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by Dickson Mercer July 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm 3 Comments

The

The Crystal City Twilighter 5k‘s seventh running was a who’s who of the regional running scene.

Area running clubs emptied their stables. The course was new – faster, with fewer turns. And conditions, while not good for racing, exactly, were about as good as they get for late July in downtown Arlington. No 98 degrees (2011) or downpours (2013).

[button-red url=”http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=4127″ target=”_self” position=”left”] 5k Results [/button-red]All told, 28 men broke 16 minutes, with Chris Kwiatkowski, RunWashington’s top-ranked runner in 2013, breaking the tape in 14:37. Kwiatkowski, 25, also led his Pacers/New Balance team to victory in the co-ed club team competition, a squad that included women’s winner Kerri Gallagher, who came through in 17:22. (In the women’s race, by the way, the top 23 broke 20 minutes, with 11 going under 19.)

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Kwiatkowski, who ran close-to-even 4:40 miles, said. “This was my first time doing this. I have been a part of this for four years – coming to watch, helping out – but never to race. So it was an excellent day to come out and compete and have some fun.”

Kwiatkowski was followed by Pacers-New Balance teammates Landon Peacock (14:47), Leoule Degfae (14:50), and Frank Devar (14:51). Kevin McNab, in 14:55, was the fifth and final runner under 15 minutes, leading Georgetown Running Club to second in the team standings. GRC was followed by DC Road Runners Club, Northern Virginia Running Club, and Capital Area Runners.

Last year, Claire Hallissey led Gallagher through a too-quick first mile. Gallagher faded to third, she recalled.

This year she had a very different strategy. “The plan,” Gallagher’s roommate and training partner, Amy Laskowske, said, “was that she could help me through the first mile. And then I kept telling her to go, and she wouldn’t go.”

At the three-mile mark, Gallagher finally gave in, while Laskowske still finished just three seconds back. Lindsay O’Brien, of Georgetown Running Club, was third in 17:56.

“It was really good to kind of go in with a better plan and be a little more conservative,” Gallagher said.

Kwiatkowski and Gallagher each earned $200 for their efforts. The top three teams each received $250.

In the masters division, Patrick Kuhlmann, 43, won in 16:12. Shannon Smith, 48, was top female master in 21:20.

“I’m the old guy,” the unassuming Kuhlmann, said, as a way of identifying himself at the award’s stage. He took the same honor last weekend at the Rockville Twilight.

***

If you think racing in the summer can be tough, try two in one day. That’s what Mike Cannon, 56, of Fairfax Station, did as part of his quest to run more than 100 races in 2014.

Asked how his race went, Cannon said, “I ran a 5k up in Baltimore this morning so I didn’t have the legs for it.”

Andrew Gray and Alan Bornbusch, two Arlington runners and members of one of Pacers’ Tuesday night running groups, enjoyed the race, they said, though perhaps for slightly different reasons.

Bornbusch, 53, said his 22:39 finish served him well in training for his first half marathon this fall.

“It’s a nice little piece of speed work,” he said.

For Gray, 31, who came in just a few seconds shy of breaking 20 minutes, the race was more like a piece of cake, even if a head cold made it difficult.

“It’s a good way to spend my birthday,” he said. “That way I can make room for brunch tomorrow.”

***

He finally had it.

After years of trying, Arlington’s Matt Deters broke 16 minutes by a clump of hairs – 15:58. He confirmed his time at a laptop at the registration table.

“When I was in high school, if you ran under 16 you were a god,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, after a torn Achilles and knee surgery.”

He was close on the fourth of July, running 16:06 at the Firecracker 5k in Reston.

At Crystal City, he split 4:49 and 10:03 before hanging on as the heat, and the hurt, turned up.

***

Look out for Thomas Edison High School’s cross country team.

The Edison Club won its second-straight title in the high school team competition. Gonzaga, Annandale, Wilson, and J.E.B. Stuart also fielded clubs.

The Walt Whitman Club won in the high school girls division, followed by Annandale, Lake Braddock, Wilson, and Georgetown Visitation.

Brandon Rockers, a rising senior at Edison who was third for his club in 17:47, said running the Crystal City Twilighter has become a team tradition. “The race has always been before a running camp” members of the team attend, Rockers said.

In the high school results, Aviad Gebrehiwot, 17, of Annandale High School, was top male in 16:44. Sonya Butseva, 16, and teammate Kate Murphy, 14, both running for Lake Braddock Club, were the top females, both finishing in 20:49.

Look out, as well, in the 11 to 14 age group.

Madalyn Wright, 11, was 3rd in the female division behind Murphy and Angelica Gaughran, also 14. Her time was 22:57.

Wright was wearing a tutu, and said she has now run about half-a-dozen races between 5k and 10k.

“I love running,” said Madalyn, whose mother, Myra Wright, ran in high school and is a longtime runner.

Madalyn was 6 when she ran her first race. “I kept saying,” Myra Wright recalled, as they ran together that first time, “the tortoise wins: slow and steady finishes the race. And she kept saying, ‘Mom, I want to go faster.’ So at two and a half I said, ‘Madalyn, ‘Go!’ and she just took off.’

That’s how it has been ever since, said Wright, who had a finishing time of 24:16 on her watch.

“I tell you, it motivates me to run faster when you know your little girl is up there.”

by Dickson Mercer April 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm 0

Christine Ramsey of Baltimore won the Pike's Peek 10K in Montgomery County this morning. Photo: Mark Schadly.

Christine Ramsey of Baltimore won the Pike’s Peek 10k in Montgomery County this morning. Photo: Mark Schadly.

The fourth try was the charm for Christine Ramsey, who broke the tape at the Pike’s Peek 10k Sunday morning in 34:43.

The Baltimore runner debuted here in 2008, finishing 5th in 36:19.  Four years later, she returned, running more than 90 seconds faster but finishing two spots lower. Last year, another solid showing got her 11th.

Enter 2014.  This morning, two miles in, Ramsey, 31, found herself in the lead pack with about half a dozen women all running well under six minutes per mile. “I felt pretty strong, so I picked it up,” she said. “They were still pretty close behind me, but nobody went with me.”

[button-red url=”https://www.mcrrc.org/pikes-peek-10k-8″ target=”_self” position=”left”] 10k Results [/button-red] At mile 4, Ramsey surged again, holding onto a slim lead over Alexandria’s Lindsay O’Brien, on the way to a new personal best of 34:43 and a $500 pay day. “It was great because we pushed each other,” she said of her competitors.

Ramsey, as of late, has been more focused on reaching the finish line of her PhD program than on trying to win races. She recently turned in her dissertation; the defense is in two weeks. “So it felt good to have a good race,” said Ramsey, who will move to New Haven, Conn., soon to start a post-doctoral position.

All but 70 seconds separated Ramsey from Selamawit Lemma in 5th. O’Brien was 2nd; it was her second-straight sub-35-minute showing here. Columbia’s Julia Roman-Duval was 3rd in 35:05, followed by Loring Crowley of Winston Salem, N.C., in 35:23. Kensington’s Cindy Conant, 53, was the top master in 38:08.

On the men’s side, Nahom Mesfin, running his first Pike’s Peek, took the lead early and never looked back. He was all alone, pumping his arms on the long downhill to the finish line and waving to the crowd, winning in a net time 28:28, 22 seconds off Julius Kogo‘s event record set in 2011.

Mesfin, a former Olympic steeplechaser, is living in Alexandria, and is transitioning to longer races, he said.  To that end, he recently returned from a four-month training trip to his native Ethiopia.

Early in the race, Mesfin questioned the feedback he was getting from his watch, he said. He was seeing kilometer splits in the low 2:30s, but the pace felt a slower than that, he said. “I was not in a good mood.”

Less than a half hour later, his mood had changed.

“I am so excited, and so happy,” said Mesfin, who had been disappointed with his performance at the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run earlier this month.

Baisa Moleta, also of Alexandria, was 2nd in 29:04, followed by Dereje Deme of Silver Spring in 29:09. Gurmessa Megerssa, a Washington, D.C., resident via Ethiopia who reigned supreme over the local roads in 2006 and 2007, closed hard down the final straight to clock 29:19. Getachew Asfaw of Silver Spring rounded out the top five.

Bethesda’s Conrad Laskowski, 7th in 30:12, ran with the lead pack early on alongside Gaithersburg’s Chris Sloane, 8th in 30:33.

“I was trying to run under 30,” Laskowski said. “Came up a little short, but I am happy with it. It’s a PR.”

Philippe Rolly, 41, of McLean, was top master in 31:37.

Downhill, fast, and cool

For Pike’s Peek, runners start on Redland Road near the Shady Grove Metro station, make a quick left on Route 355 and bee-line it south past the White Flint station, where a big downhill covers the last .2 miles. “It is probably the fastest 10k you can get without going on the track,” Ramsey said.

That, as it happens, is only part of its appeal. In addition to professional-level competition, former race director Jean Arthur can only remember two years when this Montgomery County Roads Runners event had bad weather. This year, the temperature was cool, and the way the finish line banner was flapping, you knew the wind was at runners’ backs.

“I ran it for the first time last year, and I thought it was so good I came back again,” said Brian Carlson, a nine-time marathoner who started running in 1988. The Reston Runners member, who is 67, likes the net-downhill course. Plus, he said, “It’s a very well-run race.”

“You know it’s net downhill, so you know you’re going to get a pretty good time,” said Jody Gil, who came close to achieving her goal of breaking 53 minutes.

Gil ran with her longtime friend Jared Sher for six-plus miles. “He turned on the guns at the end,” she said.

Leland Hao ran the race with his son, Kelvin Hao, 11. It was Kelvin’s first 10k, and the smile on his face afterward suggested he’ll have no problem finishing the Disneyland 10k in late August.

When Kelvin’s younger sister was hospitalized for cephalitis, he met other kids his age fighting a rare childhood disease called ataxia-telangiectasia, also referred to as Louis-Bar syndrome, Leland Hao said. In Anaheim, Calif., Kelvin’s race will raise money for the A-T Children’s Project, which seeks a cure.

The race had a wave start to accommodate about 2,500 participants, and for the first time offered pacing teams. Bethesda’s Danny George, typically a 36-minute 10k runner, helped about 10 runners meet their goal of breaking 45 minutes.

“I just wanted to stay even and give them a little head start,” George said. “That way, once they got to the top of the hill, they could just coast right in.”

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