By Brenda Barrera
Richmond, VA
November 12, 2011
For the Washington Running Report

It is not always the case, but sometimes everything just comes together perfectly on race day. Like ideal weather in the 40s on a historic course along lush fall scenery with a competitive field that pushes you to your best. That was the case for the many runners at this year’s SunTrust Richmond Marathon, McDonald’s Half Marathon and HCA Virginia 8K that set a record with 17,073 runners.

SunTrust Richmond Marathon

Kennedy Kemei (left) did not let a field that included the defending champion, Mark Chepses, and two-time winner Jynocel Baswetti, intimidate him. No, the 33-year-old Kenyan based in Chapel Hill, NC took command of this year’s SunTrust Richmond Marathon and smashed the course record winning in 2:13:45. Njoroge Maina, 27, from Kenya took the runner-up spot in 2:15:16 and Baswetti, who missed last year’s contest, had to settle for third place in 2:16:00.

Patterson Wilhelm, 24, from Lynchburg, VA was the top American to finish in his inaugural marathon. The William and Mary graduate posted an impressive 2:20:27.

“I was probably too aggressive in mile 13 to 18,” he said and added this was only his second road race. In September he ran the Virginia 10 Miler where he finished 6th overall in 52:48.

Richard “Skeeter” Morris, 23, from Burkeville, VA is heading to New Zealand in a few weeks and will savor his 2:29:47 race. “I wanted to run a sub-2:30,” he said.

Baltimore’s Kris Simms, 39, ran 2:53:39 and at the finish line exclaimed, “I would definitely do this again.”

With no past champions entered in the women’s competition the top spot was up for grabs. Mekides Bekele, 25, from New York (right) ran 2:47:50 to capture the crown. Aimee Phillippi-Taylor, 34, from Spring Grove, PA was aiming for a U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time of 2:46:00 and finished in 2:49:53 but earned the runner-up spot.

“I realized at mile 16 it wasn’t going to happen [finishing in 2:46:00] so I just wanted to place as high as I could,” said Phillippi-Taylor who won some prize money for her effort. When asked what she was going to do with her earnings, she looked at her husband and they both laughed and said it was already spent—they just bought a house.

Hirut Mandefro, 26, from Ethiopia took third in 2:53:26.


McDonald’s Half Marathon

Kenyan George Towett, 27, defended his title and breezed through the 13.1 course to win again. His time was 1:04:34. Kipyegon Kirui, 31, also from Kenya, finished two minutes later in 1:06:31. Jay Lumpkins, 26, from Lakeland, FL tried to catch Kirui down the final stretch but had to settle for third place with his 1:06:34 finish.

The top Richmond finisher was Piotr Dybas, 24, (left) originally from Poland and who was a top runner for Virginia Commonwealth University. His time of 1:09:11 placed him 11th overall.

Sterling Parker, 46 was impressed with the organization and all of the spectators along the course. “My favorite band was the drummers [University of Richmond Taiko Ensemble,]” said the Glen Allen resident who finished under two hours in 1:58:25.

The women’s competition had a clear winner in Bekelech Bedada, 19, from Ethiopia who set a course record with her 1:13:33 finish. Esther Erb, (below) who grew up in Richmond and now lives in Blowing Rock, NC ran 1:16:50 for second place. Sporting a Green Dragon tattoo on her cheek, the Maggie Walker graduate was cheered on by her parents. Erb would have liked to run faster but said her focus right now is on the upcoming U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials in January. She qualified with a 2:39:47 marathon in Spain.

Richmond’s Rena Chesser, 29, finished third in 1:19:27. The fact that she was able to compete was a surprise. “I had the flu for ten days and couldn’t run at all,” said Chesser who was hoping to finish in 1:15:00.

The Capital Area Runners had several team members competing. Cristina Burbach who finished in 1:29:36 was pleasantly surprised by the course. “It had nice hills in the middle which was a nice variation,” and she added, “It was also a visually interesting course.”

American record holder for the mile, Alan Webb, was on hand to welcome the participants and had the role of official starter for the half marathon. His wife, Julia, took fourth place in 1:20:17.


HCA Virginia 8K

To say it was a nail biter finish is no exaggeration as the morning’s first race came down to the wire with Donnie Cowart from Charlottesville, VA (left in photo) battling it out with Kenyan Julius Kogo down the homestretch and breaking the tape together. Last year Cowart finished fifth overall and this year he had a different plan.

“I wanted to win this year or at least battle for the win,” said Cowart who ran for VMI.

All went according to plan as the lead pack of ten runners whittled down to four around 3.5 miles. At mile 4 Cowart said he and Kogo separated from the others and tested each other with neither taking a break. When Cowart saw the finish line banner he admits to having a fleeting thought about the prize money which was $1,000 for first place and $500 for second place. That gave him the extra nudge he needed because even though their times show up the same as 22:57, he squeaked ahead of Kogo, 22:56.20 to 22:56.26.

Kenyan Samuel Ndereba, 34, who set the course record in 2006, had to settle for third place with his 23:01 this year.

Ethiopia’s Alemtsehay Misganaws no stranger to this course having won the half marathon in 2008 and 2009. Afterward, Misganaw said she took off after the second mile and no one gave chase. She won in 26:17 to add the HCA Virginia 8K title to her résumé VCU. Lilia Marlita, 23, from Kenya finished next in 26:26 and hometown favorite Nicol Traynor, 22, was very pleased with her third place finish.

“My coach originally told me to go 27:30 and then we changed that to 27:00,” said Traynor who completes for the Richmond Spiders. Apparently her training is going well because she surpassed that goal finishing in 26:35.

Next year’s SunTrust Richmond Marathon is scheduled for November 10, 2012. A special $55 marathon entry fee and $45 half marathon entry fee is available through 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, November 17.


By Brenda Barrera
Virginia Beach, VA
September 4, 2011
For the Washington Running Report

Yoko Miyauchi wins in 1:11:49, three seconds off the state record.

Labor Day weekend may signal the ‘official’ end of summer; but for the 11,219 runners who toed the start line at today’s Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, it was the start of a festive race featuring live bands at every mile and a fun-filled weekend of activities that included a post-race party on the beach and free pass to the American Music Festival. Two new champions were crowned: Benson Barus, 31, from Kenya won the overall title in 1:02:22 and Japan’s Yoko Miyauchi, 28, led the women’s field in 1:11:49.

Barus is certainly having a good year, going back to May when he won the Prague Marathon in 2:07:07. Under cloudy skies with low humidity, he led a men’s field that included countryman Solomon Busendich, 27, who finished 13 seconds behind him in 1:02:35. It looked as if American Ryan Hall was going to take the third place but he got edged out by one second at the finish line by Kenyan Samuel Ndereba and had to settle for fourth place. They finished 1:03:01 and 1:03:02, respectively(in photo).

“Hats off to the guys,” said Hall who was certainly a crowd favorite. The top U.S. contender did not seem disappointed but admitted although he tried, he could not hold off Busendich those last 30 yards. Next up for Hall is the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October. Fredericksburg native Tim Young, 24, running for the Brooks-Hanson Distance Team, took 11th place in 1:07:23, well off the PR he set in February at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Half Marathon (1:04:21).

The top Mid-Atlantic finisher was Andrew Budiansky, 21, (who grew up in Leesburg) from Williamsburg, VA, who finished in 1:12:18.

Russian Vyscheslav Shabunin, 41, dominated the men’s masters competition. He not only ran 1:04:49, but also cracked the top 10 with his 9th place finish. Gideon Mutisya, 42, from West Hartford, CT was next in 1:12:09 followed by top local favorite John Piggott, 46, who did not have to travel far (Williamsburg, VA) to take the next spot in 1:16:33 and win his age group.

Tony Nogueira, 43, of Glen Ridge, NJ won the men’s wheelchair division in 48:24. The top local wheelchair racer was Shannon Franks, 34, of College Park, MD (1:05:59).

Japanese runners took eight of the top 10 places, dominating the women’s elite field. Miyauchi did not take the lead under after the 10 mile mark; but once she did, she held onto it to win the top spot. Kenyan Jane Kibii set a PR with her 1:12:04 second place finish and Olympian Yurika Nakamura, 25, from Japan was right behind her in 1:12:10. Nuta Olaru, 44, the 2004 Rock ‘n’ Roll Champion from Romania, was the top masters in 1:14:05 and finished 9th among the women. The top American was a teenager–at just 14 years of age, Alana Hadley, from Charlotte, NC finished in 11th place with a remarkable time of 1:17:14.

The top Mid-Atlantic runner in the women’s competition was Alexandria’s Lisa Thomas, racing for the Pacers.

“We had a nice pack for seven miles,” said Thomas who picked up the pace the second half and started to pick off runners on her way to a 1:19:02 finish. Afterward she and teammate Lyndsay Wilkins noted the efficiency of the race start. “We were impressed it went off so smoothly, there weren’t any delays,” she said.

Another top regional finisher was Elyse Shimada, 23, who ran 1:23:09. Shamada just moved from California to Washington, DC last month and started law school.

“I used this as a tune-up for the Chicago Marathon,” said Shimada who noted she is still getting used to the east coast humidity. Lucky for her this was one year where the humidity level was actually lower than usual for this event.

One of the most popular runners in the race was not an elite, nor a speedy local, but a relay team participant who ran in a pair of torn up jeans and cowboy hat. Yes, many runners spotted that flowing mane of blond hair from under the signature cowboy hat and sped up to run with Josh Renager, whom they thought was rock star Bret Michaels (above). The resemblance was pretty remarkable.

What would a Rock ‘n’ Roll race be without Elvis? Jeff Brillhart, 48, from Chesapeake, VA finished in 1:49:59 and this marked his second time running this event in an Elvis costume. “It sure is easier to a run a half marathon than a marathon in this costume,” said Brillhart adding that the black wig was rather hot.

Rose Polyakova, 41, from Silver Spring MD  (below women’s times) has run a few of the Rock ‘n’ Roll races this year and thought she was registered for this one but she was not. Luckily, she was able to sign up on Saturday at the Expo and showed up wearing a buccaneer costume for the race. She finished in 2:33:49.

Virginia Beach is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country so it is not surprising that Katie Farmer (Ashburn, VA) who is getting married this fall would pick this for her bachelorette weekend. “Team Bride” included Farmer, Terese Hereford (Columbia, SC), Sara Bontuccelli (VA), and Caitlin Marshall (Woodbridge, VA).

Next year’s Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon is scheduled for September 2, 2011.



Place Name Age Hometown Net Time Pace Gun Time
1 Yoko Miyauchi 28 Japan 1:11:48 5:29 1:11:49
2 Jane Kibil 26 Kenya 1:12:04 5:30 1:12:04
3 Yurika Nakamura 25 Japan 1:12:10 5:31 1:12:10
4 Fumiko Hashimoto 22 Japan 1:12:19 5:32 1:12:20
5 Risa Shigemoto 24 Japan 1:12:34 5:33 1:12:34
6 Hiroko Shoi 31 Japan 1:13:16 5:36 1:13:16
7 Mao Kurodo 21 Japan 1:13:37 5:37 1:13:37
8 Yumi Soto 34 Japan 1:13:40 5:38 1:13:41
9 Nuta Olaru 41 Romania 1:14:05 5:40 1:14:05
10 Korei Omata 24 Japan 1:14:22 5:41 1:14:22
11 Alana Hadley 14 Charlotte, NC 1:17:14 5:54 1:17:15
12 Lyubov Denisova 39 Russia 1:17:40 5:56 1:17:41
13 Leah Thorvilson 32 Little Rock, AR 1:17:56 5:57 1:17:56
14 Lisa Thomas 35 Alexandria, VA 1:19:02 6:02 1:19:03
15 Renee High 29 Virginia Beach, VA 1:19:25 6:04 1:19:26
16 Nicky Archer 25 Great Britain 1:20:04 6:07 1:20:05
17 Lindsay Wilkins 33 Arlington, VA 1:20:42 6:10 1:20:43
18 Elyse Shimada 23 Washington, DC 1:23:09 6:21 1:23:11
19 Kristen Lawrence 31 Virginia Beach, VA 1:23:12 6:21 1:23:13
20 Lydia Carrick 26 Greenville, DE 1:24:05 6:25 1:24:06
21 Amanda Scott 24 Boulder, CO 1:24:31 6:27 1:24:33
22 Catherine Seaton 32 Raleigh, NC 1:24:41 6:28 1:24:42
23 Jillian Pollack 22 Winchester, VA 1:25:21 6:31 1:25:23
24 Courtney Chapman 27 Mc Lean, VA 1:25:49 6:33 1:25:50
25 Fabiana Perlingeiro 34 Norfolk, VA 1:25:54 6:34 1:26:01



Place Name Age Hometown Net Time Pace Gun Time
1 Benson Barus 31 Kenya 1:02:21 4:46 1:02:22
2 Solomon Busendich 27 Kenya 1:02:35 4:47 1:02:35
3 Samual Ndercba 34 Kenya 1:03:01 4:49 1:03:01
4 Ryan Hall 28 Mammoth Lakes, CA 1:03:01 4:49 1:03:02
5 Reid Coolsaet 32 Canada 1:03:16 4:50 1:03:16
6 Eric Gillis 31 Canada 1:03:34 4:51 1:03:34
7 Josphat Boit 27 Kenya 1:04:31 4:56 1:04:32
8 Hironori Arai 31 Japan 1:04:32 4:56 1:04:33
9 Vyscheslav Shabunin 41 Russia 1:04:49 4:57 1:04:50
10 Koichi Sakai 25 Japan 1:06:18 5:04 1:06:19
11 Tim Young 24 Rochester Hills, MI 1:07:23 5:09 1:07:23
12 Kazuki Onishi 24 Japan 1:07:34 5:10 1:07:34
13 Brian Lyons 30 St. Louis, MO 1:07:46 5:11 1:07:47
14 Ben Fletcher 0 Albuquerque, NM 1:08:13 5:13 1:08:14
15 Bryce Livingston 24 Tucson, AZ 1:11:17 5:27 1:11:18
16 Chad Carr 35 Cambridge, MA 1:11:22 5:27 1:11:24
17 Christain Hesch 32 Hollywood, CA 1:11:41 5:29 1:11:42
18 Gideon Mutisya 43 West Hartford, CT 1:12:09 5:31 1:12:09
19 Andrew Budiansky 21 Williamsburg, VA 1:12:18 5:31 1:12:18
20 Kyle Carrick 30 Greenville, DE 1:12:18 5:31 1:12:19
21 Luis Gutierrez 26 Austin, TX 1:12:32 5:32 1:12:32
22 Blaine O’Reilly 22 Hayes, VA 1:12:45 5:33 1:12:46
23 Matt Hoerner 20 Harrisonburg, VA 1:13:12 5:35 1:13:14
24 Tim Surface 32 Raleigh, NC 1:13:40 5:38 1:13:41
25 Juan Martinez 33 Syracuse, NY 1:14:36 5:42 1:14:37


Place    Name           Sex    Age    City  State    Time
1    Tony    Nogueira    M    43    Glen Ridge NJ     48:24
2    Aaron    Pike       M    25    CHAMPAIGN IL      51:45
3    Chad    Johnson     M    36    Charleston IN     54:07
4    Shannon   Franks    M    34    College Park MD  1:05:59
5    Paul Kelly-Crank    M    55    BEAUFORT NC      1:53:32
6    Christopher Levari  M    33    CHESAPEAKE VA    3:01:24

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