By Brenda Barrera
Fredericksburg, VA
May 20, 2012
For the Washington Running Report

There was much to celebrate at this year’s fifth anniversary of the Marine Corps Marathon Historic Half held in Fredericksburg, VA on May 20, 2012. The event has grown every year and had close to 6,000 finishers, compared to 3,800 from the inaugural 2008 event. For starters, it was a commanding victory for hometown favorite Bert Jacoby who came to the starting line with one goal: to win. And that he did in 1:11:33, almost three minutes ahead of defending champion Wyatt Boyd, from Washington, DC, who finished in 1:14:27. Brandon Dick, 25, from Fredericksburg took the final podium spot with his 1:15:36 finish.

What a far cry from Jacoby’s 2011 race experience when he was the very last person to cross the start line and he raised money for charity for each person he passed.

“This time I was focused,” smiled Jacoby. “Time did not matter; it was all about place.” He stayed at the finish area with his mother who used her iPhone and the MCM Runner Tracking options to follow his sister, Anne. She completed the race in 1:35:27.

Next up for the Jacoby is a move to Charlottesville for graduate school at the end of the summer. “I’m looking forward to training with the group out of Ragged Mountain Running.”

Courtney Chapman, 28, is juggling a heavy load at medical school in Norfolk, VA and yet still able to improve her race times. Chapman is best described as a tough competitor with a wide smile that is easy to spot whether she is clipping along at a fast pace or flying up a hill. And fly she did at the famous hospital hill on her way to a 1:21:56 victory. That is a big leap from her 2010 MCM Historic Half race when she posted a 1:31:10 finish.

Arlington’s Katherine Marden, 31, fresh off last weekend’s Ragnar Relay Cape Cod (“I had the longest leg”) finished in 1:26:44. She was followed by Marine Capt. Erin Demchko, 27, from Dumfries, VA who was pleased with her 1:29:02 finish.

“The hill wasn’t as bad as the hype,” said Demchko, “I had a riot and got a PR!”

Top masters division finishers were Lt. Col. Thomas Blackwell, 41, of Vienna, VA in 1:19:58 and Alexandria’s Stefani Watterson, 42, of Alexandria, VA who crossed the line in 1:33:41.

Mike Collotta, 58, (left) from Washington, DC has been running races for more than two decades and still finding interesting events like this one. “I especially liked the historical parts of the course,” said the DC Road Runners member. “The Marines provided extra inspiration.”

Deanna Cabrey, running for Team Fisher House, was pleased with her finish of 1:41:43. “I surpassed my goal of running a 7:45-8:10 pace,” said the 20-year-old college student. Cabrey started supporting the Fisher House when she was just ten and began giving 10% of her allowance to the charity.

Wedding bells will be ringing soon for John Swift and Sarah Longava (right) from Bristow, VA who crossed the finish line together just under two hours. Swift presented her with an engagement ring. And she said, “Yes!”

NBC’s “Biggest Loser” is a reality show about overweight contestants trying to lose weight and also adopt a healthy lifestyle. It has inspired not only contestants and viewers, but also First Lady Michelle Obama.

A highlight for many runners was to share the field with two familiar faces from the hit show. Contestant Lauren Lee, 27, from Poolesville MD, (right) sporting her yellow “Biggest Loser” tank top finished in 2:14:33 and the TV show’s host, Alison Sweeney, wearing bib#1,not only had duties firing the starting pistol but jumped in and ran 2:05:30.

“The show really makes you believe in the human spirit and overcoming whatever your obstacles,” said Sweeney who looked unfazed and fresh after the uphill finish. “I never would have dreamed of doing this [half marathon] before the Biggest Loser,” smiled the host. As with many finishers she was pleased that she had beaten her projected time.


New Course Records Set in Semper Fred 5K

Kenyan Reuben Mwei, 26, living in Lithia Springs, GA  is planning on racing the MCM 10K this fall and wanted to check out the “Marine Corps” experience. Not familiar with the course, Mwei picked a good competitor to tuck behind, defending champion Jordan Zwick.

“I was off my goal of 14 minutes,” said Mwei, an Academic All-American at Adams State. He crossed the finish line in 15:27, beating the 2010 course record of 15:59. Arlington’s Zwick, 25, was anxious to stretch out his legs having driven 11 hours from Rochester, NY the night prior. He finished with an impressive 15:36. Stephen Harrison, 23, from Fredericksburg was third in 16:19.

Reigning women’s champion Molly Roohi should probably listen to her coach, or maybe not. The advice for this day was not to race but Roohi did it anyway. It paid off as she clocked 19:03, setting a new course record (old course record 19:37 from 2009) and knocking 38 seconds off her 2011 time. Masters standouts Michelle Dolby, 44, from Fredericksburg finished next in 20:57 and Alexandria’s Kristin McCann, 40, took third place in 21:49.


By Brenda Barrera
Virginia Beach, VA
February 11, 2012
For the Washington Running Report

To say love was in the air was no exaggeration for Saturday’s Virginia is for Lovers 14K, an unusual race distance and one of the popular J&A Racing events held in Virginia Beach, VA. It was a morning filled with a lot of red attire, pink hearts with glitter, and wedding vows were exchanged on the race course at, where else, Lovers’ Lane.

It came as no surprise to see top locals and last year’s champions defend their titles. Ryan Carroll, 29, from Portsmouth led from start to win in 46:22 and Virginia Beach’s Renee High, 30, handily won in 52:00. While both ran slower times than last year, each was just coming off January breakout performances where Carroll notched a 1:08:36 PR at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon and High won the Walt Disney Marathon in 2:48:35.

“The conditions were perfect today,” said Carroll, noting the forecast had called for rainy conditions but thankfully it remained dry. He is coached by race director Jerry Frostick and used the race as a training run in preparation for the upcoming Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon in March.

Jesse Contario, 28, from Arlington, VA (left) ran most of the race by himself. The William & Mary alumni finished about a minute back in 47:44, good enough for second place. Victor Flemming, 32, from Smithfield, VA took third in 48:50.

Steve Speirs, 45, from Virginia Beach handily won the masters competition in 49:48, besting Greg Cauller, 52, from York, PA, who ran 51:50.

In the women’s competition, High (below) ran unchallenged but the next few places were up for grabs as Norfolk’s Courtney Chapman, 28, with her braided ponytail flying back and forth and a huge grin on her face, slowly picked off the leaders to claim second place in 53:33. Mollie Turner, 31, from Chesapeake, VA crossed the finish line nine seconds later in 53:42.

Gina McGee’s lucky number was five. The talented 47-year-old masters division runner from Virginia Beach ran 55:55 and placed fifth overall among the women. Norfolk’s Dolores Ware, 41, took the next masters place in 56:14.

Race Notes

* David Ullrich, of Galesville, MD and Nina Stickles from Hampton, VA made a “planned” detour near mile 4 in Lover’s Lane and got hitched. They stopped for the ceremony and then continued the race together, crossing the finish line in 1:47:31; faster than a 12:30 pace if you are calculating.

* Colonel Mark Cooter, 48, from nearby Langley Air Force base finished in 1:05:10 and had a special note on his race bib for his wife, Angelina: “I ‘heart’ you! Hurry Home!” Well, we know his wife, Major Angelina Maguinness, knows how to hurry, she is a fast runner and won the companion race in Kabul, Afghanistan.

* Chad Simpson (below) got a lot of “love” along the course. It is understandable as he ran in an Elvis outfit and was carrying a guitar. He cruised across the finish line in 1:05:58 and, when asked what was on his iPod play list, rattled off several Elvis tunes and shared his discovery of a new Elvis song he just recently heard, Guitar Man.

* Sporting matching Valentine’s Day-themed gauze skirts was a trio of international runners: Laila Tolderlund from Denmark was joined by Fenella McAlister from Scotland, and Geirhild Snilda Engen from Norway. All three live in Virginia Beach and are part of the NATO family.

* The relay division offered an opportunity for North Bethesda’s Janine Garner and her daughter Gabi to compete as Team Garner. Their finish time was 1:19:12 and just ahead of them, Ron Garner completed the course in 1:13:53.

* At the post-race party, Bryan Deal, 34, from Mechanicsville, VA, who ran 57:43, joined ProK racing teammate Tyler Van Rensselaer, 35, who recently moved to Pisgah Forest, NC and finished in 53:22. “We’re doing all of the J&A race series,” said Deal. “We’re blown away by all of the schwag.”

In all, 2,981 runners finished the Virginia is for Lovers 14K, an increase from 2011, and more than 300 participants ran the 1.4 mile race, benefitting LIVESTRONG, the official race charity.

Editor’s Note: More race coverage will be in the upcoming March/April issue of Washington Running Report: The Runner’s Source for DC, MD, & VA.


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