Sebastian Grund had two surprises as he neared the Pittsburgh Marathon finish line. One was that he hadn’t hit “the wall” late in the race. The other was a sign.

“If you finish, I’ll marry you.”

To splash some cold water on any romantic tension, he and Katharina Bergant were already planning to get married, so it wasn’t a finish line proposal. Plus, after a half-hour deluge in the middle of the marathon, Grund had already felt plenty of cold water against his face.

But it was still a thrill for him to come down the last mile and see her.

“I expected the last three miles to be the hardest, but there were more and more spectators, and then I saw Katarina with that funny sign,” he said.

Meanwhile, as she waited for Grund, Bergant had to fend off some interest.

“Two ladies stopped me and asked if the sign was for anyone specific because they had sons who were running their first marathon and were about to finish,” she said.

While Grund had mused about wanting some motivation, Bergant’s inspiration struck the night before the race. She and the couples’ friends left him asleep in their hotel room and retreated to the roof with some supplies they bought.

She crafted her message in red and white, matching the couple’s native Austrian flag.

The next morning, while Grund worked his way through the rain and the puddles on his way to a 3:09:51 finish, Bergant and their friends lounged in the hotel before coming out to the finish.

“I sent him off in his beautiful trash bag poncho and I went back to sleep for two hours,” she said.

Though they weren’t able to get around the course to see Grund as much as they’d hoped, everyone came away with the results they wanted.

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Running Shorts

 

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The National Park Service is proposing three alternatives for one of the two lanes wrapping around East Potomac Park, reserving one lane for cars and one split for pedestrians and cyclists. None of the alternatives offer protection beyond a two-or-three-foot buffer. NPS will accept written comments through 11:59 p.m. MT May 19 at this link.

Currently E. Ohio Drive wraps around East Potomac Park with two 10 foot lanes, with traffice designed to flow clockwise and cyclists generally riding clockwise, too, on the inside lane. Runners generally do what they will, but most tend to travel counterclockwise to face oncoming traffic. A public meeting from 5:00-6:30 p.m. April 19 will elaborate on the plan. Join here.

You can see detailed diagrams of the following alternatives here. All options would direct drivers and cyclists clockwise while allowing pedestrians to travel either way:

  • One option reduces the car lane to 9 feet, creates a five-foot bike lane, with a two-foot buffer to a four-foot pedestrian lane.
  • Another option places a three-foot buffer between the nine-foot car lane and a four-foot bike lane and a four-foot pedestrian lane.
  • A third option puts a pedestrian lane on the outside, with a two-foot buffer from a nine-foot car lane, with a five-foot bike lane on the inside.
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Washington, D.C.’s Maria Lanholz ran 2:43:25 at the Boston Marathon to place 39th and first among local women, while Silver Spring’s Jordan Tropf, who last year ran Boston as his third marathon in three days, benefited from the rest and ran 2:24:44 for 47th place, the top local man.

Pleasant weather was tempered by a consistent headwind, which, as you might expect, can have a deleterious effect on running performance, particularly on a point-to-point course.

The D.C. area saw 474 finishers, with 217 women and 257 men. With his 2:52:55, Cabin John’s Chris Bain most likely tied a record for consecutive sub-three-hour marathons at Boston – 24 – a record he likely shares with Bethesda’s Ben Beach, between 1972-1995.  Beach, whose 54 consecutive Bostons set a record last fall, did not race after suffering injuries in a February bike crash. And a detail that may only interest me, Leesburg’s Ashley Harper, with her 3:33:35, was our closest runner to run straight twos, threes, fours or fives.

This list of finishers is contingent on the addresses runners supplied while registering.

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Ben Beach runs the 2021 Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy of Beach

The last time Ben Beach was around for a Boston Marathon broadcast, on the radio, Lyndon Johnson was president and Beach was a high school student. The next year he ran, and has kept that up for the last 54 years, setting the race’s record for consecutive finishes. 

That’s where the record will end. This Monday, Beach, 72, will be watching, likely from home in Bethesda. After a late February bike crash left him with a broken neck, a five-week recovery period and seven weeks to go until race day, he decided last week that a two-week buildup was not going to set him up for success. 

“I just thought this is a fool’s errand, and as much as I care about that streak and how the race has been part of my existance since I was 18 years old, I just thought it was stupid and and unfair to my family,” he said. “My family has been very patient over the years. For the last 10 years, they’ve just sort of held their collective breath as I push it a little too far.”

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Reston’s Susanna Sullivan has run the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile frequently enough to know the course extremely well, but she didn’t get the home field advantage she really wanted.

While leading the race in the second half, she had her eyes trained on the press truck ahead of her, watching her Capital Area Runners teammate Eva Greenberg, looking for some kind of feedback or indication of how strong her lead was. But Greenberg, working as a press assistant for the race, didn’t betray her professional responsibilities and gave Sullivan nothing back.

“It was very quiet on Hains Point, so it was hard to figure out what was happening around me,” she said. “Usually, you can gauge by how people are cheering, but there was none of that. There were a few people clapping here or there, but they never gave me any intel on what kind of lead I had.”

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As RunWashington’s email goes out on March 9, 2022, the race is underway at the Barkley Marathons in Tennessee. In 2017, then-Rockville, Md. resident John Kelly won the race held in the park across the road from where he grew up. Here’s a look back at that race. Kelly is competing again this year, he now lives in England.


As fog rolled rapidly though the Cumberland Mountains in Eastern Tennessee, it created a strobe-like effect as dawn was breaking. From a fire tower, Rockville’s John Kelly could be seen, then not seen, then seen again… climbing a long hillside cleared for power lines.

Conrad Laskowski and Ed Aramayo watched Kelly pick up something orange, shake it around and put it on his head.

“It was a wool hat,” Laskowski said.

Photo: Conrad Laskowski
John Kelly climbs “Rat Jaw” on his fifth loop of the 2017 Barkley Marathons. Photo: Ed Aramayo

Even five days later, the excitement perked up Kelly’s otherwise calm even-keeled demeanor.

“I spotted that orange hat I’m like, ‘Score! this is awesome!” he said. “It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever seen.”

That hat, along with the plastic grocery bag he had fashioned into a poncho, helped Kelly, 32, mitigate the cold and rain and repurpose them to help propel him forward, with just a few miles to go in what was likely 130 miles over 59 hours and 31 minutes, over some of the most rugged terrain in distance running.

In 2017, he became the 15th person to complete the Barkley Marathons over 30 years, the first from the Washington, D.C. area.

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Running Shorts

  • The lottery for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile is open through 11:59 p.m. Jan. 16.
  • Former Northwood coach and security assistant Giovanni Reumante was arrested and charged with two counts of a sex offense for allegedly engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor student. Anyone with information about the case or who knows of other potential victims are encouraged to contact the Montgomery County Police Department Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400.
  • Prince George’s County will use its Sports and Learning complex as a COVID-19 vaccination site, taking it off the table for holding indoor track races this winter, which will prompt a change to outdoor winter meets in many cases.
  • The 2023 and 2024 U.S. Cross Country Championships will be held at Pole Green Park in Hanover County, Va., the first time the race has been held in Virginia. The Montgomery County, Md. Agricultural Farm Park played host to the race in 2009. In 2023, runners will compete for a spot on the U.S. team for the Pan American Games and the 2024 race will select the U.S. team for the World Championships. Each of the races will feature six national championship events, including: the U20 Women’s 6K Championship Race (under 20 years of age), U20 Men’s 8K Championship Race (under 20 years of age), Senior Women’s 10K Championship Race (open runners 20-39 years of age), Senior Men’s 10K Championship Race (open runners 20-39 years of age), Master’s Women’s 8K Championship Race (runners 40+ years of age) and Master’s Men’s 8K Championship Race (runners 40+ years of age). The events will also include the U.S. Armed Forces National Championships, as well as a citizen’s race that will be open to the community.
  • Oakton and American alumna Keira D’Amato won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships and was a guest on the More than Running Podcast.
  • Heritage alumna Weini Kelati was a guest on the C Tolle Run podcast.
  • Pacers Running Stores owner Chris Farley talked about his sub-three-hour* marathon streak on Pace the Nation.

 

 

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After an odd mixture of make-up cross country seasons in the spring – somewhat recognizable in Virginia, an empty-tasting few weeks in Maryland, and nothing in Washington, D.C. – the sport resumed its normal fall schedule in 2021. Local teams took home state titles in Maryland (Poolesville boys and Walter Johnson girls), Virginia (Oakton boys and Loudoun Valley girls) and, of course, D.C. (St. John’s). Owen McArdle, Thaïs Rolly and Ava Gordon all made the national Eastbay Cross Country Championships.

The RunWashington coaches panel recently met and decided the post-season honorees: the All-RunWashington team, which includes the top 10 boys and girls in our coverage area, and seven  more runners each in D.C., Maryland and Virginia runners. Our coverage area includes Washington, D.C.; Loudoun, Prince William, Fairfax and Arlington counties (and all independent cities therein); and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

Panelists included Gonzaga’s John Ausema, Georgetown Visitation’s Kevin Hughes, St. Albans and National Cathedral’s Jim Ehrenhaft, West Springfield’s Chris Pellegrini and Winston Churchill’s Scott Silverstein. This could not have been done without their input, along with input from countless other coaches, photographs lent by Ed Lull, Craig Amoss and Susie Shaffer and the databases maintained by Milesplit and Athletic.net and all of the race timers who chart the sport’s results.

You can see the regional teams here:

You can see this season’s cross country coverage here and view photos from those races here.

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