The starting line was crowded when George Mason showed up for the cross country conference meet this fall, especially for the men.
Instead of facing off against four other teams, the scene at the last Colonial Athletic Association meet, the Patriots were one of 13 teams in the Atlantic 10. The women had previously competed in a pool of eight teams. In their first year in the A-10, the Mason men finished third and the women eighth, with Bethany Sachtleben winning the overall women’s title. Longtime conference member George Washington finished 11th in the men’s race and didn’t score in the women’s race after a runner dropped out with an injury.
“There’s a lot more depth in the A-10,” said Patriots coach Andrew Gerard. “For a few years, the CAA has been a dual meet between us and William and Mary, and that got old after a while. Now we have some new faces, new teams to compete against. We always want to have our best races at championship meets, so now we have a new challenge.”
The men’s field in the CAA has atrophied as James Madison and Delaware cut men’s programs and Virginia Commonwealth and Georgia State left the conference.
Early leader Michael Conway (11th, 24:22) and John Holt (14th, 24:27) led the way with all-conference awards at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Va., but Wil McRenolds (23rd, 24:43) Alex Ott (24th, 24:44) and Craig Morgan (25th, 24:45) all broke 25 minutes over 8k for the first time, closing the team’s scoring and locking the Patriots in with 97 points behind La Salle (27) and St. Joseph’s (75).
The men sported 10 finishers, a far cry from August 2008 when Gerard arrived with three distance runners on the roster.
“We’re light years ahead of where we were then,” he said. “Now we’re consistently getting looks from kids who can run 9:20 for two miles. We’ve been doing most of this work with home-grown kids, and that’s what’s been exciting — watching them develop.”
One such runner was formerly-home schooled Sachtleben. Having led the Patriots throughout her entire first year, she found herself in the middle of a sophomore slump.
“I think I came back a little complacent,” she said. “My first three races, I felt like I shouldn’t be hurting that much, I didn’t want to push it, so this race was the time I wanted to leave everything out there, because the pain would be nothing compared to what I’d feel after the race was over and I’d cross the line in first.”
As the pack meandered through the first mile on slightly rolling but hard ground, she was comfortable and a few rows back from the lead.
“I felt like I was jogging, but had to stay patient because someone was going make a move any time,” she said.
That someone was Richmond senior Jill Prentice, who won the 2011 conference title and saw the Pole Green course with relative familiarity.
“I went with her and decided to wait until she tired out and make my move then,” she said. “It happened right before the second mile mark and I just went for it. I didn’t know if she’d have anything left at the end, and I didn’t feel safe until the last bend.”
She cruised to an eight-second margin in 16:54.
“She’s gained a lot mentally this season over last,” Gerard said. “Last year, she’d do anything in a race, do it well and take it at face value. Now she has something to look back on and compare it to. It’s better than being a blank slate.”
He also commented that the 5k distance put her at a disadvantage, because she tends more toward long races. She qualified for the first round of the NCAA outdoor track championships last spring in the 10k.
“We’d be much happier if this was an 8k or 10k for her,” he said. “Sometimes these shorter, faster races exposes her to some shortcomings.”
With a hilly 6k coming up Nov. 15 in Charlottesville, Sachtleben isn’t ready to move too far up in distance just yet. But she isn’t the only long distance specialist at GMU. Holt finished third last spring at the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon, running 1:08:20.
“John had been putting in 130 miles for five weeks and he really thrives off of that, though you couldn’t tell by looking at this body type,” Gerard said. “He built that up over a long time and we figured it would be a good challenge for him to put that to the test.”
Ansley Howell seems ready for a real pair of running shoes. The 8-year-old from South Riding – running with tiny American flags behind her ears – was third in her age group this morning at the third annual Let Freedom Run 5k in Fairfax.
[button-red url=”http://results.bazumedia.com/event/results/event/event-4601″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Howell was paced by her father, Gregg, while her sister, Grace, 12, was paced by her mother, Ann. Her older brother, Noah, 14, who runs cross country for Freedom High School – “too fast for the rest of the family,” Gregg said – was on his own, finishing around 20 minutes.
“We do a lot of 5Ks together,” Gregg said. “My wife and I have done marathons, and our two older ones are running cross country, so running is a big part of our lives.”
The Howell family were among 1,304 finishers. And on Independence Day, a holiday generally filled with relaxing, trips to the pool, cookouts, and fireworks, Gregg said they could think of no better way to start the day.
“We just wanted to do something together,” Gregg said, “and [running a race] is the first thing that comes to mind for us.”
Same for Dixon Hemphill of Fairfax Station, and his son and grandson, Peter and Joshua, who live in Centreville. You kick off a long weekend with a race – a sense of accomplishment – and from there everything else just falls into place.
“We’ll go out to breakfast,” Peter said, “that’s the first thing we’ll do. Then we’ll go home, take a shower, relax.”
Dixon started running at 50, he said, and has been at it for close to four decades. He has been running races with his son for many years, and now the tradition is being passed on to Joshua, who this morning finished his fourth 5k at a time of about 35 minutes with his dad at his side. Peter, special for the nation’s birthday, sported a pair of Texas-themed red, white, and blue racing shorts.
In the lead packs – on an overcast, humid morning – the defending champs were back to defend their titles, with Jordan McDougal aiming for a three-peat.
McDougal, of Linden, Va., ran his best time yet for this race, 15:43, but had to settle for second to Paul Thistle, 26, of D.C., who won in 15:30.
The top four places on the men’s side were all under last year’s winning time of 16:06. The top master, Rockville’sJean–Christ Arcaz, came through in 18:03.
On the women’s side, last year’s winner, Manassas’ Bethany Sachtleben, a rising sophomore at George Mason University, took an early lead and went on to clock 17:53, more than 30 seconds under her winning time from 2012.
When Barb Fallon Wallace, 39, of Alexandria, reeled her in, the veteran local road racer knew she’d better keep pushing.
“I knew that she had been running in college … I didn’t want to get in a kick with her,” she said, laughing.
Little more than a year ago, Fallon Wallace ran a new personal best for 10k not long after giving birth to twin girls. Wallace’s daughters are now two, while her 10k personal best is now about a minute faster.
Alisa Harvey, who was 2nd in the inaugural race, returned this year to finish 3rd overall and win the master’s division. Harvey, 47, of Gainesville, finished in 19:07, not much slower than what she ran in 2011.
The 5k starts and finishes at the same spot in Fairfax Corner Shopping Center, and is held on a rolling, challenging course. Afterward, runners and families gathered for refreshments, treats, and dips in the water fountain. And regardless of whether you attended the packet pickup-slash-beach party at Pacers Fairfax on July 2, participants, rather than a free t-shirt, received a colorful beach towel to kick off summer.
By Steve Nearman
March 17, 2012
For the Washington Running Report
There was little drama determining the champions of today’s Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon and Half Marathon around the four quadrants of Washington, DC. There was plenty of drama, however, from the thousands of runners whose bodies were not so acclimated to the unseasonably warm temperatures.
Local favorite Michael Wardian of Arlington and George Washington University medical student Meghan Bishop ran dominating races and easily tamed the field of 3,181 starters (3,129 finishers) at the seventh annual race. Wardian, who outruns the field in what seems like at least a marathon or ultra a weekend, covered the 26.2-mile course on autopilot, winning here for the sixth time in seven years in a pedestrian 2:26:35. He earned $1,000.
Wardian opened a big gap early, but had to fight off eventual runner-up Travis Barczak, a 22-year-old Detroit native in his marathon debut. Barczak charged a mile down North Capital Street and drew even with Wardian at 11 miles. But the rookie was no match for the 37-year-old veteran, and six miles later Wardian dismantled Barczak’s hopes for a marathon victory.
“I was smelling blood,” said Barczak, who competes in cross country and is on spring break from Wayne State University this week. “I saw the front guy was relaxed. You’ve got to take advantage of the down hills.”
Wardian was unfazed.
“I started throwing in some 5:17 miles and putting some distance on him,” Wardian recounted. “He was running pretty fast. It was cool. I like to race. And if somebody wants to race, let’s get it on.” Wardian traveled solo from the Southwest Waterfront past Nationals Stadium and all through Anacostia back to the finish.
Barczak slowed considerably over the second half (1:16:41) and ended in 2:28:56. Scott Allen of Washington, DC (2:36:05), Benjamin Emmanuel of Arlington (2:38:24) and Philippe Rolly of McLean (2:41:34) followed.
“I was hoping to run 2:35 but I ended up at 2:41,” said Rolly, who turns 40 this year and is prepping for a successful masters campaign.
Bishop, meanwhile, had no visions of grandeur in her first race over 10 miles. Wearing headphones on a course full of live bands, the 26-year-old from Blue Bell, PA, said she was just happy to be running again after three busy years of medical school, working 80 hours per week to become an orthopedic surgeon.
“I was not expecting to win,” said Bishop, whose last long race was two years ago at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile. “I was just hoping to go under three hours.” Bishop, who was a top distance runner for the College of William and Mary, came close – 3:01:40 – leading the entire course. She took home a $1,000 check for her sweat.
Immediately upon cross the finish line, she took up residency in the medical tent. “My legs were wobbly near the end,” Bishop admitted. “It is probably from dehydration.”
Bethany Sachtleben, 20, from Manassas, trailed her by nearly 10 minutes in 3:11:25. Silvia Baage of Washington (3:13:50), Noalig Montagnon of New York City (3:15:05) and Patricia Soumoff of Southampton, NY (3:16:13) were next.
Four hours into the marathon, drama began to consume the finish area as many runners collapsed or nearly collapsed. The culprit most likely was the temperature, which was mid-50s with haze at gun time 8:00 a.m. but rose into the 70s and full sun by the afternoon.
“We were ready for everything, heat, cold, you name it,” said Dan Cruz, head of media relations for the Rock ‘n’ Roll series. “There were about five minutes when it looked like a war zone.”
In the accompanying half marathon, which drew 16,477 starters and 16,291 finishers, Ricky Flynn nailed his only goal, which was to win, speeding around 13.1 miles in 1:06:39. Flynn, with a personal best 1:04:15 last fall, said he signed up for the race more as a workout as he transitions from marathon training to track sharpening for this June’s Olympic track and field trials. Flynn placed a surprising 12th in the Olympic Marathon trials in January in a debut 2:12:29.
“I was using it as more of a workout than a race, trying to get back in track shape,” said the Lynchburg, VA, resident who grew up in nearby Damascus, MD. His “workout” banked him $1,000.
Flynn said he traded the lead with Washington-based Ethiopian Gurmessa Mergerssa for the first five to six miles. Once they hit Mile 7, Mergerssa abruptly backed off the pace and Flynn turned it on for the next mile. “I just pushed the pace to make sure he didn’t come back on me,” he explained. Mergerssa fell back more than a minute and posted a 1:07:57 time. Italian Paolo Natali was third in 1:08:07.
Ethiopians Askale Merachi and Tiringo Getachew swept the women’s half in 1:16:52 and 1:20:42 respectively. Local favorite Lisa Thomas of Fairfax was third in 1:22:17.
Just before noon, Janette Ray and her training partner Dexter proudly completed the half marathon. Both received their finisher medal around their neck and their water. Then Dexter rolled over onto the pavement in total content.
Not to worry, Dexter is a 6-year-old white lab who has assisted Janette in four marathons and now her fourth half marathon in the past two years. Dexter is Janette’s right arm, a limb she lost to cancer as a baby.
“He needs exercise and so do I,” said Janette, a Kingstowne, VA, resident who was united with Dexter five years ago after a second surgery on her left arm. “I couldn’t move the arm so he minimizes the load.” Janette said Dexter pulls laundry out of the dryer and carries things on his back, along with walking with her five to six miles every day after her work at the Office of the Secretary of Defense Washington Headquarters Services.
Janette was waiting for her husband John to complete the full marathon.
“I’d like to do marathons again but I have a balance problem now and I’m afraid of falling on my face,” the 49-year-old said. “Today we ran 10 minutes per mile which is pretty good for us. Dexter ran all the way through nine miles; then we walked. This is the first race where they actually gave him a finisher’s medal!”
Marathon by division
|2||Steel Flynn||M||23||Mount Washington||PA||2:49:55|
|3||James Graves||M||21||Winston Salem||NC||2:56:26|
|3||Andrew Zernovoj||M||26||Emerald Hills||CA||2:50:31|
|2||Richard Velazquez||M||31||New York||NY||2:42:16|
|1||Karsten Brown||M||37||Front Royal||VA||2:48:18|
|3||Stephen Sundown||M||44||Upper Montclair||NJ||3:06:44|
|1||Robert Towne||M||59||Spokane Valley||WA||3:27:06|
|1||Won Yub Lee||M||73||Salamanca||NY||5:14:29|
|3||James Simpson||M||70||Huntington Beach||CA||5:36:17|
|2||Esther Kendall||F||24||New York||NY||3:18:22|
|1||Ashley Duerr||F||27||Falls Church||VA||3:15:30|
|2||Sarah Moore||F||29||Aliso Viejo||CA||3:18:21|
|1||Noalig Montagnon||F||30||New York||NY||3:11:29|
|3||Phyllis Sevik||F||47||Ellicott City||MD||3:43:00|
|1||Barbara Haney||F||53||Fort Washington||MD||3:45:05|
|2||Elizabeth Baumgarten||F||55||Stone Ridge||VA||3:53:50|
|2||Ruth Liebowitz||F||69||Staten Island||NY||5:33:52|
Half Marathon by division
|3||Brandon Marquart||M||14||Ellicott City||MD||2:12:21|
|1||Thomas Selishev||M||16||Silver Spring||MD||1:19:37|
|2||David Phipps||M||48||Severna Park||MD||1:23:35|
|3||John Michael Chapin||M||45||Alexandria||VA||1:24:37|
|2||William Loomis||M||57||Silver Spring||MD||1:33:50|
|3||Bob Becker||M||60||White Hall||MD||1:31:48|
|1||Malcolm Cohen||M||70||Ann Arbor||MI||2:22:10|
|2||David Loprinzi||M||72||King City||OR||2:22:35|
|1||Lou Wilson||M||75||The Woodlands||TX||3:21:43|
|1||Kerry Lane Magalis III||F||13||Front Royal||VA||1:52:10|
|2||Bryanna Leyen||F||14||Perry Hall||MD||2:05:58|
|3||Sarah Harmer||F||14||Wall Township||NJ||2:07:27|
|1||Jeanna Composti||F||31||New York||NY||1:24:42|
|1||Leslie Cohen||F||44||North Potomac||MD||1:24:32|
|3||Sally Foster||F||40||Linthicum Heights||MD||1:33:19|
|1||Grace McElroy||F||45||Sleepy Hollow||NY||1:29:51|
|1||Linda Ottaviano||F||56||Cold Spring Harbor||NY||1:44:42|