By Dickson Mercer

If Bethany Sachtleben tries out for cross country at George Mason University this fall, she will lack the high school running experiences other rising freshman will surely have.  On the other hand, Sachtleben, 20, who won this morning’s second annual Let Freedom Run 5K in Fairfax, VA in 18:26, has already run a marathon, which is uncommon for a runner her age.

[button-red url=”” target=”_self” position=”left”] Photos [/button-red]Sachtleben, by the way, didn’t just finish a marathon. In March, at the inaugural SunTrust Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon, the tennis and soccer player from Manassas, VA was 2nd in 3:08:43. (Sachtleben was home-schooled, she said, and starting running “casually” a few years ago.)

As for this Independence Day 5K, Sachtleben, who entered the race with a goal of breaking 20 minutes, said, “I think it was a lot more exhausting than the marathon because you just have to be all out the entire time. And it was nerve-wracking because I wanted to win, and there’s such a short time.

She won by more than a minute, and her time of 18:26 – on a sunny and humid morning – was well under her goal.

Meghan Blackstone, 18, of Bristow, VA (shown right) was 2nd in 19:27. Kristi Markowicz, 42, of Arlington, VA took third overall and the master’s title in 19:36.

In the men’s race, Philippe Rolly, 39, of McLean, VA set the pace through the opening mile in around 5:10. Around halfway, though, Rolly was caught by last year’s winner, Jordan McDougal, who cruised to repeat victory in 16:06. Rolly held on for 2nd in 16:42.

Heading into the race, Rolly had hoped to run about a minute faster, he said, but the heat and rolling course proved to be too much.

Rolly, meanwhile, has bests of 2:19 in the marathon and 29:40 for 10K, and for years ranked among this region’s best. In his mid-30s, with three children and a busy job, he lost interest, he said. As of late, though, Rolly, native to France, has been on something of a comeback. At the beginning of this year, he returned to training with a simple goal: to return to solid form before Aug. 24, when he will officially become a master.

As for McDougal, it was amazing he was racing at all. On Saturday, the 25-year-old national 50K champion and North Face-sponsored ultra runner was in Ecuador for a 50K race in which he got lost, got sick, and failed to finish.

This morning, he came out to support the racing team he has helped to organized for The Running Store in Gainesville, VA, he said. As it happened, three of his teammates were not far behind 3rd place finisher Eric Makovsky, 39, of Washington, D.C., who ran 17:18. Rob Bell, Keith Freeburn, and Joe Blackstone – all from Gainesville – were 4th through 6th, respectively.

“I was coming out to run with them today,” McDougal said. “If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have been out there.”

The Let Freedom Run 5K is staged on a loop course that starts and finishes at Fairfax Corner Shopping Center.  And as runners warmed up this morning in the parking lots or on a coned-off stretch of the course, it seemed for a time that they might at least benefit from overcast skies and a bit of a breeze.  About 15 minutes before the 9 a.m. start, though, out came the sun, and with it the expected heat.

It hardly deterred “Team Scotland,” a family team of six that featured Bob Johnson, 51, of Oakton, VA, his wife Carrol Anderson, 53, and Carrol’s sister, Gillian Anderson, 49, visiting from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Johnson noted that their Oakton home lost power for two days after Saturday’s storm. “But it didn’t keep us from training on Sunday,” he said.

Andrew and Martina Crichton of Woodbridge, VA turned Let Freedom Run 5K into a family outing as well. Their youngest daughter, Alex, 1, was along for the run in a jogging stroller. Their older daughter, Melissa, 4, ran the Kid’s Dash, which started an hour after the 5K.

The family’s jogging stroller has gone up to a half marathon so far, Crichton said, who added that he hopes bringing his children to road races will set a positive example of healthy living.

Incidentally, the Let Freedom Run 5K’s course also hosts the Halloween-themed Goblin Gallop, in which many participants race wearing costumes. For Let Freedom Run, the costumes stay at home, but participants in this young race have nonetheless started a tradition of celebrating Fourth of July by, for example, sporting the red, white and blue race t-shirt, carrying small flags, or wearing Uncle Sam top hats.

Debbie Whitfield, 39, of Potomac Falls, VA ran the race with her son, Tyler, 7. Tyler’s older brother ran as well, she said.

“My husband and I will run our races” – including marathons – “on our own,” she said. “Then we like to come and run with [our sons].”

Whitfield’s parents were there to cheer them on.

“So it’s a big family outing,” she said. “We’ll probably get together later and have a picnic, watch the fireworks. This is a great kickoff to Independence Day.”


McLean 5K Race Report

By James Moreland
McLean, VA
October1, 2011
For the Washington Running Report

Below, runners charge the final meters to the finish line. Above, the finish arch awaits.

In its fourth year this little race is starting to gain momentum. The first two years the winners of the race barely broke 19:00 on a course that, while never flat, has no hills of consequence. In the second year, hometown legend Ted Poulos measured the field and ran just fast enough to win in 18:42. Take note that Sarah Spalding finished only one second later to keep things interesting. Then in 2010 some very fast runners entered the fray. Michaela Courtney easily set the women’s event record in a sparkling 17:22 that was sixth overall a stride behind Craig Clar. Poulos who has a PR of 15:48 settled for a division win in 18:32. Mark Drath lowered the bar beating runner-up Christopher Pruitt by a 100 meters in 15:44. Finishers nearly doubled to just short of 300 finishers.

Now for 2011 the race was offering a 7-day Wyndham Worldwide Vacation for the overall winners as well as for a random winner. This helped the race to a record 360 finishers on a cool, breezy morning that started to spit rain just moments before the start of the event. Philippe Rolly, 39, who once possessed 29:00 10K speed returned after finishing third last year. He improved to 17:07, which was all alone again in third place. The battle for the top prize came from runners nearly half his age.

Ethan Rissell, 22, has not been on the radar in a year or so but he battled all the way to earn the runner-up spot in 15:23. Andrew Benford, 23, of Richmond showed what a powerful runner he was triumphing in an event record 15:09. One tired runner coming off a slower than normal race mused that nobody would beat 20:00. Back in March on the track Benford had set a PR 13:59.99 to break 14 minutes by the slimmest of margins.

Standing at the starting line there were no women revving up to dart out onto Old Dominion for the nearly mile climb, albeit a mild elevation change. Then at a half mile Win Persina, 51, who usually starts easy, started pushing the pace. Maybe she had noticed that grandmaster women, such as Cindy Conant at the Kensington 8k last week, have been winning it all. Maybe she felt she would like that vacation. Whatever the reason, she pulled away from everyone to win handily in 21:26. Mimi Comer, 13, of McLean was next in 22:14. Fourth place Jen Norris, 40, started back in the pack otherwise she may have caught third place Kristin Novak. The final half mile contains two steep, though short humps but the way Norris tore over them, they might as well have been flat.

The final 200 minutes is a lovely downhill that leads around the final corner with the finish line right away there.  The weather was not a problem during the race but it sure was nice to be able to shelter inside the little courtyard a few yards away after the race. And of course there was food and drink.

Maynard Weyers, 75, looked smooth and relaxed as he glided home in 27:36. That was nearly a minute and a half faster than his Run for the Door 5k just two weeks before.

After the race, tags like were torn off bib (like in the olden times) but this time they were deposited in that little green bucket. Everyone would get a chance for the 7-day Wyndham Worldwide Vacation.


Overall Female 

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Win Persina       Washington  DC   51  20      21:26     21:26    6:55/M  

 Overall Male

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Andrew Benford    Richmond  VA     23  1       15:09     15:09    4:53/M  

 Female 19 and Younger        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Mimi Comer        McLean  VA       13  28      22:07     22:14    7:08/M  
 2     Megumi Chen       McLean  VA       15  42      23:01     23:01    7:25/M  

 Male 19 and younger        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Sam Hutton        Annandale  VA    15  7       20:10     20:15    6:30/M  
 2     Wesley Fouse      Annandale  VA    16  8       20:11     20:15    6:31/M  

 Female 20 to 29        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Kristin Novak     Arlington  VA    27  39      22:54     22:55    7:23/M  
 2     Martha Mishkin    Fairfax  VA      28  69      24:37     24:47    7:56/M  

 Male 20 to 29        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Ethan Rissell     Alexandria  VA   22  2       15:23     15:23    4:58/M  
 2     Douglas Hickeg                     28  4       17:41     17:41    5:42/M  

 Female 30 to 39        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Luise Rodriguez   Germantown  MD   39  44      23:14     23:18    7:30/M  
 2     Genta Branstetter McLean  VA       39  54      24:12     24:28    7:48/M  

 Male 30 to 39        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Philippe Rolly    McLean  VA      39  3       17:07     17:08    5:31/M  
 2     Andrew Howley     Arlington  VA    34  6       19:54     19:55    6:25/M  

 Female 40 to 49        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Jen Norris        McLean  VA       40  40      22:57     23:06    7:24/M  
 2     Cynthia Hutchings McLean  VA       48  52      24:03     24:05    7:45/M  

 Male 40 to 49        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     David Fouse       Annandale  VA    45  13      20:43     20:46    6:41/M  
 2     Kevin Morin       McLean  VA       49  14      20:58     21:00    6:46/M  

 Female 50 to 59        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Pat Leighton      Falls Church  VA 52  83      25:21     25:30    8:11/M  
 2     Carla Freyvogel   McLean  VA       54  89      25:32     25:33    8:14/M  

 Male 50 to 59        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     John Bacon        Arlington  VA    55  12      20:35     20:36    6:38/M  
 2     Robert Salmon     McLean  VA       50  24      21:46     21:49    7:01/M  

 Female 60 to 69        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Gwen Davies       McLean  VA       67  205     31:56     32:01    10:18/M 
 2     Sharoos Newton    Chantilly  VA    65  317     43:23     43:38    14:00/M 

 Male 60 to 69        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Tom Noonan        McLean  VA       63  56      24:16     25:10    7:50/M  
 2     Les Irby          McLean  VA       61  74      24:51     25:14    8:01/M  

 Female 70 and Older        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Ellen O'Brady     Woodbridge  VA   75  184     30:55     30:55    9:58/M  

 Male 70 and Older        

 Place Name              City             Age Overall Chip Time Gun Time Pace    
 1     Maynard Weyers    Alexandria  VA   75  134     27:34     27:36    8:54/M  
 2     Bendy Viragh      Washington  DC   77  239     33:35     33:42    10:50/M



By James Moreland
Washington, DC
March 20, 2011
For the Washington Running Report

Below Gurmessa Megerssa breaks the tape.

In typical Washington Metro the weather juked us better than scoring guard in a NCAA March Madness tournament. Colder than normal most of the winter we were torched by nearly eighty on Friday. Saturday racers were greeted with wonderful spring weather in the mid sixties. Then as the real spring dawned at Freedom Plaza the temperatures dipped below freezing.

No matter; this race was all about awareness of a deadly cancer that can, in many cases, may be prevented by vigilant screening. The race was about raising money to find a cure. Just as with the other major “Cure” events, 05-01-11 Race for Hope – DC Presented by Cassidy Turley to benefit the Brain Tumor Society and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (Washington, DC) and the largest of all the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure set for June 4, 2011 in Washington, DC, this event brings caring, sharing people who want to find a cure.

The event had close to 2,000 finishers and nearly twice as many men as women. Nearly all of the runners that moved down Pennsylvania Avenue after crossing the ChronoTrack starting mats were there to celebrate survival of loved ones and the determination to move forward to a cure.

There were some top flight racers there as well. Three women had been ranked first in the area. Two of the men had as well. At the start Bert Rodriguez, 31, of Arlington, VA looked over the field but he already had a plan to break 15:00. The weather was perfect and the flat course was, “almost like a track.”  He was advised that the overall went just one deep and top ranked Gurmessa Megerssa was standing close by. Megerssa had finished a solid third overall at the Van Metere 5M in  24:49 just 24 hours ago.

Rodriguez, known as an 800M specialist, could not wait. The start was a 1-2-3 countdown by visiting Redskin Cheerleaders and he was off. He quickly took the lead, following by Adam Condit and Megerssa, who loped along after him like a dog playing in the park.

The race runs down to the Capitol and then does a loop on the eastern side before returning home. As runners approached that loop, many gasped and one shouted out in surprise as these two racing titans were already heading home, racing neck and neck. The wind was pretty mild. Still, Rodriguez lamented later that maybe he should have let Megerssa take some of the lead duties. At mile 2.25 Megerssa made his move which Rodriguez could not quite cover. Megerssa scored another overall win for the year in a very nice 14:55. Rodriguez broke the magic 15:00 barrier by a second.

Almost forgotten Condit (in photo) had a nifty 15:08 to take third overall and first in his age group. Fourth place is a former rankings champion who had won the St. Patrick’s Day race three times back when it was a 10K. Philippe Rolly, 38, of Arlington, VA has been training mega miles and is gearing up for next weekend’s National Marathon. He even ran the last year’s JFK 50.2 mile in a very credible 6:52:15. He lamented that he does not have much speed right now. His time of 16:42 would make most of the rest of us very proud. With abbreviated age groups, he settled into second behind Rodriguez.

Another Frenchman took the top masters spot. Jean Christophe Arcaz, 50, of Rockville, MD was a mortal lock in the traditional 50-54 division. Today the expanded set up with 45-59, he had his work cut out for him. He succeeded in 17:14 with a close battle from Robert Denmark, 45, of Arlington, VA flying home next in 17:26.

For the women, Susannah Kvasnicka, 36, of Great Falls, VA has had 34:30 10K speed. She might have been a co-favorite with Samia Akbar,28, of Herndon, VA the Army 10M record holder from 2009 with 55:25 or Claire Hallissey, 27 of Arlington, VA (below) who had won it all at the winter’s biggest 10K, the Jingle All the Way 10K in 35:17.

Kvasnicka has been absent and healing and is pretty much starting over. Her last race was sixth overall at the Kaiser Permanente Pike’s Peek 10K in April 2010 with 35:57. Akbar had finished second overall in the Fall Runner Rankings with her 27:00 overall win at the HCS 8K in the fall. Still it was clear Kvasnicka was just getting her feet wet and Hallissey only had to hold off Akbar which she did 17:52 to 17:56. Neither were ecstatic with their times but the season has just begun. Both will be faster than 17:00 by Memorial Day. Shortly after that Kvasnicka will be there too.

In the masters division, Lisa Chilcote, 40, of Oakmont, PA keeps moving up. She took the masters division by more than two minutes, finishing in 19:02. She was ninth in the fall Runner Rankings when she was listed as from Bethesda, MD. In the winter she moved up to fifth. He time today is her best masters effort…so far.

The stream of blue race T-shirts continued on for more than an hour. After the race, there were many nice refreshments for all of the participants.


                              Awards Listing 

Place Num   Name                   Age City                  Gun T Net T Pace  
===== ===== ====================== === ===================== ===== ===== ===== 
    1     5 Gurmessa Megerssa       31 Washington DC         14:55 14:55  4:48 

Place Num   Name                   Age City                  Gun T Net T Pace  
===== ===== ====================== === ===================== ===== ===== ===== 
    1  2329 Claire Hallissey        28 Arlington VA          17:52 17:51  5:45 

    1  1962 Jack Beecher            19 Washington DC         17:24 17:22  5:36 
    2  1075 Joseph Giammittorio     18 Falls Church VA       20:08 19:52  6:24 

    1  2604 Gillian Kramer          16 Cheverly MD           22:55 22:48  7:21 
    2  2519 Christine Downie        18 Arlington VA          26:09 23:32  7:35 

    1   747 Adam Condit             27 Ashburn VA            15:08 15:08  4:53 
    2   263 Neal Hannan             29 Washington DC         17:09 17:08  5:31 

    1     3 Samia Akabar            29 Oak Hill VA           17:56 17:55  5:46 
    2  1950 Nikeya Green            28 Centreville VA        19:11 19:10  6:10 

    1  2050 Bert Rodriguez          31 Arlington VA          14:59 14:59  4:50 
    2  1105 Philippe Rolly          38 McLean VA             16:42 16:42  5:23 

    1  2474 Kristin Murphy          30 Newton MA             18:19 18:19  5:54 
    2  1560 Lisa Chilcote           40 Oakmont PA            19:02 19:01  6:08 

    1    19 Jean-Christophe Arcaz   50 Rockville MD          17:14 17:14  5:33 
    2  2172 Robert Denmark          45 Arlington VA          17:27 17:26  5:37 

    1  1998 Patti Galleher          53 Denver CO             21:06 21:03  6:47 
    2  2334 Cathy Grable            45 Charlotte NC          21:21 21:17  6:51 

    1  2609 Bill Ference            60 Clifton VA            23:38 23:35  7:36 
    2   153 Michael Loney           60 Silver Spring MD      24:18 24:14  7:48 

    1   906 Deborah Schnabel        61 Fairfax VA            33:03 31:52 10:16 
    2   573 Stephanie Dalton        67 Washington DC         36:41 35:29 11:26

With the football season far away, Redskins Cheerleaders take a look at the new Washington Running Report.


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