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Despite high humidity Sunday morning, runners came out en force for the 34th annual Capitol Hill Classic 10k, enough that the morning-of demand for bib forced the start back by 15 minutes.
Once the race got started, Abu Kebede, Takele Gerbreljul and Teresa Fekaensatakele wasted no time blowing away the field for a 90+ lead over fourth place finisher Evan Jurkovitch. The three finished in 31:33, 31:34 and 31:35, with Kebede having run 15:10 the day before at the We’ve Got Your Back 5k in Reston.
“Great morning for a little 10k,” Jurkovitch said. “That hill on the way back was rough, but it was a dood hard effort.”
Women’s winner Tera Moody of Boulder, Colo. was in town for her cousin’s graduation from Georgetown University. Having finished third the week prior at the USATF 25k championships, Moody had less urgency during this race—she won 34:13 over Kensington’s Kristen Henehan’s 37:19—but it was not without a challenge. The humidity, the likes of which she does not see in the Rocky Mountains, left her drenched and feeling like she had earned her victory, though she ran without a watch.
“Even if I’m doing a workout, it’s much more fun to run with other people,” she said. “We had miles marked out, that’s better than blindly running places I don’t know. I was so glad I was able to make it part of my trip.”
Moody finished fifth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2008, but sat out last year because of an injury. Along with her 25k finish, she’s matched her 5k PR and come close to her half marathon PR this spring.
“Things have really finally come together,” she said. “I’m just thrilled to be run. I love to race. People out there were so supportive.”
Jonathan Ackaoui of Arlington ran to support his wife, who was making her 10k debut, but find himself motivated to see just what he could do.
“It was awesome, brutal,” he said. “I just sprinted, collapsed at the finish line. There’s no feeling like it.”
He was on pace for five miles, but another half mile in, he felt himself slow. That’s when he launched into the kick that helped him finish 10 seconds faster than his goal.
“I actually made up some ground on the hill, I just ran through it,” he said.
Though a track man in high school Ackaoui started road racing in March when he ran the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon with his uncle.
“I got the bug,” he said.
Back on Monday, James Davis was walking towards the finish line after completing his first Boston Marathon in 3:08:32. A block away, he heard the blast.
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Before that moment, a Boston Marathon shirt expressed personal pride and achievement. It still does. But now, more than ever, the Boston Marathon shirt Davis and many others wore during the George Washington Parkway Classic expressed solidarity. It expressed love – for the race, for the city, for the people.
“I felt good to be out there with everyone,” Davis said.
In the week leading up to the event, the race’s organizers, Pacers Events, sent an email to runners letting them know that safety was their “number one concern.”
Runners checked gear in clear plastic bags, and noticed more of a security presence near the starting line. The finish area was blocked off and closed to non-runners, with no re-entry allowed. Once runners exited the finish area, however, they entered a post-race party in Oronoco Bay Park that was as lively as ever.
Seth Hutchinson, who broke the tape in 50:56, appreciated the extra security measures, he said. But Hutchinson, 29, also appreciated the focus placed on remembering what had happened in Boston.
“I think they did a great job,” he said.
The Charlottesville, Va., resident pinned a yellow ribbon, distributed before the race, to his Ragged Mountain Running racing team jersey, and went on to separate himself from Will Christian and Jordan McDougal by running the second half of the race in 25:00.
Christian, 29, of Norfolk, Va. was 2nd in 51:22, with McDougal 3rd in 52:18. The top master, Eric Makovsky, 40, clocked 59:53.
Shannon Miller, 28, of Arlington won the women’s race in 1:01:04.
“Runners have that spirit,” she said. “Definitely that spirit is here, which is really good.”
Miller was followed by Laura O’Hara, 33, of Alexandria in 1:02:33. Kristen Henehan, 33, of Kensington, Md., was third in 1:03:41. Kristi Markowicz, 42, of Arlington, was the top master in 1:05:29.In addition to honoring Boston, runners bought back bibs to raise money for the recovery of Peter Laboy, an Alexandria police officer who was shot while on duty.
O’Hara was one of them. “I’m so grateful for the people who keep us safe here,” she said.
O’Hara had to stop between the first and second miles to tie her shoe. From there, she struggled to find a good rhythm. Grinding along, she thought about Boston and people like Laboy whose jobs often put them in harm’s way, and “tried to be tough,” she said.
Ami Camardo, 42, also ran in honor of Laboy. She finished in 1:20:14, easily beating her pre-race goal of breaking 1:25, and was pleased to see what happened in Boston had not scared away spectators.
“They give you so much energy and adrenaline,” she said. “So it was really nice to see everyone out there and see them supporting us.”
Andrew Ellis, 54, of Falls Church, who finished in 1:24:42, raced with “Boston Strong” temporarily tattooed on both of his calves and also sported his 2011 Boston Marathon shirt.
The Boston area native used to live along the Boston course, and described running the race in 2011 with his daughter, then a senior at Boston College, as “the experience of a lifetime.”
“It was personal,” he said of the attacks. “Everybody knows somebody who ran, or was close to it, or was caught up in it, so it’s been an awful week.”
The race, on the other hand, was a highlight.
“This was a lot of fun,” he said. “I wouldn’t have missed it.”