By Brenda Barrera
Washington, DC
March 26, 2011
For Washington Running Report

Long lines of racers get underway.

Under clear skies, chilly race temperatures in the 30s, and the backdrop of the RFK Stadium, more than 13,000 runners finished this year’s SunTrust National Marathon, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield National Half Marathon, and United Way National Team Relay in the Nation’s Capital, setting an all-time record number of participants.

SunTrust National Marathon

While it may not have been a surprise to local fans that Michael “Mr. National Marathon” Wardian earned his fifth SunTrust National Marathon title in six years, this running icon never takes anything for granted. Coming off a disappointing third place finish at the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon last week, the Arlington runner had a look of determination as he lined up at the start.

“I was not happy with my last race so I took off my watches for this one,” said Wardian who usually wears more than one watch when he races. His strategy of “attacking each mile” paid off with a 2:23:01 victory, but his main goal is to run a 2:19:00 qualifying time for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials.

How is this win compared to his other four at this event? “This was really special,” said Wardian as he held his two boys, Pierce and Grant, in each arm after completing the 26.2-mile race.

Canadian Greg Wieczorek, 29, finished five minutes later in 2:28:08.  Compared to racing in the far north Wieczorek quipped, “This is beach weather!” He stayed at the finish to greet his wife, Maura, 29, who notched a seven minute PR with her 3:06:05 finish. Another familiar runner from the local scene is Wilson Komen. He finished third in 2:31:00, despite missing the marathon split-off and ran with the half marathoners before realizing his mistake and turning back to get on the right course.

In the women’s competition, Russian Nadezhda Tuptova, 35, who is training in Gainesville, FL, won in 2:50:53. Virginia Beach’s Renee High, 29, (photo) took second place in 2:53:05 and Beth Woodward, 35, from Orrville, OH rounded out the top three in 3:01:26.

Chris McDonald, 51, from South Riding, VA was the lone wheelchair competitor. He completed the marathon in 3:08:17.

For Yvette Ju (Rockville, MD) today’s race was extra special. She celebrated her birthday with 2,866 other marathoners, finishing in 4:29:42. It was also Casey Simpson’s (Columbia, MD) birthday and she  ran a 1:55:42 half marathon to celebrate her big day. Other half marathon birthday runners included Douglas Edgecomb (Washington, DC) who finished in 1:52:24 and Sam Hadley (Arlington, VA) who ran 2:39:31. Ryan Leirvik (Arlington, VA) also completed the half marathon and wanted to let everyone know it was his big day. He wore a t-shirt that had this on it: “My name is Ryan and today is my birthday!”

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield National Half Marathon

As with the marathon, it was a local finisher who broke the tape first followed by a Canadian. Gurmessa Mergerssa, 31, from Washington, DC (photo) finished just ten seconds ahead of Canadian Adam Hortian, 1:07:16 to 1:07:26. Mergerssa also won the Scope It Out 5K in 14:55 last weekend. Defending champion Mark Fruin, 25, from Bloomington, IN did not run nearly as fast as he did last year and had to settle for third place in 1:08:15.

Christine Ramsey described 2010 as an “off” year. If this race is any indication, 2011 looks to be an “on” year. The 28-year-old from Baltimore won in 1:17:01. Tezeta Dengersa, 30, from Butsonville, MD finished second in 1:17:15. Local ace Maggie Infeld, 24, from Washington, DC was all smiles after today’s race with her 1:18:28 finish.

To see Rachael Holt and Christina Glasener, 16, (photo below) together you might think they were related since they look alike and both finished in 1:42. Holt was beaming as she introduced Glasener, “I’m so proud of her!” But they aren’t related. Holt mentors Glasener in the popular Teens RunDC program, which empowers at-risk youth to envision and work toward achieving their personal goals through mentoring and a distance running program.

Many of the participants in today’s events support various charities like T.J. Senker, 34, from Baltimore who was running in support of Back On My Feet Baltimore, a nonprofit organization that works with the homeless to build confidence, strength, and self-esteem through running. “Volunteering with this group is really rewarding and inspiring,” he said after finishing the half marathon.

In addition to these two events were the Kids RunDC Monumental Mile and the United Way National Team Relay consisting of three participants with two runners completing 5 miles and the final runner finishing the last 3.1 miles. The Excella-Team from Arlington won in 1:26:34 (6:37 pace). In all, 274 teams competed this year.

For additional coverage, be sure to check out the May/June issue ofWashington Running Report: The Runner’s Source for DC, MD & VA.


Top Five Men Overall

Place Guntime Name                    Age Bib#  City State                  
===== ======= ======================= === ===== =========================== 
    1 2:23:01 Michael Wardian          36     1 Arlington VA                
    2 2:28:08 Greg Wieczorek           29     8 Halifax NS CAN              
    3 2:31:00 Wilson Komen             33     5 Washington DC               
    4 2:31:31 Dustin Whitlow           24     6 Arlington VA                
    5 2:33:42 Joe Kelly                25  3692 Arlington VA                
Record 2:21:17.6 by Patrick Moulton in 2009

Top Three Men Masters

Place Guntime Name                    Age Bib#  City State                  
===== ======= ======================= === ===== =========================== 
    1 2:49:10 Steven Peterson          45  2365 Fairfax Station VA          
    2 2:50:53 Thomas Jensen            47  1558 Oakton VA                   
    3 2:51:16 Sean Reilly              42  4283 Toms River NJ               

Top Five Women Overall

Place Guntime Name                    Age Bib#  City State                  
===== ======= ======================= === ===== =========================== 
    1 2:50:53 Nadezhda Tuptova         35    20 Gainesville FL              
    2 2:53:05 Renee High               29    28 Virginia Beach VA           
    3 3:01:26 Beth Woodward            35    17 Orrville OH                 
    4 3:03:12 Lisa Reichmann           36    16 Gaithersburg MD             
    5 3:03:39 Amanda West              34  3198 New York NY                 
Record 2:48:38.1 by Jeannette Seckinger in 2009

Top Three Women Masters

Place Guntime Name                    Age Bib#  City State                  
===== ======= ======================= === ===== =========================== 
    1 3:07:57 Karine Falgon            40    62 3100 Montlucon FRA          
    2 3:10:44 Cheri Fine               46  1069 Atlanta GA                  
    3 3:11:05 Claudette Augert         47   299 Edmonton AB CAN             

Half Marathon

Top Five Men Overall

Place Guntime Name                    Age Bib#  City State                  
===== ======= ======================= === ===== =========================== 
    1 1:07:16 Gurmessa Mergessa        31  5218 Washington DC               
    2 1:07:26 Adam Hortian             26  5221 Waterloo ON CAN             
    3 1:08:15 Mark Fruin               25  5233 Bloomington IN              
    4 1:08:25 Charlie Hurt             27  5223 Richmond VA                 
    5 1:08:36 Craig Schmidt            27  5257 Sheboygan WI                
Record 1:05:02 by Mark Fruin in 2010

Top Five Women Overall

Place Guntime Name                    Age Bib#  City State                  
===== ======= ======================= === ===== =========================== 
    1 1:17:01 Christine Ramsey         28  5226 Baltimore MD                
    2 1:17:15 Tezeta Dengersa          30  5219 Burtonsville MD     
    3 1:18:28 Maggie Infeld            24  5212 Washington DC               
    4 1:20:07 Laura Onderko            24  5214 Philadelphia PA             
    5 1:20:51 Emily McGregor           24  5209 Philadelphia PA             
Record 1:15:35.9 by Hirut Mandefro in 2009



By Brenda Barrera
Washington, DC
March 22, 2010
For the Washington Running Report

With a brutal winter all but a distant memory thanks to temperatures that rose to the 70s, more than 9,200 runners finished this year’s fifth annual SunTrust National Marathon, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield National Half Marathon and Team Relay on Saturday in Washington, DC.

Local favorite Michael Wardian, of Arlington, VA (photo left), captured his fourth title, crossing the finish line in 2:21:58, and took home $2,000. For most of the contest it was a battle between Wardian, 35, and the defending champion, Patrick Moulton, 28, of Providence, RI with Wardian running in the lead and pulling ahead at each major split. Moulton’s 2:26:03 was well off his 2009 course record time (2:21:17) and afterward he said, “Hats off to Mike for his win.”

Wardian, who has garnered several honors this past year including 2008 and 2009 USATF Ultra Runner of the Year, felt pretty confident in his performance. Afterward he said he attacked every hill and stayed focused in order to post one of his fastest race times. “It was a terrific race,” exclaimed Wardian. “I love that my family was all able to be here.” Next up for the ultra marathoner is the Marathon des Sables and Comrades Marathon. Paul Howarth, of Albuquerque, NM, took third place in 2:27:19.

In the women’s race, Krista Vrombaut, who just started running competitively two years ago, captured the title with a PR in 2:51:17 and also received $2,000 for her win. “I played soccer in college and used to hate when our coach made us run three miles,” recalled the 27-year-old from Rock Island, IL. Michaela Driscoll, of Coventry, RI, ran 2:55:50 to finish second, and a local standout, Arlington’s Mary Beth Chosak, 31 (photo below), rounded out the top three with her time of 2:57:32.

The top masters were Kris Warszawski, 50, of Northville, MI, with a time of 2:44:00, and Tracy Wollschlager, 41, from Novi, MI, took the women’s title with her 3:03:50. Each earned $250.

Chris McDonald, 50, of South Riding, VA, won the wheelchair division with a time of 3:01:35.

An invasion from the Midwest might be an apt descriptor for the top finishers of the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield National Half Marathon, since the top three men and two of the top three women were from either Indiana or Illinois.

Coming off a personal best in the 5,000 at the Husky Classic in Washington with a 14:03, Mark Fruin, from Bloomington, IN, came to DC looking to run a sub-1:05:00 to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials. While he narrowly missed it with his 1:05:02 win, Fruin, who competes for Team Indiana Elite, was still happy. The 24-year-old credits a group effort, “It helped to come out here as a team.” Teammate Stephen Haas, 26, from Bloomington, IN finished second just 12 seconds behind in 1:05:14. Also making the podium was Jeff Jonaitis, 28, from Tinley Park, IL who set a PR with this 1:05:58.

The top local finisher, Silver Spring’s Dirk De Heer, finished 5th overall in 1:07:37 for his half marathon debut. According to his blog, De Heer thought the weather was amazing but noted the rolling hills on the course were tough.

In the women’s race another member of Team Indiana Elite, Laura Farley, 25, won in 1:18:38. Although her time was slower than 2009, Baltimore’s Phebe Ko placed higher with her second place 1:19:03 finish. “I’m coming off an injury so I wanted to use this race to test my fitness,” said Ko (photo left). Like many others in the race, she spent many hours training on the treadmill this past winter. Dani Prince, 24, also from Team Indiana Elite, rounded out the top three with her 1:19:37 finish.

This year’s race featured two icons of the sport: Four-time winner of the Boston and New York Marathon Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first women’s Olympic Marathon, spoke at Friday’s Health and Fitness Expo and both also ran the half marathon. Rodgers, 62, finished in 1:46:02 and Benoit Samuelson, 52, won her age group in 1:22:33.

“It was a good solid run,” said Benoit Samuelson. “It’s an Honest Abe course, it’s not flat.”  She’s coming back to DC in a few weeks to run the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile.

Next year’s race will be held on Saturday, March 26. For more Also, check out the May/June issue of Washington Running Report for race coverage.


2010 SunTrust National Marathon

2,325 finishers


Overall Men (clock time)
1. Michael Wardian, 35, Arlington VA - 2:21:58 ($2,000)
2. Patrick Moulton, 28, Providence RI - 2:26:03 ($800)
3. Paul Howarth, 32, Albuquerque NM- 3 2:27:19 ($700)
4. Matt Woods, 30, Falls Church VA - 2:33:30 ($500)
5. Ruben Galbraith, 26, Portland OR - 2:35:01 ($300)
Overall Women (clock time)
1. Krista Vrombaut, 27, Rock Island IL - 2:51:17 ($2,000)
2. Michaela Driscoll, 30, Coventry RI - 2:55:50 ($800)
3. Mary Beth Chosak, 31, Arlington VA - 2:57:32 ($700)
4. Arien O'Connell, 26, New York NY - 2:57:45 ($500)
5. Shannon Saunders, 25, Charlottesville VA - 2:59:37 ($300)

2010 CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield National Half Marathon

6,239 finishers
Overall Men (clock time)
1. Mark Fruin, 24, Bloomington IN - 1:05:02  ($1,000)
2. Stephen Haas, 26, Bloomington IN - 1:05:14  ($500)
3. Jeff Jonaitis, 28, Tinley Park IL - 1:05:58 ($250)
4. Adam Hortian, 25, Waterloo ON CAN - 1:07:19 ($200)
5. Dirk De Heer, 28, Silver Spring MD - 1:07:37 ($100)
Overall Women (clock time)
1. Laura Farley, 25, Bloomington IN - 1:18:38 ($1,000)
2. Phebe Ko, 27, Bethesda MD - 1:19:03 ($500)
3. Dani Prince, 24, Bloomington IN - 1:19:37 ($250)
4. Kristin Andrews, 28, Bethesda MD - 1:21:00 ($200)
5. Kathryn Neeper, 26, Washington DC -1:21:06 ($100)

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