By Dickson Mercer

For July, the weather was perfect. But at the fifth annual Crystal City Twilighter, held last night in Arlington, VA, there was something else in the air – in addition to a pleasant mist.


Regional USATF clubs – each able to enter multiple teams of three runners – competed for a top prize of $1,000 over a fast course.  (The course records are 14:03 for men and 16:21 for women.)

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Additionally, more than 100 prep runners – and roughly a dozen area high school club teams – participated in the High School Club Team Challenge. The top club team was Washington, DC’s Gonzaga College High School Club, while Nick Bussian of Nokesville, VA was the top prep runner, finishing in 16:53.

And for more than 20 police officers from Washington, DC and Northern Virginia, the Crystal City Twilighter was the capstone to seven weeks of training through a new program called Fit For Duty.

One of Fit For Duty’s volunteer coaches, Ty Heaton, said that all of the program’s participants finished and enjoyed the experience.

“They are looking to spread the word for next year, make it a bigger program … some want to do 5Ks in the fall to see how they can do,” he said.

In the men’s race, with less than a mile to go, Frank DeVar, Sean Graham, and Steve Hallinan – all in the lead pack – were focused on the same prize. As DeVar put it, the goal was to have their Pacers club go “one, two, three.”

“We all run with Pacers,” Graham said, who won in 15:03, two seconds ahead of DeVar. “We run together, train together – it’s hard not to race together, too.”

But Richmond’s Piotr Dybas sure made it interesting. With less than a quarter-mile to go, the 25-year-old made a bold move to the front. And while Graham and DeVar managed to reel him in, Dybas, 25, succeeded in splitting up the group. He took third in 15:08, holding off Pacers’ Steve Hallinan in 15:11 and Jeff Brannigan in 15:23.

The top team, officially, was DeVar, Hallinan, and Brannigan. Dybas led the second-place squad, RVATC, with fellow Richmond residents Jon Molz (7th, 15:43) and Guy Alton (8th, 15:45). In third was another Pacers squad – this one comprised of Graham, Tripp Southerland (12th, 16:12), and Chris Boyd (22nd, 16:43).

For the women, Maggie Infeld, who competes for the New York Athletic Club, won in 16:52.

Infeld, 26, of DC recently competed in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in both the 800 and the 1500, in which she placed 7th in 4:08.32. After the trials, Infeld, currently in her third year of medical school, started a surgery rotation, she said. As of late, she has had little time to run, let alone train.

“I love D.C. area road races because it forces you to get in a hard effort that’s hard to get in otherwise,” she said.

After Infeld, the next three spots belonged to Pacers’ Lauren Centrowitz (17:20), Kerri Gallagher (17:28) and Erin Koch (17:30) – all members of the winning club.

The 2nd place female team, Georgetown Running Company, was led by Laura O’Hara, who was 9th in 18:50, with teammates Teal Connor and Kyra Rathbun both just a second behind her.

Pacers’ 3rd place female team included Lindsay Ritchings (6th, 18:07), Ashley Campbell (14th, 19:15), and Veronica Tinney (22nd in 20:08).

In the master’s division, Edmund Burke (left) of Burtonsville, MD was top male in 16:35, good for 18th overall. Alisa Harvey of Manassas, VA was top female in 18:42, good for 8th overall.

For all runners, the cool temperatures were a relief.  (At last year’s race, the temperature was right around 100 degrees.)

“Given the last couple weeks,” Willis McCloud, 53, of Woodbridge, VA, said, “a lot of us were really apprehensive about what the conditions were going to be like today – so this was perfect.”

McCloud ran last year’s Marine Corps Marathon and now is training for a Tough Mudder competition, he said. And after finishing the race in 24:36, he cheered on other runners entering the final stretch – his way of returning the favor.

“There was a lot of fan participation during the race,” he said, “which for me always helps. I like when there are a lot of people on the sides, cheering, holding signs up.”

Fellow Marine Corps Marathon finisher Crystal Douglas, 47, who ran the race with her husband, Lewis Douglas, 45, also enjoyed the atmosphere, she said.

“It was very lively,” she said. “Plus, we’ve never done a night race – so that was cool.”

Cool, indeed.

“Compared to last year,” DeVar said of the weather, “this was perfection.”


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