Sebastian Grund had two surprises as he neared the Pittsburgh Marathon finish line. One was that he hadn’t hit “the wall” late in the race. The other was a sign.

“If you finish, I’ll marry you.”

To splash some cold water on any romantic tension, he and Katharina Bergant were already planning to get married, so it wasn’t a finish line proposal. Plus, after a half-hour deluge in the middle of the marathon, Grund had already felt plenty of cold water against his face.

But it was still a thrill for him to come down the last mile and see her.

“I expected the last three miles to be the hardest, but there were more and more spectators, and then I saw Katarina with that funny sign,” he said.

Meanwhile, as she waited for Grund, Bergant had to fend off some interest.

“Two ladies stopped me and asked if the sign was for anyone specific because they had sons who were running their first marathon and were about to finish,” she said.

While Grund had mused about wanting some motivation, Bergant’s inspiration struck the night before the race. She and the couples’ friends left him asleep in their hotel room and retreated to the roof with some supplies they bought.

She crafted her message in red and white, matching the couple’s native Austrian flag.

The next morning, while Grund worked his way through the rain and the puddles on his way to a 3:09:51 finish, Bergant and their friends lounged in the hotel before coming out to the finish.

“I sent him off in his beautiful trash bag poncho and I went back to sleep for two hours,” she said.

Though they weren’t able to get around the course to see Grund as much as they’d hoped, everyone came away with the results they wanted.

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  • Heritage alumna Weini Kelati ran a world championship standard in the 10,000 meters at Sound Running’s Track Meet in Orange County, Calif. last weekend. Her 31:11.11 met the 31:25.00 qualifying time.
  • Local distance runners scored some wins at collegiate track champhionships (and one likely would have won, if not for her teammate):

Atlantic 10 (Division I)
1,500m
1. Ryan Fowkes George Washington 3:55.33

3k steeplechase
1. Logan Broedner George Washington 9:08.53

1.Kathryn Nohilly George Washington 10:33.01
2.Margaret Coogan  George Washington 10:33.89

5,000m
1. Jack Ikenberry George Mason 14:08.79

Coast to Coast (Division III)
800m
1.Daniel Ferrante Christopher Newport (Fairfax Christian) 1:53.65

1.Heather Delaplaine Salisbury (Damascus) 2:19.86

1,500m
1.Daniel Ferrante Christopher Newport (Fairfax Christian) 3:52.47

1.Logan Funk Christopher Newport (Meridian/George Mason HS) 4:42.81

Centennial (Division III)
10k
1.Gavin McElhennon Johns Hopkins (Gonzaga) 30:28.89

1.Katie Hirsche Haverford (Burke) 37:45.01

University Athletic Association (Division III)
10k
1.Cullen Capuano Washington (Gonzaga) 32:10.66

 

 

 

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Running Shorts

 

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The National Park Service is proposing three alternatives for one of the two lanes wrapping around East Potomac Park, reserving one lane for cars and one split for pedestrians and cyclists. None of the alternatives offer protection beyond a two-or-three-foot buffer. NPS will accept written comments through 11:59 p.m. MT May 19 at this link.

Currently E. Ohio Drive wraps around East Potomac Park with two 10 foot lanes, with traffice designed to flow clockwise and cyclists generally riding clockwise, too, on the inside lane. Runners generally do what they will, but most tend to travel counterclockwise to face oncoming traffic. A public meeting from 5:00-6:30 p.m. April 19 will elaborate on the plan. Join here.

You can see detailed diagrams of the following alternatives here. All options would direct drivers and cyclists clockwise while allowing pedestrians to travel either way:

  • One option reduces the car lane to 9 feet, creates a five-foot bike lane, with a two-foot buffer to a four-foot pedestrian lane.
  • Another option places a three-foot buffer between the nine-foot car lane and a four-foot bike lane and a four-foot pedestrian lane.
  • A third option puts a pedestrian lane on the outside, with a two-foot buffer from a nine-foot car lane, with a five-foot bike lane on the inside.
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Washington, D.C.’s Maria Lanholz ran 2:43:25 at the Boston Marathon to place 39th and first among local women, while Silver Spring’s Jordan Tropf, who last year ran Boston as his third marathon in three days, benefited from the rest and ran 2:24:44 for 47th place, the top local man.

Pleasant weather was tempered by a consistent headwind, which, as you might expect, can have a deleterious effect on running performance, particularly on a point-to-point course.

The D.C. area saw 474 finishers, with 217 women and 257 men. With his 2:52:55, Cabin John’s Chris Bain most likely tied a record for consecutive sub-three-hour marathons at Boston – 24 – a record he likely shares with Bethesda’s Ben Beach, between 1972-1995.  Beach, whose 54 consecutive Bostons set a record last fall, did not race after suffering injuries in a February bike crash. And a detail that may only interest me, Leesburg’s Ashley Harper, with her 3:33:35, was our closest runner to run straight twos, threes, fours or fives.

This list of finishers is contingent on the addresses runners supplied while registering.

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Ben Beach runs the 2021 Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy of Beach

The last time Ben Beach was around for a Boston Marathon broadcast, on the radio, Lyndon Johnson was president and Beach was a high school student. The next year he ran, and has kept that up for the last 54 years, setting the race’s record for consecutive finishes. 

That’s where the record will end. This Monday, Beach, 72, will be watching, likely from home in Bethesda. After a late February bike crash left him with a broken neck, a five-week recovery period and seven weeks to go until race day, he decided last week that a two-week buildup was not going to set him up for success. 

“I just thought this is a fool’s errand, and as much as I care about that streak and how the race has been part of my existance since I was 18 years old, I just thought it was stupid and and unfair to my family,” he said. “My family has been very patient over the years. For the last 10 years, they’ve just sort of held their collective breath as I push it a little too far.”

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Reston’s Susanna Sullivan has run the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile frequently enough to know the course extremely well, but she didn’t get the home field advantage she really wanted.

While leading the race in the second half, she had her eyes trained on the press truck ahead of her, watching her Capital Area Runners teammate Eva Greenberg, looking for some kind of feedback or indication of how strong her lead was. But Greenberg, working as a press assistant for the race, didn’t betray her professional responsibilities and gave Sullivan nothing back.

“It was very quiet on Hains Point, so it was hard to figure out what was happening around me,” she said. “Usually, you can gauge by how people are cheering, but there was none of that. There were a few people clapping here or there, but they never gave me any intel on what kind of lead I had.”

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Join Pacers Running and Brooks for a virtual panel discussion, Leading Through Change: How Women Can Thrive During Difficult Times Through the Power of Running and the Community. During this live event we will be joined by women leaders and athletes spanning the running, health and wellness, and non-alcoholic craft brewing industries. The webinar starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30. Register here.

Moderator

  • Kathy Dalby, CEO, Pacers Running

Panelists

  • Adina Crawford, yoga instructor, Deanie the Yogini
  • Lisa Reeves, chief of staff and event director for Pacers Running
  • Michelle Klinger, national activations manager, Athletic Brewing Company
  • Marta Pen Freitas, two-time Olympian for Portugal, Brooks Running
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