By Dickson Mercer
April 1, 2012
For the Washington Running Report
Main field gets underway.
A year after Frank Shorter took gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics and ignited the first running boom, fewer than 200 people showed up on a muggy day for the inaugural Cherry Blossom Invitational Run. Billed as a final tune-up for the Boston Marathon, the founders believed 10 miles was the perfect distance. Ten miles. It was long enough to provide an adequate test. It was not, however, long enough to [button-red url=”http://www.cherryblossom.org/aboutus/results.php” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]leave runners feeling “too pooped out,” according to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run’s 40th anniversary race program.
One runner tearing up the local scene back then was Phil Stewart. Stewart, in fact, was this region’s top finisher at the 1975 Boston Marathon.
Stewart is now race director of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, a race that now attracts tens of thousands in celebration of “the Runner’s Rite of Spring” and over the years has showcased the best of the best – be it in the world, in America, or within the local scene.
Bethesda’s Ben Beach today finished his 40th Credit Union Cherry Blossom, a feat he shares with no one else.
This year’s event celebrated that history and more. Past champions who spoke at the expo Friday and Saturday and raced today included Bill Rodgers, who, in addition to winning the New York City and Boston marathons four times apiece between 1975 and 1980, won four Cherry Blossoms in a row starting in 1978.
There was Greg Meyer, who set the American record (46:13) here in 1983 before becoming the last American to win Boston.
There was Carl Hatfield, who won the race in 1974 and 1975.
There was Credit Union Cherry Blossom course recorder Colleen De Reuck and 1984 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson (left).
Samuelson was 28th today in 1:02:27. At 54, her time was almost 10 minutes faster than the inaugural winning time set by women’s running pioneer Kathrine Switzer.
Today, 174 women ran faster than Switzer’s time from 1973. Today, Dave Burnham’s time of 51:23 would have put him right on the heels of Sam Bair, the inaugural men’s winner.
Burnham, who lives in Arlington and races for Georgetown Running Company, was 17th.
Men’s race: Training partners set the pace
Last year it was nine miles of back-and-forth battling with Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, a battle that Kenya’s Allan Kiprono (photo below of Kiprono winning in 2012) ultimately lost.
At this year’s Credit Union Cherry Blossom, it was Kiprono’s turn to take the lead, and the win. By the time he and his training partner Lani Kiplagat passed the one-mile mark, they already held a decent-sized lead on the rest of the field. But as that lead on Kenya’s John Korir – a three-time Credit Union Cherry Blossom winner – increased, Kiplagat turned to his teammate and offered a suggestion.
“I told him, ‘Allen, let’s maintain the pace. Don’t reduce the pace. Let’s push,” Kiplagat said.
Push they did – but the day ultimately proved to be Kiprono’s. Taking advantage of perfect racing conditions, the 22-year-old soared to the lead shortly after 5K and lowered the event record to 45:15, this year’s fastest time in the world for 10 miles. Kiplagat, meantime, came through in 46:28.
Korir, who at 36 has more than a decade of racing in his legs than Kiprono and Kiplagat, was third in 47:33. Still, he was unfazed. “Now I know these guys are so tough,” he said. “I’ll catch up in other races.”
After falling off the pace set by Kiprono and Kiplagat, Korir fell back to the chase pack, then managed to hold off Ian Burrell, 27, of Tucson, AZ by just a second. This was Burrell’s first race since January’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where he was 15th in 2:14:04.
Burrell said he struggled with allergies. In other words, as he settled into a pack with Korir and Jesse Cherry, 24, of Blowing Rock, NC, the best he could do was hang on while Cherry did most of the leading. Then, at the 800 meters to go sign, Burrell dug up some leg speed. “I was just kind of gritting my teeth and thinking about all the diapers I could buy with the prize money,” he said.
As top American, he earned an extra $1,000 in prize money.
Cherry, who finished fifth in 47:40, was also running his first race since the Trials, where he was 16th in 2:16:31.
Top American runners Josh Moen, 29, of Minneapolis, MN and Patrick Rizzo of Boulder, CO finished 7th and 8th in 48:38 and 49:14, respectively. They were followed by two runners from Washington, DC, Pacers’ Stephen Hallinan (left), ninth in 50:18 and Paolo Natali, 10th in 50:44.
A top local runner and Olympic Trials qualifier, Hallinan’s 10-mile best is more than a minute faster than what he ran today. As with Burrell though, Hallinan cited allergy difficulties.
“I knew kind of a mile in, it was going to have to be one of those days where I tough it out, so I was trying to hang on to five-minute pace the best I could,” said Hallinan, who ran alone starting a quarter mile into the race.
Women’s race: Tinega repeats
In the elite women’s race, which started 10 minutes before the rest of the field, Kenya’s Jelliah Tinega dismissed her competitors even earlier in the race than Kiprono to win in 54:02.
It was her second straight title. Tinega said she will return next year to go for a three-peat.
Places two through five were separated by just 13 seconds with Malika Mejdoub, 29, of Ethiopia coming out ahead in 54:24.
Mejdoub was followed by Yihunlish Delelecha, 30, of Ethiopia in 54:33 and Agnieszka, 26, of Poland in 54:36.
The top local finisher, Claire Hallissey, 29, of Arlington, who was fifth, was just a second behind Agnieszka. The next race for the England native is the Virgin London Marathon on April 22. There, Hallissey, who has a marathon best of 2:29:27, is hoping to put up a performance that establishes a solid case for claiming a spot on England’s Olympic marathon team.
Still, this race holds special meaning for her, Hallissey said. Credit Union Cherry Blossom was her first race in the District after she moved here a couple of years back and she would like to return one day with fresher legs.
“I want to come back and finish in the top three,” she said.
Top American honors went to Stephanie Pezzullo, 29, of Charlotte, NC, who finished sixth in 55:16. Pezzulo was followed by Kristen Zaitz of Boulder, CO, who ran 55:24, and Emily Harrison, formerly of Front Royal, VA, who ran 56:04. Harrison now trains in Flagstaff, AZ.
After Hallissey, the next local was Georgetown Running Company’s Andrea Garvue. The 27-year-old Chevy Chase resident caught a side stitch early in the race. In the second half, feeling stronger, she hooked up with a pack that pulled her along to a time of 58:50, good for 12th overall.
Meanwhile, in the master’s division, competition was stiff. Fourteen years ago, DeReuck (below) set a world record time here of 51:16. Today, at 47, the Boulder, CO was top master – and 10th overall – in 58:14.
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|