If David Sullivan meets someone and tells them he’s a runner, they invariably ask him if he does marathons.
“To them it’s like nothing else exists,” he said. “But I get it.”
Not so for Sullivan and the members of his Athletics East Track Club who will race at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships this Saturday at Lehigh University.
Of the 16 masters runners who will compete for the club’s teams, 14 are D.C.-area locals, and Sullivan, of Kingstowne, hopes to keep giving runners over 40 a life beyond the marathon grind.
He found West Springfield resident Bob Briggs at Burke Lake one weekend earlier this year, during the club’s weekly Saturday run.
“David came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you look like a pretty fast old guy – want to run with us?'” Briggs said. Briggs is 62 and shooting for a sub-3 at the Houston Marathon in January. Soon enough, Briggs became a member of Athletics East, which Sullivan managed and coached while living in his native Boston, then revived in 2018.
Running is typically a choice for Susanna Sullivan. It’s been her sport since she was at George Mason High School and her hobby even longer.
But as the October sunset started to overtake her in Maine’s Acadia National Park, the darkness forced her close to her race pace, or else she was going to be in trouble. She had finished up a hard run on the hilly dirt roads she is so fond of and stopped to report back to her coach, George Buckheit.
“I was in a national park by myself and it was getting pitch-black,” she said. “I was planning to walk back to my car when I was done, but I just had to run harder than I had for the workout.”
Light was fading fast, but by the time she was safely back to the car, she welcomed back a sensation she hadn’t felt in years. And she certainly hadn’t felt it in the six weeks she had been running on land consistently.
“I felt amazing,” she said. “For the first time I felt like I was really on the right track.”
Outside of mammoth races like the Army Ten-Miler, Marine Corps Marathon and the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, Thanksgiving is the busiest day of road racing in the D.C. area. Last years, 13 turkey trots totaled 21,214 finishers just in their timed divisions, to say nothing about fun runs, walks and tot trots, many of which these events sport.
This year at least 16 races will kick off around the D.C. area, with another one following a few days later.
Run hard, run for fun, wear a turkey costume, wear a pie costume if you can find one…whatever does it for you, the options are out there in D.C., Virginia and Maryland.
Note that the Virginia Run Turkey Trot and the Turkey Trot for Parkinsons in Lorton have both taken hiatuses. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done for good – the Cheverly Trot is making a comeback this year.
Ahead of the Virginia state championships, West Springfield coach Chris Pellegrini figured the race would essentially be a dual meet with Oakton.
In a dual meet, a 1-2-3 sweep can’t be beaten. While muti-team meets are a little more forgiving, seniors Sean Stuck, Sam Pritchard and Chris Weeks made the Spartans a tough act to follow. Stuck won the race overall, running the 5k course at Great Meadow in 15:21, the fastest time of the day. Second place Wesley Bond of Landstown and third place Bryce Lentz of Colgan didn’t have teams in the race, so Pritchard’s 15:50 and Weeks’ 15:53 counted as second and third for scoring purposes.
Buried back in 56th place last year, Walter Johnson’s Jenna Goldberg knew her state meet performance wasn’t what she felt was possible. But it wasn’t as much because of her then-recently-diagnosed anemia. It was her confidence.
“I definitely felt stronger, significantly better, but I’m just in a much better place mentally,” she said soon after winning the 2019 4A title in 17:50. “Every race this year gave me the opportunity to experiment with different racing styles and see how they worked. By the end, I proved that easing into the race was the best strategy for me.”
Two years ago, the D.C. state meet looked like the fertile mud of Kenilworth Park was growing something special. With sophomores sweeping the first three spots on the boys’ side, it was natural to ask what a race among Gavin McElhennon, Luke Tewalt and Cullen Capuano would look like with two more years of growth and experience.
In the end, Capuano ran alone in front from the very start to win, running 16:35 for what several coaches felt to be longer than 5k. McElhennon finished ninth, easing his way back into racing following a long injury while Tewalt, hobbled with tendinitis in his knee, watched from the sidelines, having suited up just for the DCXC Invitational.
Jordan Tropf just wanted to see what he could do.
Turns out, he could win the Marine Corps Marathon.
Leading from the start, the 27-year-old Silver Spring resident built a lead of a 1:26 at the halfway point and went on to win by 70 seconds in 2:27:43, much of the second half coming in a driving rain.
“I felt good, so I went early, but nobody went with me,” he said. “I got a little worried after a while, because there are always a lot of good people back there and they can get you in the second half.”
The marathon course will weave through Arlington County before crossing the Key Bridge into Georgetown, taking a trip up and down Rock Creek Parkway, around Hains Point and the National Mall before crossing back into Arlington, where runners will finish by climbing the hill to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Rosslyn. The 10k follows the last 6.2 miles of the marathon route. The 50k will add just short of 4k out and back on Canal Road to the west after runners cross the Key Bridge.
You can track runners here. Read on to learn about the best way to watch the race, why you shouldn’t run using someone else’s bib, who has run every Marine Corps Marathon and find out about the time the race was a day away from cancellation.
Army Spec. Elvin Kibet did in her first try what her husband, Olympic 10k runner Shadrack Kipchirchir, couldn’t in three — win the Army Ten-Miler.
And thanks to cool weather that was a treat to runners who had suffered through the last two muggy editions, she broke Kerri Gallagher’s event record, running 54:05 to Gallagher’s 54:50 from 2014 on a course that was altered last year to avoid the deteriorating Arlington Memorial Bridge. She and men’s winner Lawi Lalang (48:38) are both members of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. They were also college teammates at the University of Arizona.
For Shauneen Werlinger, a trip to the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials figured to be the culmination of a long development that started at Thomas Jefferson High School, continued through a spectacular collegiate career and evolved to include her career and family.
But instead of competing in Atlanta, she’ll be following the race alongside her husband and children. Instead of growing the Trials field by one, she’s growing her family by one, with a son due in January.
The decision to pass on the race is one Werlinger, 34, said she did not take lightly.