14).

Northwood had two UMBD runners lead locals at the America East Championshos – Fantaw finishing 39th Madison Armonda in 40th.

Woodson’s Tyler French was 49th at the Patriot League Championship for Lehigh

East Carolina had two runners leading local finishers at the American Athletic Conference Championships – Patriot alumna Linsay Yentz (27th) and Herndon alumnus Colin McCauley (35th).

James Madison’s Rachel Shoemaker, running for Rice, was 27th at the Conference USA Championships.

Loudoun Valley alumnus Jeremiah Mussman was 38th for Liberty at the Atlantic Sun Championships. Forest Park alumnus Zach Diller was 68th at the Southern Conference Championship, running for VMI.

Saint Sebastian Academy alumna Anne Akagi finished 12th at the Big South Championships for Charleston Southern and Loudoun Valley alumnus Ben Goulet was 62nd for Longwood.

George Mason alumnus Ryan Henderson, running for Christopher Newport, was second at the Coast-to-Coast Championships. Bethesda-Chevy Chase alumnus Adam Nakasaka was seventh at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships. Gonzaga alumuns Gavin McElhennon  was 10th at the Centennial Conference Championships, running for Johns Hopkins.

I’m sure I missed somone. I’m sorry.

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  • A total of 346 local runners finished the Boston Marathon.
  • Reston’s Susanna Sullivan finished as the fourth American at the Boston Marathon, running 2:33:22.
  • D.C.’s Nathan Bickell, an Annapolis native, was the fastest local runner in 2:29:54.
  • Silver Spring’s Jordan Tropf, who won the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon, finished his third marathon in three days, running 2:27:22 at the Baltimore Marathon, 2:31:54 at the Chicago Marathon and 2:32:13 in Boston, after driving to Detroit from Chicago after his first flight to Boston was canceled.
  • Bethesda’s Ben Beach extended his Boston Marathon record for consecutive finishes at 54.
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Running Shorts

  • The new dual trail portion of the W&OD Trail is open in Falls Church, nearly 1.5 miles of trail from Little Falls Street to North West Street. The altered section of trail features an 11-foot-wide path for cycling, an 8-foot-wide path for walkers, and a 2-foot-wide colored and textured median between the two paths to separate trail users traveling at different speeds.

  • Powerline work by Dominion Energy along the W&OD Trail in Ashburn will require a five-mile detour Oct. 18 – 22, with a chance it could take up to a week longer.
  • The Richmond Marathon, seen as Marine Corps fallback option, has sold out, though the race plans to expand the field somewhat.
  • The Montgomery County Planning Board will review and provide advisory comments to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation on the Capital Crescent Surface Trail and Tunnel on Oct. 14. Sign up to testify and send in comments.

  • The Road Runners Club of America will hold its 2022 one mile national championship at the Loudoun Street Mile May 30 in Winchester, Va.
  • Oakton and American alumna Keira D’Amato finished fourth at the Chicago Marathon.
  • Herndon alumna Hiruni Wijayaratne was a guest on the Run Eat Sleep Show.
  • Arlington resident and former Georgetown coach Julie Culley was a guest on the I’ll Have Another podcast.
  • Sidwell Friends alumna Taylor Knibb was a guest on the Inside Tri podcast.
  • Knibb will participate in a DC Triathlon Club discussion Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. Register here
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It may have taken nearly 18 months, but marathon runners are returning to Boston this weekend for the delayed 125th Boston Marathon, including upwards of 417 local runners.

The elite field will include two locals and three others who have been among RunWashington’s Trials Fever marathoners who ran in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials and have ties to D.C. area. Woodbridge native Alex Taylor, University of Maryland alumnus Patrick Reaves and Howard County native Brian Harvey are in the men’s elite field Reston’s Susanna Sullivan, fresh off a 1:10:50 half marathon in late September looks to lead the local women, with Alexandria’s Bethany Sachtleben and Arlington’s Nina Zarina also in the race

“I’ve always wanted to run Boston, and I wanted to do it when I could be part of the elite field. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon,” Sullivan said. “It’s not nessarily a PR course, but I think with my fitness right now, it’s realistic to expect that if I execute well, I should PR.”

Sullivan had considered the New York City Marathon, but thought an early November race would extend her season beyond her comfort level.

“I was eager to get going this spring, so I’ve been training for a while,” she said.

And running for a while. In her previous marathon buildups, she had only recorded two 100-mile weeks. This time, she’s done at least eight.

“I’ve been racing on somewhat-tired legs all year, so I’m not sure how to approach my taper,” she said. “I thrive when I stick to a routine.”

Sullivan ran 2:33:27 at the Marathon Project last December in Arizona, and also set PRs in the track 10k (32:42.28), road 10k (33:02) and 10 miles (54:22) since working with George Mason University coach Andrew Gerard a year ago.

Here’s who else is registered for Boston, though not everyone will race:

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In her first full season of high school cross country racing, Grace Finnegan is trying to balance her early success with recognition that she still has a lot to learn.

After a few open races during her freshman year at Richard Montgomery, she’s facing new runners every week and trying to pick up tips and process each experience.

“I was trying to read everyone else’s energy,” she said. “It’s a skill I’m still learning.”

She figured it out at the Octoberfest Invitational at Great Meadow, running 17:59 to win over Herndon junior Gillian Bushee (18:14) and hit her first sub-18 cross country 5k.

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Avery Graham didn’t even recognize a fellow Montgomery County runner at the Oatlands Invitational, where she finished three seconds behind Poolesville sophomore Daisy Dastrup.

When Graham, a Sherwood freshman, saw her two weeks later at the Georgetown Prep Invitational, she restructured her goals for the race.

“I wanted to stay with her no matter what,” Graham said. “There were a few times I fell back a little, but I just kept running until I caught back up.”

Graham held on behind Dastrup until roughly 150 meters to go before kicking for a 19:55-19:57 win in the unseeded race.

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More than 600,000 white flags have filled part of the Washington Monument lawn in late September, a temporary art installation memorializing and visualizing the American death toll from COVID-19. Anyone practicing the 18th mile of the Marine Corps Marathon course run nearby, and the juxtaposition became unavoidable when the race announced its second straight cancelation.

Citing safety and security precautions, Marine Corps canceled the Oct. 31 in-person marathon, 50k and 10k on Sept. 24, 11 days after the Army Ten-Miler canceled its Oct. 10 race. After the Army cancelation, Marine Corps race director Rick Nealis said he felt good about his race’s logistics to reduce crowding by runners before, during and after the race, including a vaccination requirement, but the linchpin was the support staff’s availability. Nealis had been confident enough in the race’s outlook that he had executed nonrefundable supply contracts for the race.

“It came down to the federal workforce and the national priority of defeating COVID-19,” Nealis said. “I draw my workforce from the Marine bases in the National Capital Region, and we’ve had some uptick in case positivity recently. Looking out 30 days, the feeling was that we probably aren’t going in the right direction.”

The U.S. Marine Corps is working toward a Nov. 28 deadline for COVID vaccinations, and Nealis said earlier in September that the availability of Marines to work the race was a significant variable, but one he hoped would be mollified by vaccination efforts.

In addition, conducting the race requires hundreds of law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, and Nealis said it was a tough sell to divert them to support the race and potentially expose them to the coronavirus.

“Everybody has their own opinion or definitely of ‘safe,’ but in the end, the Marine Corps Marathon has to look at the debate over keeping 9,000 runners safe, the Marines safe and the support staff safe,” Nealis said.

The race will offer full refunds, deferrals to the 2022 race and cover any price increase or a transfer to the virtual race and a refund for the difference.

A 2013 study by Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute charted the race’s economic impact at $88 million throughout the Washington, D.C. area, with $59.7 million spent in Arlington County. The 2021 race was planned to be much smaller, with roughly 9,000 runners entered among three races, compared to nearly 31,000 finishers in 2013’s marathon and 10k.

D.C.’s John Camarillo was left looking for a contingency marathon after running his first effort virtually in the 2020 Marine Corps Marathon. He completed his run in heavy rains on Oct. 25, running solo around the National Mall and Mount Vernon Trail, with fluid and vocal support from his wife.

“I was really hoping it would go off as planned,” he said. “I was really looking forward to running an actual time,” with a goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Camarillo soon found the Mayflower Wind Cape Cod Marathon, also scheduled for Oct. 31, which will allow him to stay on his training schedule.

Arlington’s Emily Hart, who also ran her first marathon virtually in 2020, is deciding between running her race Oct. 16 or just running 26.2 miles tomorrow in lieu of her planned 20-mile training run.

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Update: The Marine Corps Marathon races were canceled on Sept. 24.


Despite last week’s cancelation of the Army Ten-Miler’s Oct. 10 in-person race, Marine Corps Marathon race director Rick Nealis believes his Oct. 31 race is ready to go off as planned. 

The key to Nealis’ hopes is a waiver from the Department of Defense that will allow the race to assemble groups of 250, 10 times more than current COVID-19 mitigation policy on the Pentagon grounds. The race uses the Pentagon as a staging area and “runners’ village” before moving to the start on Virginia’s Route 110. There, the race will be free to arrange runners in whatever size starting wave it wishes.

“I think the measures we provided met the spirit of covid mitigation safety,” he said. “We did our homework for this back in May based on Arlington County’s guidance at the time, and I think the whole process has been pretty reasonable.”

Though Nealis acknowledged that canceling the pre-race expo and pasta dinner would detract somewhat from the race weekend experience and camaraderie, it would be a small price to pay.

“If we had to give up indoor events to keep the race, that’s an easy decision,” he said. “We’ll mail everything out in early October, well before anyone starts driving or gets on a plane to come to the race.”

The smaller in-person field size, with roughly 9,000 entrants, will also be a price to pay for having a race at all.

“We knew we couldn’t have 30,000 person race, but we didn’t want a 30,000 person race,” Nealis said. “This makes it all feasible.”

The race will require masks while on Pentagon grounds and before the start, but new masks will be supplied at the finish line and required at the US Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington and will be suggested in Rosslyn 

Nealis did not expect much resistance to the race’s vaccination requirement, but said any objectors will be free to choose a deferral to 2023– when he anticipated not needing vaccine requirement–the virtual race or a refund.

“If you love the sport, you’ll know it’s time to follow the rules,” he said.  “Take it easy on race management, we’re trying to make things happen, here.”

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