Jason Fitzgerald of Silver Spring nears the halfway mark of the Potomac River Run Marathon Sunday. Photo: Cheryl Young
Jason Fitzgerald of Silver Spring nears the halfway mark of the Potomac River Run Marathon Sunday. Photo: Cheryl Young

The factors that made Sunday’s race could have been the perfect weather, the flat course on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, or months of hard work and training. Whatever the factors were, the 10th annual Potomac River Run Marathon seemed to have the perfect combination of elements that allowed many participants to qualify for the Boston Marathon and, for many, achieve a new personal record.

[button-red url=”http://youngrunner.smugmug.com/Race-Photo-Galleries/PRR-2013-Marathon-Half/i-vDjDfS6″ target=”_self” position=”left”]Photos[/button-red]Weeks before Strength Running Coach Jason Fitzgerald passed the leader at mile 24.5 at Sunday’s race, he was cheering on two of his athletes in the Boston Marathon at mile 25.5. Afterward, he went to a restaurant in Cambridge, where his phone started to ring. His family and friends had heard what had happened at the race.

[button-red url=”http://www.safetyandhealthfoundation.org/20130505.html” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red] “It was a challenging time to be in Boston,” Fitzgerald said. “Even more so if you were a runner and coach.”

Fitzgerald clenched the first-place prize in the Potomac River Run Marathon. His goal in the race was to qualify for the Boston Marathon by 10 minutes. Although he had qualified before, he had never taken advantage of the opportunity. But just moments after making qualifying time, Fitzgerald said he plans to compete in the 2014 Boston Marathon. Fitzgerald said that next year’s race will be that much more special for anyone running.

Albeit a chilly start, temperatures rose to what many runners considered perfect. Along with “Air Quality Awareness Week,” the marathon celebrated “World Laughter Day,” which prompted race director Jay Wind of the Safety And Health Foundation to tell jokes at the starting line.

“There’s nothing quite so funny being out on a race day wearing very little clothing,” Wind said. “We really just try to have fun with it, that’s the bottom line.”

Kirby Mills joined the many athletes who accomplished a qualifying time for the 2014 Boston Marathon and a new personal record. Prior to competing in the race, Mills, who serves in the Marine Corps and is currently stationed at Quantico, missed a Boston qualifying time in March by only 34 seconds.

“I fought to get orders back in Virginia to be close to my family and knock out some races on the east coast,” Mills said. “As I move around in the Marine Corps…I hope to run a Marathon in every section of the United States.”

Mills is a member of the National Marathon Maniacs group, which has a minimum requirement for members to run three marathons every 90 days. The Potomac River Run Marathon marked Mills’ 54th marathon.

“You can’t beat the virtually flat, in-the-shade course, with trees blocking the wind,” Mills said. “It was an easy course with no real tangents to worry about.”

The twice out-and-back course on the sandy—but sometimes rocky—C&O towpath had the potential to be a mental challenge for some. But Chip Warfel and his Mid Maryland Triathlon Club teammates, Heather Beutel and Dan Mooney were not fazed. In fact, Warfel said that he liked the two-time turnaround course.

“Having a turn-around broke up the race,” Warfel said. “It was almost like running a mile—you knew you only had four laps to go.”

At the beginning of the triathlon season, Warfel, Beutel and Mooney all wanted to make the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon—and they did. Warfel said that after the Boston Marathon bombings, he was more motivated to qualify for the race.

“I really want to be there next year to show that no one is going stop anybody from doing this,” Warfel said.

Warfel’s teammate, Deb Taylor, who served as a pacer during the race, will also join her teammates of the Mid Maryland Triathlon club to compete in the 2014 Boston Marathon.

“There’s not a lot of things we can do,” Taylor said. “But as runners, the one thing we can do is show up.”

The Safety And Health Foundation Board of Directors agreed the day after the Boston Marathon bombings to donate $1,000 to the One Fund Boston, an organization that was established to assist the victims of the bombing at the finish line.


2 Comment
Scott Vinads of Philadelpha cruises through the Seneca Greenway Trail 50k. Photo by Ken Trombatore
Scott Vinads of Philadelpha cruises through the Seneca Greenway Trail 50k. Photo by Ken Trombatore

Runners of all ages turned out for the Seneca Greenway Trail Race, which took runners through a rolling course consisting of a mostly smooth dirt path in the Damascus Regional Park. The two scenic courses turned out to be 29.71 miles for the “marathon” distance and 32.6 miles for the “50k” distance. With a cool temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit and snow flurries, competitors started out in the Lower Magruder Branch Side Trail out of Damascus. This connected them to the Seneca Creek Greenway Trail and followed the Potomac River at “Riley’s Lock.”

[button-red url=”http://results.active.com/events/seneca-greenway-trail-race/trail-marathon/expanded” target=”_self” position=”left”] Marathon Results [/button-red]“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Alex Roederer, 15 of Bethesda, Md., as he tried to refuel his body with fluids just moments after the race.

Roederer made Seneca Greenway Trail Race history as the youngest marathon winner to-date. With a time of 4:19:27, Roederer ran with the leading pack for most of the race until the 50k and marathon courses split. Before today, his longest race-distance had only [button-red url=”http://results.active.com/events/seneca-greenway-trail-race/seneca-greenway-50k/expanded” target=”_self” position=”left”] 50k Results [/button-red]been 13 miles. That’s the same point in the race at which Roederer said he “stopped thinking.”

Training for the high school track season ahead, Roederer is just getting started. He said he plans to do more marathons in the future.

Finishing close behind Roederer and leading the 50k race pack were brothers Tyler Burke, 27 of Washington and Shaun Burke, 25 of Chicago. Tyler, who had completed three 50ks before the Seneca Greenway Trail Race, was just seconds ahead of his brother with a time of 04:27:11. Shaun, with a finishing time of 4:27:44, said he enjoyed the break from running in the windy city.

“Being from Chicago, it was a nice change of pace being in the foothills and mountains,” Shaun said.

Shaun began running shortly after college where he needed a change in lifestyle.

“When I had five math classes, nothing but frozen pizzas and lots of beer, I decided I needed to do something, so running was the way to go,” he said.

After experiencing the Seneca Greenway Trail course, Shaun said he plans to take a break from triathlons and focus solely on running.

“For a $70 pair of shoes and $20 pair of shorts, I can go out and have fun,” he said.

Both of the brothers plan on competing in the North Face 50 Miler in June.

Though racing in beautiful foothills and mountains was rewarding for most runners, planning for the race was no easy task. Race Director Harvey Sugar of Montgomery County Road Runners Club insisted that nobody take photos of him—he hadn’t had any time to shave in two days and had been up since 4 a.m. preparing for the race. With nearly 270 runners competing, Sugar said runners come out for the course and for the “spirit of the race.”

“We try to keep it low key and down to the basics–trail runners like that,” Sugar said. “We’ll have people do this race over and over again.”

Sugar thanked the hard-working volunteers from the Montgomery Road Runners Club and the Virginia happy trails running club. In total more than 100 volunteers helped run the race. He also said the race would not have been possible without Ed Schultze, who passed the torch on to Sugar and had directed it for the past 10 years.

Clemence Vauzelle, 24 of Annadale and originally from France was the first-place marathon female finisher with a time of 4:55:16. She described the course as “playful.”

“This is really my favorite type of trail,” Vauzelle said. “It’s a little rocky, muddy and had some roots, but you can still go fast.”

The course was familiar for Vauzelle who runs these trails every Sunday morning and usually sees foxes and deer and hears birds chirp.. She has been training with the Montgomery County Winter Trail Running Club in preparation for the race. Not expecting to win, Vauzelle was told at the aide station at the 30-mile mark, she was the first woman to come by.

For David Welch, 44 of Frederick Md., the Seneca Greenway Trail was his first long trail race. Welch, who crossed the finish line with his young son who ran with him the last 100 yards of the race, explained why his shoes looked the way they did at the end of the race.

“I fell in the stream,” Welch said. “But it at least got my shoes clean.”

Close to the finish, runners crossed a cold and rocky creek. Runners had the option of using a rope to help them cross, but some didn’t need it.

“I took a little ice bath in between,” said Cori Brindle, 31 of Mechanicsburg, Pa., who kneeled in the creek to cool off her leg.

Brindle won the 50k female division with a time of 4:59:05. The Seneca Greenway Trail was only Brindle’s second trail race. She is headed to the Boston Marathon in April.

“I was planning on doing the marathon distance but a woman at the water station convinced me I’d feel better at the end if I did the 50k, so I sucked it up,” Brindle said.

Most runners had to follow suit and “suck it up” to finish the two courses that ended up being a longer distance than they had planned for. But this is part of the trade-off to compete on smooth, scenic paths through the woods.


Subscribe to our mailing list