By James Moreland
Washington, DC
October 29, 2011
For the Washington Running Report

The plan was for close to ten thousand walkers and runners to descend on Freedom Plaza for the 25th year of the Aids Walk 5K Washington. Many wondered how it would work out with the Occupy folks already there protesting. People wanted to know if the Freedom Plaza would have a clear space for them. There were even some jokes about how often the “occupiers” had a chance to bathe. Still, neither of these groups had any animosity and they made a plan to share with the Occupy Washington people taking the east side closest to the White House.

Then we got the news that maybe all of the house in the region would be white as well when panicked news media started a stampede to the grocery stores with word of a possible foot of snow. Regulars in town know there is always enough rhetoric to keep the temperature high enough to prevent snow. Besides, regular runners always prefer snow to rain. Rain soaks and snow blows off.  Just before race time, the skies were still dark with clouds and the rain was coming down pretty good leaving puddles all up and the route but it was nothing that would stop experienced runners.

Of course with this event 80% of the participants were walking and probably close to half of the runners were racing for their first time. This would explain why there were only 659 finishers out of nearly 1,500 signed up for the run. I will admit I considered sleeping in but that was only because I like to sleep. I even had a chance to run a mile through the city past the monuments from my parking spot and I was looking forward to a flat, fast course. The Marine Corp Marathon is coming tomorrow. How well the city remembers back in 1994 when Oprah Winfrey showed amazing versatility and took on the marathon that morning that was just as wet and barely warmer. Hopefully tomorrow we will get the sunshine we were promised.

The 5K course was modified from the regular one as the city is already changing somewhere along the route. It still starts with a sprint down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol but this time it could not decide where it wanted to go. The out and back course ducked down side streets not once, not twice, but three times, coming and going. Thus the race was always bouncing back and forth onto Pennsylvania Avenue.

The walk would start with a lot more fanfare at 9:15 as the last of the 5K runners were finishing. The event does not collect age or sex for the runners so the results will just show order of finish. Speaking with Brian Beary (left) at the start, I pointed down the road and said, “This is the hilly part of the course.” He was dressed as if it were a couple weeks earlier and quickly pulled away from the crowd.

Going up and back on streets gives one a chance to see the competition and he seemed surprised that no one was really up there with him.  Coming out of the second cul de sac Matthew Van Orden of Vineland, NJ began closing the gap but he would have to settle for the second spot in 18:37.

Meanwhile, the third runner was one of the region’s elite racers, Susan Hendrick (right). She was coming off a solid 1:04:23 at the Army 10 Mile, though it was well off her excellent 1:01:41 last year. Last fall she was fourth overall at the Veterans Day 10K in 36:42. This year’s race is in just two weeks and ends the Fall Runner Ranking season. With all the turns and the weather she was thinking place not time and she captured the third spot overall in 19:05, much closer to second than fourth place.

Noah Himberger was next besting the second woman Corrie Gethard by a half stride in 19:50. The third woman, Katie Schettig, was eighth overall. She had been eighth at the 2010 Veterans Day 10K as well.

For those looking to race again at Freedom Plaza when the weather is sure to be improved, there is no need to wait till spring for the St. Patrick’s Day 8k. In December, the 11th, the Jingle All The Way is downsizing to an 8K and moving to Freedom Plaza. However, the downsizing is only the distance as the race had grown so large that it no longer fit in its first home, West Potomac Park.

Top ten finishers

    1  1425 Brian Beary         Washington DC    18:21 18:20  5:54 
    2   845 Matthew Van Orden   Vineland NJ      18:37 18:35  5:59 
    3  1180 Susan Hendrick      Washington DC    19:05 19:04  6:09 
    4   356 Noah Himberger      Washington DC    19:50 19:49  6:23 
    5  1389 Corrie Gethard      College Park MD  19:51 19:49  6:23 
    6  1441 Taylor Williamson   Silver Spring MD 20:07 20:03  6:28 
    7  1036 Daniel Arboleda     Arlington VA     20:12 20:06  6:28 
    8   728 Katie Schettig      Washington DC    20:08 20:06  6:29 
    9  1461 Tom Howard          Arlington VA     20:13 20:09  6:30 
   10   282 Matt Giorgis        Arlington VA     20:16 20:12  6:30



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