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A first-time marathoner shares her experiences. By Kelsey Lindsey
Skydivers kicked off the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon. Photographs by Kelsey Lindsey.

Now that my endorphins have settled and my feet have returned to a semi-functioning state, I can say definitively that my Marine Corps Marathon experience was a success. Sunday morning brought clear skies, great weather, and hordes of eager runners ready to hit the trail.

After clearing security at the starting area near Memorial Avenue in Arlington, I joined the mass of runners peering up to the sky to watch skydivers, including Medal of Honor recipient Ret. Marine Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter, descend to Earth before the 7:55 AM start. Carpenter went on to compete in the race, along with the honorary starter, actor Sean Astin from Rudy and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Once the opening ceremonies were complete, the patter of nearly 60,000 sneakers sounded as runners slowly made it to the start line to begin their races. The weather continued to be agreeably sunny and cool; the only minor complaint I could offer is the gusty winds I encountered while crossing the I-395 bridge back into Crystal City between miles 20 and 21. Many people seemed to putter out on this bit, walking the length of the bridge or even pulling to side to stretch cramping legs.

Most of the course—winding its way through Georgetown, up and down Rock Creek Parkway and through South Potomac Park, and down the mall before finally ending in Rosslyn next to the Marine Corps War Memorial—was much more scenic than the bridge, which helped distract me from my throbbing feet. And when questions like “Why am I doing this?” and “I can still say I ran a marathon even if I walk a few miles, right?” popped into my head, they were quickly dispelled by the cheers of thousands of volunteers and spectators lining the roads, holding hilarious posters and shouting encouragement. That—okay, and the motivation of unlimited pizza brunch awaiting me after the race—kept me pushing to the finish line.

Fittingly, the Armed Forces were well represented at the top of the podium, with two members of the Army finishing first in the men and women’s categories. US Army Specialist Samuel Kosgei, 30, from Junction City, Kansas, finished first in the men’s category at 2:22:11 in his inaugural MCM race. New Jersey native and US Army Capt. Meghan Curran, 29, snagged first place in the women’s division with a time of 2:51:46, all the more impressive for her being a first-time marathoner. Arlington natives Michael Wardian, an ultramarathoner, and Graham Tribble came in fourth and fifth overall, respectively, finishing ten seconds apart (2:25:45 and 2:25:52).

And me? I was just happy to come close to catching Oprah Winfrey, who ran the race in 1994 in 4:29:15. I came in just 14 seconds later. Looks like I have a new goal to beat next year.

The view from the running route.
The race finished at the Marine Corps War Memorial.

Posted at 11:50 AM/ET, 10/27/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Tweets and pictures from the road race, which turned 30 this year. By Tanya Pai

On Sunday morning, around 35,000 runners gathered for the 30th annual Army Ten Miler. Of the 26,238 finishers, 25-year-old Kerri Gallagher won the women’s overall for the third consecutive year, finishing in 54:50—six seconds faster than her 2013 time, which broke the course record. Army Spc. Caroline Jepleting, who flew in from Germany for the race, came in second in the women's division, earning the top US military finisher spot with a time of 56:34. Solonei Da Silva, 32, won the men’s overall for the second year in a row, with a time of 48:28.

The 2015 Army Ten-Miler is scheduled for October 11. Read on for some highlights from this year’s race below, and see more photos via Flickr.

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Posted at 12:45 PM/ET, 10/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The DC resident’s victory Sunday was her biggest yet. By Paulina Kosturos
Kaitlin Sheedy celebrates her win with Shalane Flanagan (L) and Joan Benoit Samuelson (R). Photographs courtesy of Nike.

Kaitlin Sheedy, 31, has been running track since high school—but she’s never won a race as large as Sunday’s before. The Massachusetts native, who competed collegiately at Tufts, is the second District resident to win the Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC in as many years, finishing with a time of 1:20:56. We caught up with her the day after her big win to find out how she pulled it off.

How did it feel to represent the Washington area in the second-ever Nike Women’s Half?

It’s very cool. It means a lot to me to live in an area where I can take advantage of all of the beautiful running trails—it’s just a great city to be active in. It was really special to win such a big event in my home away from home. I’ve lived here for so long that it definitely feels like home, so if I were to pick anywhere other than Boston to win something like this, it would be DC. It was very special to have the local community supporting the event.

Was there anything particularly challenging about the race?

Nike made it really easy logistically for all of the participants, and being a resident of DC, it was great to just jog down to the start [line] in the morning and get to enjoy all of the sights I see during my training runs. This is a great time of year to just appreciate the beauty of the city. The course itself was pretty fast; there were a couple of inclines, but in general, it was a flat, fast course. And the weather couldn’t have been better. We really lucked out.

Did you do anything special the night before the race to prep?

I tried to get a bunch of sleep the week before. I didn’t sleep too well the night before the race. I was waking up pretty early to make sure I could eat before, so I had a restless night’s sleep, as I usually do the night before a race, from nerves and excitement. And then I just tried to relax during the day and week before and stay off my feet to rest up. 

Sheedy crossing the finish line.

How did it feel to cross the finish line?

It was pretty thrilling. I’ve never won a big race before, so it was a new experience for me. I heard some friends along the way in that last loop of the finish line, and I remember coming around the corner when I could see the finish line—the crowd was so loud, and that’s when I realized, Oh, my gosh, I could win this! Breaking the tape was really exciting; it was just a cool experience to be the first one to cross. 

Who was out there cheering you on? 

My husband was there. The course is really spectator-friendly, so he was able to see me, I think he calculated seven times, which is always a lot of fun for both the runners and the supporters. Then I had some other teammates out there and some friends from a nonprofit I volunteer for, TeensRunDC—a lot of those students were out there cheering, which was inspiring. They were at mile 13, so they got to see me in the last push. It makes it a lot of fun for the runners and the spectators when you can see who you are cheering for multiple times. 

Aside from winning, what was your favorite part of the experience?

I think just taking in all of the great fans. It was also awesome to see so many local bands cheering us on along the way and pumping up all the runners and the cheerleaders; the energy was just really great throughout the course. The other women were also inspiring: At several points in the race, the course kind of looped around, so you got to see many other women working hard together to accomplish their goal. Overall it was just a really fun experience—beautiful day, beautiful course. 

What motivates you when you run?

I think a lot about my friends and family, and teammates I’ve had in the past and that I run with now. I mentioned briefly before that I volunteer with TeensRunDC, which is a local nonprofit where adult volunteers mentor DC youth; we do long-distance running to help the kids set goals for themselves and make them feel like they can achieve anything in life. I think a lot about those kids who get up early on Saturdays to come run with us and are just really determined to reach their goals. It was exciting that they were out on the course yesterday and were able to see me at the end. So I definitely want to make them proud and want to make my family proud, and I try to relax and think about the training I’ve put in and appreciate the opportunity to get out there and race. I feel really fortunate that I’m able to run and able to do so in such a runner-friendly city.

Do you have any advice for anyone interested in running Nike’s race next year?

I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested. It is a lottery-system entry, so unfortunately it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get in, but it was a really fun experience. I would say for those people who do want to commit to running a half marathon, stick it out through those tough winter runs, and it will really pay off when you’re able to enjoy the race and finish on hopefully a beautiful spring day like we had this year.

Posted at 10:13 AM/ET, 04/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The annual event raised more than $2.6 million for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. By Tanya Pai
Runners stop for a photo op in front of the Capitol Building. Photographs by Tanya Pai.

Despite some light snow on Saturday morning, the annual Cupid’s Undie Run went off without a hitch. Runners in various costumes and stages of undress gathered on Capitol Hill for the 1.1-mile dash through the streets to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. This year’s sold-out event was helped along by pre-registration in the preceding week, ensuring shorter lines of scantily clad participants waiting in the cold the day of. Nationals mascot Screech showed up, in sparkly red underwear, to take photos with fans; we also witnessed one boxer-clad runner, perhaps swept up in the spirit of Cupid, get down on one knee and propose to his girlfriend at the finish line.

Since starting in DC in 2010, the run has expanded to 27 cities in the US—including, for the first time, Baltimore—and three cities in Australia. In total, the events raised more than $2.6 million for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

See more photos from the run below.

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Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 02/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
He completed the Las Vegas Marathon just hours after winning in San Antonio. By Melissa Romero

A local runner fell short of making history yesterday when he just barely missed clocking two sub-2:30 marathons in the same day.

Still, Michael Wardian can’t complain too much—he managed to go home with a gold medal.

The father of two won Sunday morning’s Rock ’n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon in 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 9 seconds. But there was no time for celebration. Wardian headed straight for the airport with 200 other runners to fly 1,200 miles to compete in the Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas marathon at 4:30.

The Washington running community has long been witness to Wardian’s impressive feats. In addition to winning countless marathons and ultramarathons, the Arlington professional runner has also garnered some fun titles, including the world record for the fastest marathon in a superhero costume—he dressed as Spider-Man for the Lower Potomac Marathon in 2011.

Going into the weekend, Wardian’s goal was to finish both marathons in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. Ultimately, he crossed the finish line in 2:57:56 in Las Vegas and finished tenth. On the women’s side, Dorothy Beal of Leesburg ran a new personal record of 3:17:59 and earned herself a fifth-place finish.

“I was happy to be out there and come through in under three hours,” Wardian told after the race. “You’ve got to make different goals when things aren’t going your way.”

But there are no breaks for Wardian’s legs anytime soon. This Saturday he’ll run the historic JFK 50-Mile in Boonsboro, Maryland.

Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 11/18/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The man has been disqualified. By Melissa Romero
The winner of the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon 10K was disqualified after he admitted to wearing a friend's bib. Photograph via Shutterstock.

The winner of last Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon 10K was disqualified for race-crashing, according to a Marine Corps Marathon spokesperson.

The man, whose name has been removed from the official results list, was from France and won the 6.2-mile race in 32:20 minutes. However, he later admitted he wore a friend’s bib and was not registered for the sold-out event, which drew 10,000 runners. The Marine Corps Marathon now recognizes 25-year-old Stephn Gedron of Massachusetts as the official 10K winner with a time of 33:19.

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Posted at 12:02 PM/ET, 10/31/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus: Our favorite photos from the 26.2-mile race. By Melissa Romero

The 2013 Marine Corps Marathon brought 30,000 runners and thousands of spectators to the District Sunday morning after weeks of worry that a government shutdown would force postponement—or at worst a cancellation—of the storied “people’s marathon.”

On the men’s side, there was no question after mile one that Girma Bedada of Ethiopia would cross the finish line first. Bedada, 33, led the pack for 25 miles and won with a time of 2:21:32, with an average pace of 5:23 per mile.

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Posted at 10:11 AM/ET, 10/28/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The 65-year-old set a new course record in his age group. By Melissa Romero
“At the finish I raised my arms in triumph and shouted,” William Christopher Wren said when he heard he was first place in his age group at the 2013 Ironman World Championships. Wren, 65, also broke the course record for his age group and lives in Arlington. Photograph courtesy of FinisherPix.

It’s been more than a week since the Ironman World Championship in Kona, and William Christopher Wren’s calves are still sore.

“There were a couple of days where it was nearly impossible to walk down stairs,” the Arlington resident admits.

But with pain came serious gain for the 65-year-old. With a time of 10 hours, 44 minutes, and 31 seconds, Wren became this year’s Ironman World Champion in the 65 to 69 age group. He also set a new course record in his age group, besting the previous time by 34 minutes.

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Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 10/22/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
DC resident Kerri Gallagher takes gold and sets a new course record. By Melissa Romero

Despite weeks of concern that the government shutdown would derail the Army Ten-Miler, the race went off as planned Sunday morning and ended with a new course record set by a local DC runner. 

Kerri Gallagher, 24, won the women’s race with a time of 54:56, running a little less than 5:30 minutes per mile. She broke the previous course record of 55:25, which was held by Northern Virginia runner Samia Akbar. It was the second Army Ten-Miler win in a row for Gallagher, who is coached by Matt Centrowitz, the head coach of American University’s cross-country and track programs and a top Washingtonian running coach

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Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 10/21/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Runners complained of traffic jams, lack of restroom facilities, and the hilly course. By Melissa Romero
The DC Diva Half Marathon and 5K took place in Leesburg on Saturday, September 14. Runners complained of traffic jams, long lines to the restrooms, and a difficult course. Photograph via Flickr user slgckgc.

On paper, this past weekend’s inaugural DC Divas Half Marathon and 5K in Leesburg sounded like a dream: a road race through Virginia’s wine country followed by Champagne at the finish line. But based on the hundreds of complaints flooding the race’s Facebook page, it’s clear runners were none too pleased with the outcome.

The Saturday race, which had 3,511 total participants for the half marathon and 5K, experienced a series of snafus that led to a start time delayed by about 90 minutes, long lines at the bathrooms, and no celebratory drink at the finish line.

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Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 09/17/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()