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|