At the finish line in quaint Leesburg under clear blue skies, recent-graduate and former George Mason University runner Jimmy Luehrs threw a jubilant fist-pump in the air after taking first place overall in the 27th annual Leesburg 20k in 1:07:20.
Winning the women’s division of the race in 1:15:32 was Bethany Sachtleben, another recent George Mason graduate, former George Mason runner, and friend of Luehrs’.
The 22-year-old Luehrs, having run at George Mason for four years, was well-prepared mentally and physically for the rigors of the race.
[button-red url=”http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=5157″ target=”_self” position=”left”] 20k Results [/button-red]“I wanted to pace myself and I took it easy for the first two to three miles. I then started to pick it up at around the five-mile mark,” he said. “At the nine-mile mark, I was really hurting but near the finish line the world started to slow down a bit, and I was so glad to get the win.”
This past spring after receiving a Bachelor’s in Earth Science with a concentration in Atmospheric Science, Luehrs took on work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On the side, he’s an assistant coach at his alma mater, Herndon High School.
Jerry Greenlaw finished in second place with a time of 1:10:17, and Miles Aitken got the bronze with a time of 1:14:25.
[button-red url=”http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=5158″ target=”_self” position=”left”] 5k Results [/button-red]Homeschooled her whole life until she enrolled at George Mason, 23-year-old Sachtleben’s second place finishes in the 5k and 10k at the Atlantic 10 outdoor track championships helped George Mason win the championship. Though 10k was generally the limit of her long-distance racing in college, she had run a half marathon, in Prince William Forest Park, prior to the 20k and she made it clear that she prefers the longer distances as opposed to the speed-intensive 5K. “I love this distance and this race never really hurt,” she said. She started the race going at 6:20 pace and then gradually went down to 5:40 pace.
Since finishing her finance degree, Sachtleben is looking into professional running.
Emily Potter took second among women in 1:18:13, and Shauneen Werlinger’s with a time of 1:19:04 rounded out the top three.
The race was certainly not short of variety; the competition pool consisted of a number of different countries-of-origin, academic backgrounds and race resumes.
Deedee Loughran, 57 , was born and raised around London. “I’ve been here in the states for 20 years, and came here because of my husband’s business,” she said. Especially impressive was her ability to run through a hamstring injury in route to winning her 55-59 age group in 1:30:37. She’s been running for about 17 years and is no stranger to the 20k distance, having run 10 of them. Not only is she a regular participant in Reston Runners but she’s also on the Potomac River Running team which had a significant presence at the race — the local chain sponsors the race.
Sergey Yudkovsky, 40 years old, was born in Ukraine. He finished in 43rd in the men’s division with a time of 1:27:24.
Now, it’s not often that someone is progressing towards a third degree while working full-time at a major corporation and finding the time to run…. But this is how to describe Mike Iserman. Iserman, 43 years old, went to University of Maryland – Baltimore County for a B.S. in computer science, then went to Loyola University (also located in Maryland) for an M.B.A. Now, he’s pursuing another higher degree at Johns Hopkins University; the degree will relate to computer science. While pursuing the degree, he holds a job at Oracle as a sales support associate and yet still finds the time to run. “It’s the first thing I do every day,” he said. He was clearly prepared from a nutritional standpoint, noting that prior to the race he had a hearty meal of oatmeal, protein powder, and blueberries and during the race he had a UCAN sports drink. “It’s not sugar based, so it’s not a cause of a blood sugar spike,” he added. He finished in 2:02:25
While the weather in Leesburg at the 7:30 a.m. start of the race was a cool 64 degrees, the temperature rose steadily throughout, and at 8:30 a.m. shortly before the first runners came in the temperature went up to 70. With an hour to go before the course closed at 10:30, the mercury hit the high 70s.
Relatively speaking, the weather conditions were mild for the 914 runners who ran a course primarily consisting of W&OD trail running. Speaking to the overall experience, race director Mike Kiernan offered some invaluable insight into the history of the race. “In the past it’s gotten really hot; the temperature has risen to the high 80s and low 90s towards the end of the race,” Kiernan said. He added that “while the race is now mainly on the W&OD, it hasn’t always been that way. There used to be more running on the streets around here.”
In addition to the runners, the neon-green-shirted finish line volunteers, and Commonwealth Race Management which can be credited for race logistics, a number of organizations were present including YMCA Loudoun County, INOVA Mobile Services Rehab, Run Ashburn, and Sport-and-Spine Rehab.
Certainly one of the unsung heroes of the race experience was Officer Mark, with 29 years of experience. Mark has now helped with traffic management of each of the 27 Leesburg 20k races, including this year’s edition. “Some people thank me, and I enjoy being out here,” he said.
Emerging from the Metro station felt different this year to the 1,700 runners who turned out for the Crystal City Twilighter 5k Saturday. Even before the sun went down, cooler, drier air prevailed over a course that once boasted 98 degree temperatures during the 2011 race.
The favorable conditions were lost on many of the top-tier runners who didn’t return, which affected the race’s depth. The 28 men who finished faster than 16 minutes in 2014 was cut to 10 in 2015. The 10 sub-19 minute women from 2014 held steady.
[button-red url=”http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=5099″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Arlington’s Chris Kwiatkowski repeated as the men’s winner, running 14:56, just enough to win over Baltimore’s Andy Weaver four seconds back. Arlington’s Clint McKelvey trailed Weaver by three seconds. Last year, Kwiatkowski won in 14:37, with four other following under 15 minutes. His margin put the Pacers Elite team comfortably ahead of the Georgetown Running Club in the team competition.
Emily Potter, of Alexandria, won the women’s race by two seconds over Shauneen Werlinger, finishing in 17:55. Katie Kieran, of Arlington, was third in 18:06.
“I didn’t really have a plan, except not to lead early,” Potter said. “After the first mile, the crowd started to thin out and I could see where the other women were, and I started picking it up after the second mile mark. I didn’t want to have to sprint too hard right at the finish line.”
Werlinger, Kieran and fifth place Sarah Bishop, all part of the winning Georgetown Running Club team for the women’s division, had some pacing held early on from Bethesda’s Craig Shearer, a member of the Northern Virginia Running Club.
“I thought I was on pace to run a little faster, the humidity caught up with me a little,” he said. “I was right on for the first two miles, but I lost my momentum at the turnaround.”
Pelvic stress fractures have kept him out of racing for about three years, and this was his fourth race in that span.
Though she was off her typical 5k pace, the race was a triumph for D.C.’s Mary Grace Pellegrini. Two months removed from a torn ACL, she ran 22:22 but most importantly, breezed past the soccer field on Long Bridge Drive in miles two and three where a recreational soccer game put her in the hospital.
“It felt a lot better to be running by instead of lying on the ground,” she said.
Ann Mazur traveled from Charlottesville to race, but over the last six days had come a lot farther than that. She started Monday at her family’s home in Pittsburgh, traveled to Charlottesville, then took the train to New York City and back on Thursday.
“I should have known it was a little ambitious, but the racing scene up here is worth it,” she said. “It’s flat, it’s just fun racing in DC and a change from the Charlottesville scene.”
Her 18:37 finish was off of her 18:12 time the year before, when she took the lead and “fell apart quickly.”
“I fell apart again, just not as dramatically,” she said.
Jodie Patrick of Vienna didn’t run for a time, but she felt like it was “a PR race.”
Her husband, Dick, who once covered track and field for USA Today, paced her for a mile and a half before going off on his own.
“I really enjoyed the whole thing, it was much hotter last year,” she said. “I realized when they did the ages I was going to be on the younger end of the 55-59 group and I ended up winning.”
Despite the reliable mercury-busting temperatures, Don Bowman insists that the Rosaryville Trail races are aimed at beginner ultra runners. This year’s running of the 10k, 10 mile, 25k and 50k runs around Rosaryville State Park took place on the hottest day of the year, with dew points bottoming out in the low 70s and temperatures reaching the mid 90s five hours into the race.
[button-red url=”http://www.bluepointtiming.com/files/results/2015/Rosaryville%20overall.htm” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]”We designed it for the novice runners,” Bowman, the race director, said. “They get to run next to the runners who are experienced and they can say they ran with these great trail runners, they don’t have three legs or anything special. They learn that they could be like the people in the front if the race agrees with them and they want to improve.”
Indeed, both of the winners were relative neophytes, each on their third 50k or longer race.
Chris Patrick, who won the women’s 50k title in 4:56:40 ( a 9:32 average), set her sights low but finished high — third overall.
“It’s cheesy, but I just wanted to have fun,” she said. “If I won, that would be nice, but I just wanted to enjoy myself. It was a very specific kind of fun.”
Patrick, a 21-year-old Serverna Park resident, started “painfully slow” and then moved up in the second of three nearly-10-mile laps, though her third was “a lot of whimpers.”
“”Trail racing is great because even when everything is feeling terrible, you can still look around and everything is wonderful.”
She isn’t a frequent racer, has never run a marathon and rarely, if ever, competes on the roads. She signed up for Rosaryville two weeks ago while looking for a challenge. That contrasts with men’s winner Jarrod Brennet, of D.C., who focused on this race and conducted a deliberate taper.
“There was no way I was going to back out,” he said, when weather forecasts warned of high temperatures and humidity. “I wanted to prove I could do a fast 50k.”
He too struggled over the third loop, but a winter 50 miler in the Everglades still felt hotter than Rosaryville, so running 7:50s en route to a 4:03:38 finish wasn’t as impossible, but it still required some adjustment. At 25, he’s still new to ultarunning.
“I was going to run by heart rate, but early on I was 20 beats per minute faster than my target so I had to forget about that and just go by feel,” he said.
The forested loops of the park in Upper Marlboro, Md. were almost entirely single-track, with clearings dotting the loop and bathing runners in sun. The last mile stretch to the finish was completely exposed to the sun, giving runners one last challenge. Sixty-eight people finished the 50k, skewing slightly female, and 82 finished the 25k, just slightly favoring the men. The looped course made it easier for runners to downgrade their distance, an option Rosemary Lather, of Columbia, took.
“I got to the second aid station, which was about halfway through the course, and I felt like I had run more than half of the race,” she said. “I decided to head back early, and because of that, I feel like a million bucks.”
Like Patrick, she was a relative last-minute registrant. Her children pleaded with her not to do the 50k, her husband was more understanding. She responded by taking off her wedding ring during the race, but it wasn’t to pick up sweaty runners.
“My hand was swelling and my ring finger turned purple,” she said. “It took a lot of Vaseline to get it off. I’d recommend people not wear jewelry for hot races like this.”
She’s new to the trails, and hopes to reap the benefits when she races either the Erie, Richmond or Houston marathons.
“I knew to not even think about trying to run a certain pace,” she said.
Meredith Gray of Bowie, a recent transplant from Ohio, adjusted her goals for the 25k, part of her training for the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis this Fall.
“I knew conditions were going to be tough,” she said. “I walked when I needed to. I haven’t felt summer weather like this, but I kept telling myself that it will pay off when the weather cools down.”
Aaron Gow, of Dumfries, also sees his trail running experience making a difference in his road racing. He’s run more than two dozen half marathons. The Rosaryville 25k was his first-ever trail race, done with his girlfriend’s encouragement.
“It was a challenge course for someone used to running on the roads,” he said. “I’m assuming if I do this more often, my road running will improve.”
His girlfriend, who ran the 50k, tried to set him up for success with a series of training runs on trails ahead of time.
“I was told slow the pace down, eat at all the rest stops, take in a whole lot of water and just walk the hills,” he said. “Basically, check my ego at the door. On a day like today, it wasn’t too hard to do that. We never got a break from the humidity and the heat just kind of built up the entire time.”
The 50k boasted 68 finishers, and 82 ran the 25k.
[button-red url=”http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.racebx.com/transfer/gen/5/5/9/5597e27f-9054-456c-9455-52afc0a86526/2015-Firecracker-Overall.htm” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]The crowd erupted as Abu Kebede Diriba and Gregory Mariano rounded the corner onto Market Street in the final 200 meters of the Firecracker 5k, Saturday at Reston Town Center. The men had pounded the wet pavement neck and neck for most of the race, and now cut through the rain in a fight to the finish. But after a quick glance over his right shoulder, Diriba, an Ethiopian marathoner living in New York, gave one final kick to cross the finish line in 15:30 — just one second ahead of Alexandria’s Mariano.
Ben Dickshinski, a senior at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., and an All-American in the 5000m this spring, placed third in the men’s race in 15:53.
While the worst of the morning’s rainstorm held off until most runners had finished, the weather still affected even the most seasoned athletes’ performance.
“My pace was not fast. It was difficult with the rain,” Diriba said through his coach and translator, Ayele Belete, of Silver Spring.
Fellow Ethiopian and marathon runner Elfinesh Melaku Yado agreed. Despite leading the way through the entire women’s race, she felt the rain slowed her down. She placed first in 16:35, while her closest competitors, Amsale Astatek and Tazeta Dengersa, both of Washington, finished in 16:42 and 17:24, respectively.
The sixth annual event has become a tradition for area families like the Delmolino family of Vienna. Wendy Delmolino signed up with her husband, Dominic Delmolino, and two children, Peter Delmolino and Francesca Delmolino.
“My husband and daughter started doing this [race] two years ago and we did it as a family last year. Now it’s a family tradition,” said Wendy Delmolino, who was joined by out-of-town friends, the Wartels.
“We happened to be here this weekend and we always do a 4th of July race,” explained Laura Wartel, of Westerville, Ohio.
Peter Delmolino was “pumped” to run the race that morning since he’s been training to run 5Ks in preparation for his first cross country season at South Lakes High School in Reston this fall. He finished in 24:47.
Camaraderie was an ongoing theme during the Firecracker 5K, which supports local military members and their families. Upward of 60 members from Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) — a nonprofit whose mission is to enrich the lives of veterans — attended, including Derek Mitchell, of Kansas City, whose story went viral earlier this year when the then 570-pound man committed to running a 5k each month in 2015.
“Our Team RWB crew got money together and actually flew him out, so he’s here today doing the Firecracker 5K with us,” said Gretchen Apgar, of Arlington. “[The race] brings everyone together. It’s a really great event — to see people we haven’t seen in awhile and meet other people in the community.”
For Brittaney Short, of Vienna, the Firecracker 5k was about making the 4th of July more than just a barbecue.
“I wanted to feel like I did something important today,” she said. “I wanted to do something for our troops.”
When it comes to the Freedom Four, there’s only one rule: you must respect the hill. You have two miles to contemplate it on the way down, and a moment of reckoning when you turn back to face it. Did you burn yourself out on the downhill? Were you so cautious that you can’t make up the difference in the climb? The hill can make or break a race.
Now in its second year, the Freedom Four takes the out-and-back, down-and-up course of the Four Courts Four Miler and drops it in the middle of summer. Now they’ve combined a demanding course with unpredictable weather. The race could be unforgiving–this year, the weeks preceding it were unusually hot for June, and severe storms pummeled the region through Saturday. Fortunately, race day dawned clear and mild, with temperatures about 10 degrees cooler than they had been. A breeze blew often enough to be welcome as it provided relief from the baking sun.
Just before 8 a.m., runners gathered at the top of Wilson Boulevard and Courthouse Road, where they peered down the vertiginous drop before them. When the gun went off, they came down like an avalanche, resting their legs on the two-mile flat before an unforgiving climb back to the finish. The men’s race was tight to the end, with Julian Meyer, 24, of Peninsula, Ohio, edging out locals Matt Rand, 23, of Alexandria and Mynor Lopez, 31, of Falls Church. All three finished within the 20th minute of the race, and Meyer came within 5 seconds of the course record set last year.
The first woman to finish, Alexandria’s Emily Potter, 36, seemed almost in disbelief at her victory, despite finishing in 23:53, a comfortable near-minute ahead of her next competitor, Megan Haberle, 35, of DC. “I just got back from a week at the beach last night” she says. Like many others, she gives thanks that the weather took an agreeable turn. But she’s no stranger to hills, and it becomes apparent why her performance was so strong: “I like hills,” she says with a laugh. “I train pushing my double running stroller most of the time, so it felt pretty good to be able to run a hill by myself.” Rachel Clattenburg, 31, of DC rounded out the top women’s finishers.
In the crowd, runners remained spirited. They gritted their teeth til the finish line, streaming sweat and often looking a little nauseous as they crossed. But by the time they had water and a banana in hand, everyone was smiling again. Many were experienced runners drawn to the unique distance, challenging course, and festive atmosphere. Dani Lager, 28, of Silver Spring, and Hanna Pillion, 26, of DC were two of just a few costumed runners on the course. While most runners opted for red, white, or blue shorts, Lager sported a tank top and shorts covered in American flags and Pillion a Wonder Woman costume. “It’s not breathable, no,” said Pillion, tugging the synthetic fabric. “It was kind of hot, actually. But running as Wonder Woman, you get a lot of extra people cheering for you, so that helps you run faster.” Lager seconds the motivational effects of crowd support, then flips it: “Hopefully, we’re inspiring others. People see us and they’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna keep going!'” Both are training for longer distances in the Fall and were excited to “celebrate America” at the Freedom Four.
10-year-old Madelyn Stokes runs with her father, Marc Stokes, 43, to stay fit for soccer. She finished the race in 32:30, winning the group for girls under 14. Asked how the course was, Maddie stuck out her tongue and panted “Hard!” The Fairfax native had her own approach to conquering the hill that humbled many older runners: “I was looking down the entire way, so I didn’t really know what was going on,” she admitted.
At the other end of the age groups, John Finney Jr. raised a beer to the cheering crowd as he accepted his own award. The unstoppable 75-year-old runs almost 30 races per year and is training to complete his 26th marathon this fall. He’s overjoyed to be part of the running community and an avowed fan of Pacers events like the Freedom Four. “It was a terrific race, well managed, well organized, good water stop,” he said. “It got a little bit hot towards the end, and the two hills are character-building.” With such a positive attitude, it’s no wonder he’s still running as much and as fast as he does. He finished in 42:43.
Finney gushes about running, “It’s a privilege to be out there. It’s wonderful to feel the energy and the excitement of the younger runners, and then when I see the older runners like myself, it’s wonderful to be out there with them striving and working and doing the best we can to keep up with the younger generation. […] It really is a blessing and it keeps us young and it keeps us agile and it’s really exciting to be a part of these Pacers runs and I’m a huge fan of your magazine.” Then Finney introduces his friend Shaun Mistlebauer, 57, of Arlington. “He’s going to help me train for a triathlon in August!” Finney grinned.
“We love to run. We wanted to try something new,” said Giovanni Harrison, 34, of Clinton, MD. He and Nelson Flores, 28, of Hyattsville ran the race as part of a three-race package they purchased. Both were worn out from the hill but nonetheless spoke excitedly about their upcoming summer races, including the Crystal City Twilighter. Flores laughed, “Hopefully there’s no more hills like this!”
In all, over 700 runners from across the region faced the hill with some balance of caution and confidence and came away eager to continue their running seasons. “I will never look at that road the same,” Flores said. “I have a whole new respect for Wilson Boulevard.”
Ryan Witters was a little rusty, but muscle memory took over and powered him to his fourth consecutive Father’s Day 8k title on the C&O Canal Towpath in Georgetown.
He captured the title in 26:20 — smoking his nearest competitor, Matthew Deters of Arlington, by a full 50 seconds. Although slower than last year’s first-place finish of 25:38, Witters was happy with his performance.
“I was a little less in-shape than I was in previous years,” he said. “Normally, I just try to go out and run hard and fast. This year was a little different for me. I’m taking classes for my master’s degree at Maryland and spring semester really beat me up this year. I basically took all of spring off whereas normally I’m coming off of a track season. The strategy was just to go out there and finish it. Try to run as hard as I could.”
Fresh off a second-place finish at the Collegiate National Trail Running Championship a week before, George Mason alumna Bethany Sachtleben finished first in the women’s race, clocking 28:26. The recent George Mason grad finished a full two minutes ahead of Megan Haberle, of Washington, who, like many of the participants on Sunday, struggled with the heath and humidity of the summer solstice.
“I did well. I had pretty low expectations given the heat,” said Haberle, who finished second in 30:26. “I’m not a very talented heat runner, so I think I was just out there to survive the day. Just try to run a good race and push myself through it.”
For Alex Eversmeyer, of Ashburn, the heat gave him an opportunity to work on mental strength as much as finishing time as he gets back into racing following a knee injury.
“It was rough. But it’s a good challenge. I’ve been a very mentally strong runner in the past. I have it up here, it’s just a matter of applying it,” said Eversmeyer, who finished fourth in the men’s race in 29:38. “I am a strong mental runner, but the heat will take it out of you no matter who you are.”
For many runners, the Father’s Day 8k was a chance to get outside and spend some time with their families. The roles were reversed for Sachtleben on Sunday when she was the one cheering on her father, Doug Sachtleben, as he crossed the finish line.
“This is probably our once-a-year [race]. We follow her around and cheer her on when we can,” said Doug Sachtleben, who admits running doesn’t run in the family. “We were just looking for a summer race to do together.”
Chevy Chase native Catherine Beal ran the race for the second time with her father, Ashby Beal.
“It’s more than just the race,” she explained. “When I get home from college, we spend a month and a half training for it almost every day. So it’s a nice way to kind of hang out and spend time together.”
“I used to run when I was younger. And then I think I got older and thought my body couldn’t take it,” Ashby Beal added. “But with Catherine as my trainer and doing shorter runs and more realistic runs for my age, it’s actually kind of fun.”
Other participants return to the Father’s Day 8k year after year as a way to honor the memory of their fathers.
“My dad died 3 years ago unexpectedly. He was involved in a freak accident. I got that late night call everyone fears,” Jaime Andrews, of Washington, wrote on the event’s Facebook page. “On this day, I get a lot of anxiety. Seeing families celebrating and photos all over social media. This race has provided me a focus, an outlet and a way to celebrate my father each year. I enjoy the course, the community and intimacy of the race.”
The race also marked the end of National Men’s Health Week and Men’s Health Network was on-site to offer several health indicator tests.
“We want to tell men that they really need to pay attention to their overall health,” said Zak Hines, of Virginia Beach, who is attending American University for the summer and interning with Men’s Health Network. “One of the biggest things you can do to improve that health is exercise. Running is a great way to do it.”
For an overzealous runner, the Capitol Hill Classic can seem like an episode of Behind the Music. Early on, everything is going great and the gravy train seems like it will never stop. But then reality hits and they have to run back uphill.
[button-red url=“http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID=4920” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Springfield’s Shauneen Werlinger didn’t know what she was getting into when she took the lead among women in this year’s 10k. She wanted to make sure that if her pursuer, Selameawit Lemma, was going to stay behind her and make a move late, she would have to work for it.
“I was moving along and surprised by how fast I was running, until I saw the mile marks on the other side of the road and realized I’d have to come back this way,” she said. “It was going to be a lot harder on the way back.”
Werlinger opened up a gap at the mile four water stop and started pushing the uphill and went on to win by 29 seconds in 37:18.
“I was just running scared from there,” she said.
American University alumnus Carlos Jamieson pulled away midway through the race to score a 31:42 victory over runner-up men Matt Crowe (32:54) and Dave Wertz (33:48).
“I just kind of sat for a while to see how the pace was and started working the gap half around mile three,” he said. “I was hoping to run a little faster, but the conditions were rough.”
He doubled back to win the 3k in 9:07 over Thaddeus Cwiklinski’s runner up 10:03. Debbie Gutfreund won the women’s 3k in 11:58 over Dionis Gauvin (12:11).
Werlinger’s experience was common among 10k runners.
“Things were going great until about the five mile mark, then I started getting really really tired,” said Sunit Mitra, of Silver Spring. “I slowed down to collect myself and once I caught my breath, I just pushed myself to get that last mile-plus.”
Adding to the challenge was a spike in humidity the morning of the race, which benefits the Capitol Hill Cluster School.
Despite having to walk for a bit late in the race, it was a success for Carolyn Fiebig. She used the race to pick up steam in her push to improve her life through fitness.
“I’m turning 40, and I am going to fight it tooth and nail,” she said. “I’m not going to have a mid-life crisis; I’m going to be positive.”
It was the longest single run of her life so far, and finishing it put her well beyond the halfway point to finishing the Army Ten-Miler in October — her long-term goal. She has an alarm set to wake her up in time for the 6:30 registration window’s Tuesday morning opening.
That’s not to say the 10k was easy. Despite a growing up and living as an adult near the Mississippi River in St. Louis before moving to Silver Spring, the humidity wore on her, as it did many of the other 2,500-plus runners who made the trip from Staton Park down East Capitol and around park of the RFK Stadium parking lot and back.
Cheryl Fitzgerald started off with her friend Vivian Hou, who sped off after a mile. Both had finished a half marathon, but Hou’s effort was a little more recent than Fitzgerald, who admitted the effort began to wear on her in the latter stages of the race.
“I started to feel my blood sugar drop at four miles,” she said. “I should have brought a gel along, but I was glad to have all the water stops.”
How did she push through those last 2.2 miles?
“I made myself smile,” she said. “That made all the difference. And there were kids offering high fives.”
The positivity she mandated applied to her interpretation of the conditions, too. Positivity that made her an outlier.
“I loved this weather, it was perfect. there’s a little breeze, it was sprinkling,” she said. “My muscles didn’t tense up because it wasn’t too cold.”
Two frequent out-of-town visitors clashed on the new Pikes Peek 10k course in Rockville, with a Montgomery County native grabbing the win.
[button-red url=”http://www.mcrrc.org/pikes-peek-10k-9″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]It came down to the final, downhill stretch on Marinelli Road between Brian Flynn and Thomas Adam at the Pike’s Peek 10k on Sunday morning. Neck and neck, the two Virginians pounded to the finish line, but it was Flynn, a resident of Bridgewater who attended Damascus High School, who had enough of a kick left in him to narrowly beat Adam by a mere two seconds, clocking 30:27. Third place Luke Meyer, from Washington, was close behind in 30:33.
“I led a lot of the race today,” Flynn said. “I wanted to run fast, but after a couple miles, I realized I was doing a lot of the work, so I didn’t want guys to just draft off me. I did a hard surge around the two-mile mark and then kind of settled in with the leaders, picking up about the last 90 seconds or so.”
Flynn coaches cross country at Bridgewater College and races frequently in the D.C. area.
In the women’s race, Julia Roman-Duval, of Columbia, crushed the competition to take first place in 34:35 — a personal best for the 32-year-old. She was all smiles as she talked with fellow participants after her strong finish. Roman-Duval’s closest competitor, Selamawit Mekuria of Washington, crossed the finish more than two minutes behind her in 36:48. Sarah Bishop, from Fairfax, finished third in 37:01.
This year’s Pike’s Peek 10k lived up to its reputation as a PR course, but top runners’ times were noticeably slower than in previous years. The impending demolition of White Flint Mall forced race organizers to push the start and finish lines back roughly half a mile, which added a hill at the beginning of the course. The field also lacked a heavy East African presence after eight Ethiopian men and four women from New York did not show up, after registering.
Not a single runner on Sunday broke 30 minutes, whereas the top five men in 2014 and top 12 in both 2013 and 2012 all ran sub-30 races.
“I think it’s a little slower. You’re losing a little bit of the net downhill because finishing at White Flint [Mall] is a little further downhill. And starting a little bit further back on Redland Road you hit a really hard 800m hill,” Flynn explained. “It makes the first couple of miles a little more difficult, but it’s still a fast course, a fun course. Halfway through I just stopped worrying about the time and just wanted to make sure that I won.”
But the changes didn’t deter runners from clocking fast times and PRs since the hill was at the beginning of the race. In fact, Roman-Duval ran 28 seconds faster than last year, when she came in third. Adam, of Charlottesville, bettered his time by 15 seconds over last year’s race, when he came in ninth. He competes for Ragged Mountain Racing and won last year’s Navy 5 Miler.
“I feel really good,” Adam said. “I ran the course last year, so I knew it was fast. I ran a little faster than last year and the course was a little slower, so it was a good day.”
Other runners agreed. Arlington’s David Barr, a first-time participant who finished in 34:38, said he improved his personal best by about a minute. Nicolas Crouzier, of Gaithersburg, finished 20th last year in 32 minutes, but climbed nine spots to claim 11th place during Sunday’s race, despite being 15 seconds slower than the year prior.
In the masters division, Patrick Kuhlmann, of Washington, took home first place with a time of 32:34, and Darcy Strouse, of Frederick, clocked 39:52.
New this year, the team competition allowed local running clubs — as well as corporate teams, schools and non-profits, among other groups — to compete against each other. The top three male and female runners on each team were scored.
Capital Area Runners finished first, with all seven runners clocking in under 44 minutes. Laurel Le Moigne, from Springfield, helped the team to victory with a net time of 38:20.
“I didn’t really mind the hill at the beginning because I think it made it less of a net downhill, so it made the times a little more realistic,” explained Le Moigne, who ran 36:47 in 2013 and returned this year after having two children.
“I just wanted to have a blast and do the best I could,” she said.
From their starting line perch at Mount Vernon, the next hour was hazy for Kevin McNab and Sheree Shea.
[button-red url=”http://www.zippyraceresults.com/search.php?ID-4829″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]Despite clear skies and cool air that brushed their faces with the promise of a fast George Washington Parkway Classic, they could only guess what was in store. Both had run only one race longer than 10k, and those races were non-competitive half marathons. That didn’t stop them from both gamely handling the 10 mile race to Old Town Alexandria.
McNab and Will Christian raced each other from mile two on, dropping the pace dramatically after hitting five miles in 25:38.
“From there, we tried to cut it down for the rest of the race,” McNab said. “We both had 50 minutes in mind. We had some momentum on mile six (which they covered in 4:50), but we lost it in mile seven.
“With two miles to go, we just surged back and forth. He made a 10-second surge — it was like he a fork in my side and kept turning it. I’d somehow recover and do the same thing to him and it was like that the rest of the way.”
Christian, who serves in the Navy and lives in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region, had finished second in 2013, and traded on that experience.
“He knew when to make his moves to hurt me the most,” McNab, a D.C. resident, said. “With a mile to go (on S. Union Street), his surges got tougher and tougher, I don’t know how I hung on, but once I saw the finish line, that gave me the mental break I needed. I knew the struggle was about over.”
With a little more than a quarter mile, McNab opened up a gap and stretched it out to five seconds by the time he crossed the line in 50:28. Christian, having run two half marathons in recent weeks and a low-15 minute 5k the day before in Williamsburg, was nonetheless excited about his performance and looking forward to making an attempt at the Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying standard (sub-1:05) at the Gerry Bjorklund Half Marathon in June in Duluth, Minn.
McNab, who recently turned 29, reflected on how his experience is manifesting itself.
“As I get older, I hear more and more people talk about this mythical ‘old man strength.,’” he said. “I can feel it, it’s real. It wasn’t a challenging race until mile seven. Then it just got nuts. ”
Things were a little more calm for Shea, a Mizuno-sponsored runner living in Silver Spring. Following two men, she built in a three-second lead per mile over Springfield’s Shauneen Werlinger and wound up with a 31-second margin of victory in her first competitive road race.
Following a six-week layoff in the winter while she recovered from a tibial stress reaction, Shea ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon, but started in the second corral, a far cry for a runner who had run 15:45 on the track for 5k a year ago.
“I was just getting back to where it hurts again,” she said. “I learned about pain and positioning, the tangents.”
Like Christian, she too aims for an Olympic Trials qualifier — under 1:15 — but at a fall half marathon.
“I moved out here to get away from the track, and I’m finally back to racing,” she said. “I hadn’t raced in almost a year.”
Her plan had been to run the first 10k hard and hold on for dear life. Though she noticed her lack of fitness from the workouts she missed, she felt like it was a good start, with a clear path ahead.
“I just have to keep working, put together a few months of training and not make running fast feel so hard,” she said.
Josh Paine, of Fairfax, was also running above his pay grade for distance, but he ended up with a successful race.
“The longest I had gone was a few 5ks, but this wasn’t too bad,” he said. “I got faster every mile.”
He dropped his 45:27 first half down to 42:18 for the back five, putting a cherry on that understatement.
His friend, Francis Shafer of Alexandria, came to the race having run it almost 10 times but having a PR at least that old, which he improved by more than two minutes.
“It was an outstanding day,” he said. “It’s usually hotter, so we were lucky.”
Sarah Lucas, of Woodbridge, fell into this race on the heels of the New York City Half Marathon. Wanting another crack at the distance, she searched for another, but found they mostly conflicted with her three-month trip to Brazil to visit her husband’s family.
“I was looking at this race a long time ago and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do 10 miles,” she said. “Then after I ran the half, it wasn’t a problem anymore.”
She meets up with the Pacers fun run group in Alexandria and bumped into a training partner in the corral.
“We ran the first half together, then I sped off,” she said. “I didn’t want to set any goals, but it would be nice to run 10-minute miles.”
She was close, averaging 10:02 per mile.
The last of the 4981 finishers accomplished a goal set nearly a year ago. Jamie Watts, of Arlington, aimed to finish 34 races before her 34th birthday, despite being slowed to a cane-assisted walk by cerebral palsy.
Doing so meant arriving at race courses well before the start to accommodate the time she needed to complete the races in time. On Sunday, she left Mount Vernon at 5 a.m. and arrived at the finish line by noon. She was out on the roads in the heat of the Freedom Four Miler in late June to the sleet of the St. Patrick’s 5k in March. When she finished the 10 miles on the George Washington Parkway Classic, the timing mat remained in place for her, with the chute teeming with friends and well wishers. She paused before crossing the last finish line on her list and savored that last step.
The final re-measurement of the Cherry Blossom race course determined that the rerouting caused the race distance to total 9.39 miles.
A traffic accident that was treated as a crime scene near the Kutz Bridge, less than 90 minutes before the elite women’s advanced start, forced the course to reroute from its path around the Tidal Basin, instead diverting near the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on West Basin Drive and onto Ohio Drive. The alteration affected miles five and six.
A man riding a motorcycle hit a woman who was crossing Independence Avenue away from a crosswalk at 5:52 a.m. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, U.S. Park Police had no updates on the female pedestrian’s condition — she was taken to George Washington University Hospital on Sunday. Charges had not been filed against the driver and the investigation remains active and open. U.S. Park Police are looking for witnesses with information about the crash and can be reached at department’s tipline at 202-610-8737 or [email protected].
[button-red url=”http://trackshackresults.com/cherryblossom/2015/” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red] The race’s results page include a projected time for each finisher, extrapolating their 9.39 mile pace for 10 miles. Reactions among competitive runners reflected frustration at losing the opportunity to chase personal best times on an otherwise-perfect day for racing but also concern for the accident victim and appreciation that the race started as scheduled. Click here to learn more about how a course is certified.
The top two elite women’s times were fast enough to warrant sub-52:00 performance bonuses. Kenyans Mary Wacera and Cynthia Limo’s times extrapolated to 51:45 and 51:46, earning them $1,000 and $750, respectively. Men’s winner and runner-up Stephen Sambu and Jacob Riley both missed performance bonuses. Sambu’s extrapolated time of 46:10 just missing the sub-46 and Riley’s 46:18 was six seconds short of earning him $10,000 for surpassing Greg Meyer’s American Record, though Riley’s time would not have been recognized for record-keeping purposes.