Claire Hallissey wasn’t expecting to run an event record Saturday during the Lawyers Have Heart 10k.
“I did a track workout on Thursday,” the 2012 British Olympian said.
Yet the 30-year-old Arlington resident still ran a 34:33, bettering the previous event record by 9 seconds on a cool, overcast morning in Georgetown.
In fact, Hallissey and second place finisher Susanna Sullivan of Falls Church are only the second and third women to break 35 minutes in the event’s 23-year history, taking advantage of the good, June running conditions.
“She turned it on the last mile and just blew me away,” Sullivan, 23, who won last October’s Marine Corps 10k, said.
Sullivan finished in 34:48, just off the previous event record of 34:42 set in 1992 by Baltimore’s Charlotte Thomas.Wayinshet Hailu, 26, came in third at 36:06.
Event organizers called the 1992 10k course much more difficult than Saturday’s having trekked through many more hills around Georgetown’s residential areas.
The course has changed several times in the event’s history. This year’s started on K Street under the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown. Runners looped up to the freeway, ran down Canal Street, and turned back near Georgetown’s reservoir.
Hallissey’s appearance on Saturday took runners and event organizers by surprise, not expecting the Olympian, who turned in a 2:35:39 marathon in last summer’s London games, to run.
“I’m happy with how I’m running right now,” Hallissey said, noting her last few 10ks were in the 34-minute range.
Sullivan was trying to sneak up on Hallissey after a slower start and moved just a few strides behind her at the race’s turnaround point near the reservoir.
At that point, Capital Area Runner teammate and men’s leader Chris Mills shouted encouragement, seeing her in second place.
“Then, it was game over,” Sullivan said, referring to Hallissey’s talent and experience. “I had to show my cards.”
Hallissey said later she knew a female competitor was on her heels from the crowds yelling support to those behind her.
Mills, who went on to win the men’s race, called the high 60 degree weather at the start the “perfect temperature.”
Mills of Falls Church broke away from the pack after about 3.5 miles and cruised to a time of 31:15, better second place finisher Birhanu Mekonen by 26 seconds. Dave Burnham of Arlington came in third place with a 32:03.
The men were well off their event record of 29:51 set by Ethoipia’s Gurmessa Kumsa in 2006.
Mekonen and Hailu said after the race they were hampered by a late arrival to the race site and didn’t have a chance to conduct their full warm up.
Mills was proud of his running even splits, coming through the 5k at 15:38. The 23-year-old expected to run a great time, following a 29:09 performance at April 20’s Pike Peek 10k in Rockville.
Women’s fourth place finisher Barbara Fallon Wallace ran a 36:33 and called the conditions a bit muggy. The 39-year-old won last year’s race just 18 months after giving birth to twins.
“At least it was cloudy,” Fallon Wallace said. “It could have been 90 degrees.”
In fact, extreme temperatures two years ago caused organizers to shorten the race to a 5k.
But the event hosted a 5k – aside from 2011’s impromptu change – for the first time in several years in 2013.
The Capital Area Runners dominated the women’s side, taking the top three spots. Erin Taylor, 31, of Arlington led the way with an 18:08, followed by Ashley Kollme of Chevy Chase in 19:07 and Mary Christopher of Washington in 20:32.
“Whenever you can get your teammates in the top three, that’s great,” Taylor said.
Jack Riely, 19, of Silver Spring won the men’s 5k in 16:38.
Kristi Markowicz, 43, of Arlington was the women’s masters winners with a time of 39:13. Edmund Burke, 43, of Burkesville, Md. won the men’s masters race in 33:27.
The event, held annually since 1991, benefits the American Heart Association. Flocks of the law firms around the area organize teams to generate money for the group. So far, the event has raised more than $8 million for the cause.
So far this year, teams have raised in excess of $750,000, according to the event’s website. McDermott Will & Emery raised nearly $20,000 as of Saturday.
“It’s just nice to see some law firms — who don’t have a reputation for promoting the common good — have one Saturday where we’re out for the common good,” Jones Day attorney Ben Katz, 28, said following the race.
His firm raised more than $2,600 for the American Heart Association.
“In the legal community you hear a lot about people who have heart disease,” Jones Day’s Owen Conroy, 30, said. “It’s just nice to show support.”
The backs of Krooth & Altman’s bright yellow team shirts read “Run to remember, Run to Prevent,” an ode to the event’s well-being message.
“A lot of us have had family members or friends we’ve lost to heart disease,” paralegal Kelly Behr said.
The grandfather of Jonathan Singer, 29, of O’Melveny & Myers had a stroke, and building awareness for that was important to him.
“We want to serve the community in a legal capacity, but also give back,” Singer said, adding he ran his first ever road race Saturday, finish the 5k in 32:06.
His team had about twice as many people run this year with about 32 runners.
Many area attorneys run merely for the camaraderie.
“We’ve done this four years now, and every year have doubled in sized,” Paul Brinkman of Quinn Emanuel said.
Lawyers competed in teams of based on law firm size and practice type. Individuals competed for awards based on time in categories such as private practice, corporate lawyer, government lawyer, non-lawyer legal professional, paralegal, law student, and summer associate.
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