The Riley's Rumble hills don't bother Ismail Tekin. Photo: Dan Reichmann
The Riley’s Rumble hills don’t bother Ismail Tekin. Photo: Dan Reichmann

When most race registration websites encourage runners to sign up their particular event, Riley’s Rumble Half Marathon cautions participants.

“Don’t be seduced by the lush bucolic countryside of rural Montgomery County,” it said. “This race will challenge the best runners. If you want the 3 H’s (hills, heat, and humidity), this is the race for you.”

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Half Marathon Results [/button-red]Despite all of this discouragement, more than 400 participants showed up to the starting line at 7 a.m. to conquer what they knew and expected to be a tough course. In fact, those words of warning were part of the draw.

“If another guy suggests to do something challenging or possibly stupid, I don’t back away,” Sasha Rourk of Washington, D.C. said. “It’s definitely tougher on country roads with a lot more hills. But there’s fewer tourists than the Mall.”

Rourk said his colleague, Arie Heijkoop, recommended the race to him in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon he plans to run in this fall.

“It’s probably the toughest thing I’m going to do this year,” Heijkoop said. “I think everything they say about these races are true — Park’s Half Marathon is the ‘nice half.’ And this is the race ‘your mother warned you about.’”

The race used to take place along the C&O Canal at Riley’s Lock (the race’s namesake). But after logistical difficulties, race director Joel Carrier said, the course moved to its current location in Boyds, near the South Germantown Recreational Park. Carrier said he prefers the new course but added “I wait until the fall to run it.”

“It’s the nicest day we’ve had in years,” he said while talking about the temperatures, which were in the low 70’s with a few sprinkles of rain. “Usually it’s hot and humid.”

Riley’s Rumble is one of several events among MCRRC’s low-key race series. While there were no awards, t-shirts or finisher medals, one of the temptations to sign up for the race was the low cost: free for club members or a $21.40 registration fee for everyone else—a steal for a half marathon near Washington, D.C.

The low cost was what lured Scott Smith of Bellaire, Md. into signing up. He’s currently in the midst of attempting 13 half marathons in 13 months. He said he’s running three of these halves in August, solely because they were the most affordable.

“This was a bargain and I try to do as many bargains as possible,” Smith said.

Smith is also training for numerous marathons in between his half marathon challenge.

“It’s gonna be a tough week,” Smith, who has another half marathon coming up next week, said. “But Maryland in general is a hilly place and it will toughen me up for the marathons.”

Though the race website recommended first timers steer away from Riley’s Rumble, the event marked Nicole Dawson’s first half marathon. She’ll not only remember her first half marathon because of the course, but also because of the fact that she was the first woman to come through the finish.

At only 19 years old and a junior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, won the women’s division by nearly two minutes, with a time of 1:32:28. She ran the first half of the race with her UMBC teammate, Sarah Zielinski, then broke away.

Megan Haberle of the Dojo of Pain was also among one of the top women to come through the finish. She felt like she was in a state of shock at staying upright for 13 miles after being dogged by injuries all spring. She added one of her favorite things about the low-key race series is how supportive the other runners in the race were.

“I’m a small town girl at heart and this recaptures that same feeling I remember when I watched my dad run small 10k races,” Haberle said.

She added that she also enjoyed the rural scenery.

“It’s a beautiful course,” she said. “You’re not breathing in car exhaust, you’re just looking out in the landscape. It’s a nice distraction.”

Jim Dahlem of Silver Spring said he was quite surprised to see how rural Montgomery County actually was.

“This is by far the most rural half marathon I’ve ever done,” he said. “We passed through farms and cows all on country roads.”

That wasn’t the only aspect of the race that surprised him.

“When you’re going downhill in the beginning you don’t realize how steep it’s going to be coming back because you’re not tired yet.”

Though Dahlem had a few surprises, he still managed to finish third in his age group.

The top finisher in the race, who’s now a back-to-back first place finisher winning this year’s and last, MCRRC racing team member Nicolas Crouzier passed through the finish line at 1:17:03 — a 4:37 lead over second place finisher Miles Aitken. Crouzier said he aimed to run each mile a little quicker than his marathon pace.

“I started out with 5:45 per mile then eased up a little after a few miles,” Courzier said.

The MCRRC competitive team recruited Courzier after he won this race last year . He added that the low-key races series put on by the club is a favorite of his.

“I just love these small local races,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about medals or anything like that, it’s just pure and simple racing—and that’s what I like.”

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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=”″ 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.”

Tyler Cole glances at the clock as he finishes the mile at the DC Road Runners Track Championships. Photo: DC Road Runners
Tyler Cole glances at the clock as he finishes the mile at the DC Road Runners Track Championships. Photo: Ben Richter

The fastest miler at the DC Road Runners One Mile and 3k Track Championships knew the area well, but a five-hour drive preceded his win.

Sandy Roberts broke the meet record (4:13.67, set in 2013 by David Chorney) with his winning time of 4:09:35 in the men’s elite heat.

[button-red url=”” target=”_self” position=”left”] Mile Results [/button-red]Roberts raced collegiately for the Georgetown Hoyas, including an All-American status as part of the distance medley relay. He’d just arrived back in familiar territory from Raleigh, N.C.

His brother and coach, Logan, ran as a rabbit for the early part of the race. He said the mile proceeded as planned.

“Because he’s racing hard next week, we wanted to get a simulation, go through 1,000 at race pace,” Logan said. “He executed pretty well. Ideally, he would have been able to cruise a little more on that middle 400, but he had some competition.”

Roberts out-kicked Dan Quigley, of Eugene, Ore., in the final 200 meters to secure the victory.

“We’ve been working on the final kick,” Roberts said. “I think Dan’s a really talented runner. I didn’t know who that was, just like, holy cow, there’s someone here.”

The celebration will be short-lived for the Roberts brothers. They headed for the car after the meet to drive to a race in Charlottesville in preparation for Sandy’s shot at breaking an elusive track mark.

“All this is moving toward a sub-four mile attempt next Friday night in Raleigh,” he said. “Hopefully, in little over a week from now, I’ll have conquered a sub-four. That’s the goal.”

The new men’s meet record continues a trend of dropping times every year for the past three, said race director Brian Danza.

On the women’s side, Susanna Sullivan missed the meet record (4:48.70, by Alisa Harvey) by less than a second after an unusually short warm up.

Her professor granted her an absence for 80 minutes in the middle of a four-hour graduate class at Marymount University. In that short time, she traveled to the race, pulled on a bib and jersey, and proceeded to run away from the competition for a 4:49:65 finish and a win for the second year in a row at the championships.

“I was a bit surprised,” she said. “I thought it would hurt more. I knew what the record was, and I wanted to give it a shot. But when I got here and only had a couple minutes to warm-up, that basically went out the window and the goal was just to compete. It’s a track PR.”

Sullivan has run faster but did so on a road course with a slight downhill in Winchester.

“We’ll call this a legitimate PR,” she said, with a laugh. “I feel really good about it. I’m in the middle of marathon training right now. It’s real encouraging to see that I can turn over even when my body should be dead. I’ve been feeling really good throughout the marathon training.”

Sullivan has already qualified for the Olympic marathon trials with a B standard. She’s preparing for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, in Minnesota, in what will be her first full 26.2 and an attempt at the Olympic A standard.

Her success was partially responsible for Sullivan’s excused absence.

“That was in the email today. ‘Hey, I qualified for the Olympic trials. Can I run a mile tonight?’ He was really understanding. This is always a really fun event. I’ll know next year I can’t have class on Wednesday.”

Due to conflicts with other Arlington County sites, this year’s meet was held at T.C. Williams High School track in Alexandria instead of the usual site at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington.

Danza estimated the move created a 20- to 30-percent drop in participation but that the competitive races still pleased him.

“We had a great night,” he said. “I think it’s an event that caters to people who like running for the race aspect. They can come here, toe the line, and go out really hard for four minutes for the elite guys or seven minutes for some other people, and push themselves.”

Track meets don’t happen in the DC metro area as often as garden-variety 5ks or even nationally known marathons.

That’s what makes the meet so important.

The future stars opened the night in the kids mile, and several returned to the start line to run against women their mother’s age and men with white hair in the various heats of the mixed miles that ran before the elites.

Other athletes jumped into the four-lap test wearing everything from compression club kits to cheap shorts and race shirts from area events.

“Coming to a mile and going all out is a good way to determine how fit you actually are,” Danza said. “It’s a good place for local runners to come run a fast mile.”

Will Viviani said the fitness aspect appealed to him.

“I didn’t know where I was fitness-wise,” he said. “I wanted to see where everyone else was before I made a move.”

Viviani pulled into first with 300 meters to go and ran to the heat win in 4:35.96. He used the race as a way to jump back into competitive racing after a hiatus from hard training of more than two years.

Other racers learned how the mile can dish out disappointment. Ben Garthwaite tried to break five minutes in his heat.

“I was on it through three laps,” he said. “I knew it when I tried to kick it in at 200. I’m like, OK, you just need to finish hard and you got this. My legs just didn’t do what they were supposed to.”

He crossed the line in 5:01.80 behind the heat winner Mark Walchinsky, who did break five minutes, in 4:58.07.

“That was the goal in the back of my head,” Walchinsky said, “but if I didn’t break five, that was cool. But I actually met my expectations. It was a short enough race that the humidity didn’t come in and kick me like it does if you do a half marathon in these conditions.”

Eunja Rau won the master’s division for women in her first track mile in 8:30.34. She’s getting ready for the Marine Corps Marathon, which will be her first at that distance.

“i’ve done some track training, but not just the one mile,” she said. “It’s always hard to run fast, but it was doable because it was short.”

Rau started running two years ago when she met members of the DC Road Runners club at a library event for a couch-to-5k program.

And in the spirit of the track championships, Rau not only raced but also volunteered during the meet, giving back as much as she’s receiving from the sport.

John Sides leads Zanny Ludtke in the Rockville Twilighter 8k. Photo: Jim Rich
John Sides leads Zanny Ludtke in the Rockville Twilighter 8k. Photo: Jim Rich

Etaferhu Temesgen slashed the Rockville Twilighter 8k record to win in 26:33 over Susanna Sullivan, whose 26:43 nearly matched the prior 26:40  record.

[button-red url=”” target=”_self” position=”left”] 8k Results [/button-red]”She’s been doing her training in Rock Creek Park the last three months,” said Ayele Bleed, her manager. “She runs twice a day seven times a week and we’re working on her kilometer times.”

Sullivan ran a good deal of the race thinking that she and Temesgen were behind a few women in the pack ahead of them.

“I thought we were going out conservatively but we were pretty fast at the mile,” she said. “After a while people started saying that we were the first and second women. She got a gap on me and I couldn’t close it.”

Sullivan still ran a six-second 8k PR, at the end of a 90-mile week, which followed a 100-mile week.

“It’s good to know I can run fast when I’m tired,” she said.

The men’s race featured a four-mile surge by Diriba Yigezu to defeat Landon Peacock by a 22-second margin in 23:48.

The cool, humid night was a welcome respite from a few dozen hot races here, a year after thunderstorms forced the race’s cancellation

“I stayed back for a mile, in sixth place, then got faster,” Yigezu said. “I kept the same speed for the last four miles and didn’t have to run fast at the end. I think I could have run 23;30 if I sprinted in the last mile.

After breaking with the pack near three miles, Peacock (24:10) couldn’t make up ground on Yigezu, but chasing him kept him ahead of third place Tilahon Manesho, who finished five seconds behind.


The 8k course provided a break for two members of the MCRRC racing team. D.C.’s Miles Aiken made a return to racing after June’s North Face Endurance Challenge 50k. Though he felt rusty, he managed to sneak under 28 minutes.

“It’s always fun racing the local elite East Africans who come out,” he said. “I shouldn’t be running with them, but it’s fun for a little bit.”

His MCRRC teammate Miguel Perez of Silver Spring was using the race as a warmup for the next morning’s Rosaryville 50k in Prince George’s County.

“I’m mainly an ultra runner now, but I ran shorter distances in high school and college and still like to get speed in,” he said. “I need it for my fall marathon training.”

Karen Delheim of D.C. loves the Twilighter because “racing at night is a whole different experience,” she said. “I used to run marathons, but I enjoy races like this more. I try to make it out to this one every year.”

Her friend Ron Baker, also of D.C., is primarily a mountain biker, and he brought that mentality to the race on foot.

“I never got out of breath, I just stayed at a good pace, found the aerobic sweet spot,” he said.

Their friend Carla Punch was thrilled with her race. As director of group athletics at the White House Fitness Center, she is used to training others, but she’s been on a mission to run a lot of races in 2014. So far she has 10.

“It was awesome,” she said. “I love being out there.”

Daniella Bigott, of Germantown, ran the race in full firefighter equipment. A member of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, she has taken up the mantle of running the Marine Corps Marathon in gear, an annual tradition in honor of the late Army Spec. T.J. Barbieri, a North Potomac native who died in Iraq in 2006 while serving in the Marine Corps.

“I am a little tired, but I think I’m ready for the marathon,” she said. “You get tired but then remember why you’re doing this.”

Todd Delp, of Arlington, also considers himself more of a long distance runner, but it has been a while since he is run a serious race. His wife Amanda convinced him to run Rockville and he was satisfied with his race.

“It was tough to not go out too hard, but I think I found a good pace,” he said. “I started in the front, where I shouldn’t have been, but the adrenaline got me going. I tried to keep Amanda in my sight the whole time. She’s shorter, but I could see her hair bouncing ahead of me.”

Emily Roark of Kensington was thrilled with the post-race party.

“Four beers?! I never purchase four beers and they’re giving them away to me?”she said. “It was a pretty fun race but it will be an even better party.”

Her friend Elizabeth Heering lives very close to the course and as a member of the Rockville Running Club, covered the course on Tuesday evening fun runs weeks ahead of time. She competed as part of the Potomac River Running team.

“I ran it again yesterday,” she said. “I knew it goes out fast, so I went out faster than I should have but kept it under control. I powered through the hills, a few guys dropped and knowing that the last mile is downhill helps a lot.”



Runners stretch before the Hugh Jascourt 4 Mile. Photo: D.C. Road Runners
Runners stretch before the Hugh Jascourt 4 Mile. Photo: D.C. Road Runners

The second race of the D.C. Road Runners Club Bunion Derby race series was underway Saturday evening at the Hugh Jascourt Memorial 4-Miler. More than 80 runners turned out on Saturday evening on the C&O Towpath near Fletcher’s Boat House to celebrate its club’s founding president’s birthday, Hugh Jascourt. And with a welcomed break from the humidity, many were pleased to compete on the low-impact, out-and-back course along the canal.

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Four Mile Results [/button-red]Kate Katz of Arlington, Va. took the lead right off the bat in the women’s division and held it till the finish with a time of 26:32, making it her second win in a row in the Bunion Derby series.

“We’ve been training in such hot weather lately so this felt great,” Katz said. “I liked the terrain, too, it’s easier on the body.”

Since the last race, Run After the Women 5K, involved the men catching the women, Katz was excited she had more competition with her.

“It was nice to have some men to chase after,” Katz said.

The overall top finishers, Karsten Brown, Oliver De Greet and Joe Kane, held the lead for most of the race until the last mile, where Brown pulled away from De Greet and Kane, finishing with a time of 22:39. Brown, who just completed a 100-mile race a few weeks ago, said he’s been competing in the Bunion Derby series since the 90’s.

Betty Blank of Falls Church, Va., who is ranked first in her age group on the East Coast, has been competing in the Bunion Derby series for several years.

“I love D.C. Road Runners Club races,” Blank said. “It’s a good group of people with great competition. And it’s fun because everybody knows everybody and we all help each other out.”

In addition to several DCRRC regulars, the race also turned out some non-local D.C. runners.

Tim Loughran, a professor at Notre Dame, wanted to fit in a race while he was visiting D.C. Despite most of the runners gleaming with joy because of the break from humidity and high temperatures, the weather didn’t impress the Indiana resident.

“Running along the canal was nice but it was a little hotter than I’m used to compared Indiana temperatures,” Loughran said. “I like running in the cold.”

But Allan Ingraham of Arlington, Va. who competed in this race in 2013, said the temperatures last year were 10 degrees higher. Though temperatures never stop Ingraham from competing.

“These races just have a good group of folks, gets your heart rate up and lets you feel a little bit of pain.”

Ann and Steve Brown of Vienna, Va., who regularly participate in DCRRC races, said they too appreciate the low-races put on by the club.

“They get you out there and give you something to work towards,” Ann said.

Finishing just a few seconds after Ann, Laurie Horstmann of Centreville, Va. said in addition to the race series, she’s a big fan of the four-mile distance as well.

“It’s not as short as a 5k but not too long either,” Horstmann said. “And it’s nice not to be stressed out about the distance unlike longer races.”

Horstmann is on her 39th year running and said there has been many “ups and downs” throughout the years.

The DCRRC Bunion Derby series will include six more races this summer, three in July and three in August. To be eligible for an age group reward, club participants must run three races. The participant’s top five races will count in the total scoring for the series. Runners must also volunteer at a qualifying event or activity with the club.


The opening decline at the Freedom Four. Photo: Brian W. Knight/ Swim Bike Run Photography
The opening decline at the Freedom Four. Photo: Brian W. Knight/ Swim Bike Run Photography

Red, white and blue replaced head-to-toe green. Long sleeves made way for tank tops and sports bras. The hill, however, was the same as everyone remembered it.

The Freedom Four set up shop at the top of Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, with the same out-and-back course as the St. Patrick’s Day-themed Four Courts Four Miler. That meant nearly a mile that runners spent either trying to hold back down a hill or take what the course gave them, and then same distance suffering back up, this time with the added heat and humidity that came with late June in Northern Virginia.

Back in March, Bethesda’s Andrew Brodeur dominated in 19:33. In June, he didn’t quite have it, with D.C.’s Kevin McNab pulling away at the base of the hill and holding on to win 20:05-20:13.

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Four Mile Results [/button-red]“We weren’t actually heading down the hill, too fast, maybe 4:45,” McNab said. “I was trying to hold back to run a strong second half and go after the record. I tried to make a move after two miles, but he hung with me. I got that gap at the bottom of the hill and just kept going.”

It was the second race in a nascent rivalry for the two. McNab edged Brodeur by two seconds at May’s Germantown 5 Miler. A Texas A&M alumnus, teammates on the Georgetown Running Club have nicknamed him “Johnny Running.”

Amy Laskowske of Arlington, who finished second at Four Courts to Claire Hallissey, took advantage of Hallissey’s move to England to stake a claim to first place in 23:49, improving by five seconds. “I’m glad I ran the course before, because the hill wasn’t as terrible this go-round,” she said, “I felt more confident knowing the course, but the race wasn’t too intimidating.”

She attributes her four-second improvement, in spite of the heat and humidity, to workouts with her Pacers racing team.

The downhill leveled off in Rosslyn as runners turned onto Jefferson Davis Highway before turning around and paying the piper for their early unbridled enthusiasm.

John Thomas of Alexandria managed to keep things under control.

“I didn’t go out with the jackrabbits,” he said. “That’s really hard, because there are so many people who burst out there.”

He attributed his restraint to his experience in distance running. It helped him win the 70-79 age group.

“It really requires some mental discipline, but it’s gratifying to pass people on the way back,” he said.

His friend Jan Smilek drove from Leesburg, the day after racing the Run for Independence 8k.

“I had never run back-to-back races before,” he said. “With this one, you always have the uphill in the back of your mind, especially when you are going downhill. You just run and hope for the best.”

Some hoped for the best, but others just wanted to look their best, comfort thrown to the wind.

Chris Ardalan of Arlington ran sporting a cut-off cotton shirt and red, white and blue top hat. The race demonstrated to him why parents encourage their kids to wear hats in the winter.

“The run was terrible. I hate running that hill normally,” he said. “The hat trapped all the heat, this shirt is not conducive either. It was a hot mess. I did it to show my love for America.”

His outfit didn’t entirely handicap for his race, though.

“People saw they outfit and cheered for me, so that gives you a little pep in the step,” he said. “I did see another guy in a top hat, so we had a bonding moment.”

He was recruited for the race by Nicole Shenk, who gathered six people for the event.

“We thought the t-shirts looked cool and it was a chance to get our friends together,” she said.

Shenk was convincing enough that Mandy Conlin added the race to an already-full plate.

“I have to move a friend today and play two games of softball, so why not start everything off with a four-mile run,” she said.

For all of their experience on cross country courses, Griffin Colaizzi and Gabe Lerner had never run any road races, but with the 8k looming in college, it was time to move beyond the 5k. Colaizzi is planning to run at Williams College, Lerner hopes to walk on at the University of Michigan. The pair ran at Georgetown Day School and are just a few weeks into their college training plans.

“It was the longest race we’d ever done,” Colaizzi said.

Steven Clark ran with his girlfriend Audrey Tornblom, who was getting over a cold but decided to come out and run. Clark is a veteran of Pacers’ 4th of July races, and he ran wearing a vintage 2010 Independence 5000 t-shirt from the race run on the George Mason University campus.

“I’m usually in town for the Fourth of July, so I run these races,” he said. “It gives me a reason to get out of bed. People ask me what I’m training for. Without that race, or goalm, I won’t exercise. I always have to have something to keep me focused, keep me moving.”


Running with dad

Marcus and Emily Simon run the Father's Day 8k. Photo: Matthew Lehner
Marcus and Emily Simon run the Father’s Day 8k. Photo: Matthew Lehner

“Do it for Dad” was the motto for a plethora of runners June 15th at the Father’s Day 8k.

Held on the C&O Canal Towpath in Georgetown, the flat course offered an opportunity for the perfect finale to the holiday weekend.

Many runner families enjoyed the dual purposes the race offered for their family to be together and at the same promote health.  The Naff family of Arlington ran for just these reasons as well as one other.   As everyone knows, on Father’s Day, it is dad’s choice, and Michael Naff  choose to celebrate by running the 8k.  He finished in the top ten, and with the whole family joining in the fun, his son Tim won the kids’ kilometer for the second year in a row.

Siblings Erin, Ian, and Sean Naff, in addition to their neighbor Jack Kammerer were not far behind.  Their mother Beth who is also an avid runner stood on the sidelines to reign in the troops, and can’t wait until Mother’s day when maybe she will get to run a race.

Ryan Witters of D.C. won his third consecutive title in 25:38. The runs for the Georgetown Running Company, which held the race as a fundraiser.  The race has a special meaning to him because he lost his father when he was young.

“I remember him every day, but I can’t give ugly neckties or anything like that anymore on this special day, so I like to honor him by doing something I love in his remembrance,” he said.  His mother, Connie Corbett, who was in town for the weekend, also had quite a day of recollection.   She said, “Watching Ryan run this race was very reminiscent of all those years watching him run in high school and college.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to make the race and it ended up being one of the highlights of my weekend.”

Kristin Johnson, also of D.C.

Steve and Hilary Moen (a father/daughter team) hailing from Rockville and D.C. respectively are also having quite the month of running races.  Not only did they run a race together last week, but they also won the father/daughter division for the 8k.  Their official line is that they are retiring for the season, but from listening to them talk, that retreat may not last all that long.

The race also attracted many out-of-towners such as Joel Contreras of California who had a very busy weekend of races.  He was visiting the district for many reasons, but mainly due his daughter currently residing in the area and him being a former district resident himself.  While around, he decided to run both the Lawyers Have Heart 10k Saturday and the Father’s Day 8k.   Contreras said he wishes he would have known about the towpath all those year back when he actually lived in the city.  “That might have gotten me off my butt and made me a runner a few decades sooner,” he said.


Photo: Potomac River Running
Kerri Julian and Megan Radkowski cross the finish line at the Twilight Festival 4 Miler. Photo: Potomac River Running

The sounds of laughter, music and families with friendly dogs and moonbounce-loving children filled the start area of the ninth annual Twilight Festival 4 Miler June 21 in Ashburn.

But a subtle somberness permeated the race and paralleled the evening’s overcast skies.

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] Four Mile Results [/button-red]On March 12 of this year, Ashburn area mom Jaime Rowley had her life tragically taken while out for a morning run. Her family and friends have created the Run for Jaime Foundation, which promotes runner safety awareness and raises money to help families who have also suffered the loss of a family member. The Twilight Festival this year will benefit the foundation set up in memory of Jaime.

Michele Wiggins, Jaime’s older sister, said that the foundation was inspired by the community. “We were so overwhelmed with all the support and help that was given to us that we said, ‘Okay, the girls (Jaime’s daughters) are taken care of, and now all this money and support and events need to help someone else,” Wiggins said.

More than 800 runners came out to show their support, many of whom sported purple t-shirts with the hashtag #RunforJaime on the back, while others came for the competition.

First male- and overall- finisher 24-year-old Neal Darmody of Durham, N.C. said he didn’t expect to come out on top, after having taken last year off from racing.

So far, though, Darmody has seen nothing but success. Earlier this year, he finished first in Potomac River Running’s Reston 10 Miler and came in second at last weekend’s Lawyer’s Have Heart 10k.

Darmody drove up from Duke University the night before the Twilight 4 Miler in hopes of placing in the top three.

“From the start, I didn’t think I was going to win it. The lead runner was way ahead, but I slowly worked my way up to him,” Darmody said.

Dromody ended up finishing in 20:06, nearly 50 seconds ahead of second-place finisher 32-year-old Teresa Fekensa Beyisa.

Beyisa, originally from Ethiopia, finished in 20:54. He appeared less competitive and was all smiles at the finish.

“I run 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, full marathons, everything. Today, the people here were very nice, the course was good, and so I am happy,” Beyisa said.

Third in the men’s division was 28-year-old Dustin Whitlow from Arlington, who finished 10 seconds after Beyisa at 21:04.

In the women’s division, 26-year-old Danielle Orton of Washington, D.C. held a 6:15 min/mile average pace and finished in 25:03, nearly a full minute before second place finisher 26-year-old Anna Holt-Gosselin, who finished in 26 minutes even.

Thirty-one-year-old Elizabeth Heering of Rockville ran as part of Potomac River Running’s racing team in her age division and finished in third.

“When I first came in, I just wanted to have fun with it, but I was pleased to find that I was able to stay with the front runners,” Heering said. “I loved the course. It was flat and fast and a great race overall.”

For many runners, though, competition was the last thing on their mind. Potomac River Running owner Ray Pugsley emphasized that the Twilight Festival is more about the family-centric atmosphere than the race itself.

“When we started the race in 2006, we wanted an event where people and families could hang out and have fun after, not just run on a Sunday morning then go home,” Pugsley said.

As a family race, participants ranged from young to old and everyone in between.

Alexander Dvorznak, just five years old—or “five-and-a-half,” in his words—ran the Twilight Festival’s one-mile fun run option with his older sister and mom and dad. The Dvorznaks say they like to run numerous races throughout the year as a family as a fun way to stay healthy. And if there’s one word to describe the Twilight Festival, Alexander says it’s “fun.”

At the other end of the spectrum was Robert Gurtler from The Plains, Va., who at 79 years old was the oldest Twilight 4-Miler runner this year. This race marked Gurtler’s 56th race just this year. Gurtler had run a race earlier that day, had registered for a race the next morning, and he said he ran about 130 races in 2013.

“I’m not a competitive runner anymore, so I just run for fun,” Gurtler said. “Now I’m at the back of the pack with the ladies pushing their babies or talking about their boyfriends,” he said with a smile. “And now I can have a beer.”

For Kurt Collier of Haymarket, Va, the Twilight 4 Miler marked Collier’s 52nd race in 52 weeks—a goal he set out to accomplish to test his own limits and to help inspire others. But the race also held another special meaning.

Collier, 48, lost his left leg when he was hit by a car more than 10 years ago while training for a triathlon. Collier recalls, “I was found straddling my bike, obviously in shock.” He was fortunate enough to survive his injuries and has since regained his strength and competed in numerous races and in the U.S. Paralympics while wearing a prosthetic leg.

“Everyone tonight had great energy, and to support the cause and raise awareness for runners’ safety is so worthwhile,” Collier said. “It’s a tribute, and now for me it’s time to sit back and reflect.”

For Wiggins, the Twilight Festival offered the opportunity to reflect as well. In the spring and summer of 2014, 10 or so local races have Jaime on their list of registrants. Wiggins, who said was never into running, decided to run the races in honor of her sister.

“As a non-runner, I had no idea how tight the running community was and how cool they were and how giving and caring they all are about one another,” Wiggins said. “Going to the events, I see why she liked it so much. It opened my eyes, and now I understand why she loved it so much.”

“If Jaime could see everything the community has done and what’s being done tonight, I can’t even imagine what she would be thinking,” Wiggins said. “I think Jaime would be amazed.”

Runners and walkers head down Pennsylvania Avenue to start the PurpleStrides 5k. Photo: Maggie Lloyd
Runners and walkers head down Pennsylvania Avenue to start the PurpleStrides 5k. Photo: Maggie Lloyd

Freedom Plaza was a sea of purple June 14 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Purple Strides 5k. With little humidity and a light breeze, the weather was perfect for thousands of runners and walkers to make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue.

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] 5k Results [/button-red]Griffin Mackey, 16, of Pittsburgh easily won the race, crossing the finish line in under 17 minutes. Just coming off his track season at Sewickley Academy, Mackey broke away from the field after the first mile and ran unchallenged for the rest of the race. Brian Mahoney of Washington, D.C. finished second.

The women’s race also featured a landslide victory, as Cindy Conant of Kensington pulled away from her competitors after a first mile of 6:04. Michaela Peterson of Bethesda-Chevy Chase didn’t meet her goal of beating her time from last year (19:25), but still placed second.

As runners filtered through the finish area, the crowd was full of support and celebration. Purple tutus, purple wigs, even purple viking horns decorated participants’ outfits. One finisher was ambushed by friends with purple silly string.

Everywhere you looked, signs declared the event’s call to “Know It. Fight It. Beat It.” Saturday’s race raised over $680,000 for pancreatic cancer research and patient support.

Susana Berger was the top fundraiser, raising nearly $30,000 as one of about 60 members of teamBERGER, which raised over $60,000 as the top fundraising group. Camille McIntosh, a survivor and the second top individual fundraiser, raised over $10,000 as a member of JIMBO’s BIMBOS.

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, a severe lack of funding for pancreatic cancer research has limited advancement in detection and treatment of this disease, which is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the US with a five-year relative survival rate of six percent. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network estimates there’s a new diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in the U.S. every 12 minutes.

With Father’s Day the following day, the weekend was particularly emotional for families celebrating survivors or honoring those who have passed away. Bernard Beidel of Centreville beat cancer a few years ago, and walked today’s course holding a large sign with his team, Bern’s Whipple Walkers.

“You don’t get this far without your family,” he said.

Nick (Washington, D.C.) and Rick (New York, N.Y.) Desloge signed up with family and friends in honor of their father, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2012 a year after his diagnosis. Their team raised over $2500 simply through corporate and individual donations.

Tori Selimis of Woodbine, Md.,  a breast cancer survivor, recalled undergoing treatment with her father, who had a recurrence of breast cancer last year. She called it a “very bizarre daddy-daughter date.”

Selimis says she had wanted to be healthier to reduce the chance of a recurrence of her breast cancer, so she signed up for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adult’s Cancer to 5k program with the encouragement of her friends.

“Since I was 37 when I was diagnosed with a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old I had no choice but to try anything that can help increase my survival rate.”

Saturday’s date marked the one-year anniversary of the funeral for Craig Irving’s sister, Viola, who passed away within five months of her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at age 53. Viola had wanted to participate in the Purple Stride 5k last year, so this year her family traveled from Mississippi and Tennessee to honor her as Team Vi’s Victory. Irving, who lives in Alexandria, has learned a lot about pancreatic cancer since last year.

“Getting information is important,” he said. “The first few weeks is when a family needs the most support. Those are precious days, hours, and minutes.”

Irving and Margie Nides, who walked the race in honor of her sister Anne, agreed that meeting other families was one of the most inspirational parts of the day.

“When you look around, you see different stories,” Nides said. Anne Nides showed no symptoms and had no family history of the disease before her diagnosis. Her other sister, Jane, said it was great to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, “targeting the bodies in there who can get the funding” for pancreatic cancer, she said, pointing to the Capitol.

The Desloge brothers said their dad wished for better testing for early detection of pancreatic cancer while he was undergoing treatment. It’s a critical solution that would improve the chances for patients with the deadly disease and their families to know it, fight it, and beat it.

The women's chase pack heads down Canal Road. Photo: Cheryl Young
The women’s chase pack heads down Canal Road. Photo: Cheryl Young

Colleen Smith showed up at Covington and Burling ready to put her legal studies to work as a summer associate. She found out pretty quickly that the partners were also interested in her background in distance running. She ran track at the College of Idaho.

Alan Pemberton told me on my first day I’d be running on the Lawyers Have Heart team,” she said. “The firm is pretty serious about it.”

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] 10k Results [/button-red]She ended up as one of the firm’s 19 runners, and she was third among them across the line in 42:05. The race, a mainstay of June in The District, added a 5k last year. The June 14 10k drew 2,353 finishers and the 5k saw 1,216 people finish. The 10k had seven runners finish just under the billable hour mark- 59:59. From the start on K Street in Georgetown, the courses climbed Whitehurst Freeway and turned onto Canal Road before turning and coming back.

[button-red url=”″ target=”_self” position=”left”] 5k Results [/button-red]The races raise money for the American Heart Association and draw attention to the stressful lives attorneys lead. It’s a kind of wake up call for lapsed athletes.

Stephanie Evans of McLean hurt her ankle last year after the race, but as this June approached, she got back into training. She and fellow WilmerHale partner Brent Gurney, of Bethesda, squeezed in training runs during work, and she finished in 41:40. Gurney considered not coming back, thanks to a few rough races marked by high temperatures and humidity. But team spirit got the best of him and he was surprised by cool breezes and plentiful shade, save for the last mile on Whitehurst Freeway.

“I dry heaved at mile five but after that, I got going,” he said.

Sydney Taylor, a paralegal with Cohen Milstein’s public client group, ran the 5k.

“It was a little early,” she said of the race’s 7 a.m. start time. “I might not have signed up if I knew how early I’d have to be here, but now that it’s over I’m glad I did it.”

On the competitive side, Susanna Sullivan of Falls Church cut three seconds from the women’s course record, running 34:32, and made up for her late-race loss to Claire Hallissey last year.

Her mind set on the Twin Cities Marathon in October, Sullivan has been piling on the miles lately, and worried about feeling flat, but her 5:20 first mile, accompanied by Capital Area Runners teammate Matt Deters, dismissed those concerns.

“It was a little dumb to go out that hard, but coming in I didn’t feel like it was going to be a PR kind of day, so I was focused on getting a good, hard run,” she said. “I was going for the win.”

Two minutes back, second place finisher Lindsay Wilkins of Arlington cruised along most of the race in a pack of women that included Kara Waters of Great Falls, Erin Taylor of Arlington and Barb FallonWallace of Alexandria.

“Having that pack helped and made it fun,” Wilkins said. She won the Capitol Hill Classic 10k  a month ago. “It’s been a few years since I’ve run this course and I remember it being pretty hard, but the pack made it easier to run evenly.”

Wilkins ran off with a mile to go and left Fallon-Wallace with a “welcome back” moment after almost six months of injury.

“It felt pretty good until the end,” she said. “Then everyone gave it all they had, and I got passed. If was a comfortable race, considering not running much.”

Neal Darmody planned to start pushing the pace on Mark Leininger at the 5k mark, but he started a little early.

“I took the lead at mile 2 and got in a little deep earlier than I wanted,” he said. “By 3.5 miles, he took over.”

Though Leininger put a 32 second margin on him to win — 30:50-31:22 — Darmody is encouraged after starting a comeback after a few years of meager training after his High Point University career ended. He drove up from Durham the night before, where he is a graduate student at Duke University.

“The races are so much better up here,” he said. Darmody grew up in Maryland and ran at Quince Orchard High School.

Troy Miles and Carmela Wood, both of Bowie, found that out today. It was their first race, which they ran with the encouragement of their friend, Jullion Taylor, a paralegal. They trained for a month, hitting a long run of 4.77 miles. That meant the 10k would involve some new territory, and they both met the challenge.

“I think the last mile was my best,” Miles said. “We turned the corner (with roughly a quarter-mile to go) and you could just launch toward the finish line.”

Wood was less confident at first.

“After five miles, I was pretty tired,” she said. “I don’t know where I got to energy to sprint at the finish.”

Not everyone was a lawyer, paralegal or prompted to run by one.

Jackie Kline rounded up three friends to form a team — the FLAWless Ladies.

“It’s a little awkward,” she said, “but we like to be clever.”


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