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WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 28) – One week after the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) made a statement at the Army Ten-Miler, its team made another statement in the nation’s capital at the 37th Marine Corps Marathon, filling three of the top seven spots in the nation’s fourth-largest 26.2-mile race, which achieved record participation levels.
Led by Army Specialist Augustus Maiyo, who was a close second at the Army Ten-Miler seven days ago, WCAP bolted from the start as a team and scored first, second and seventh in the Marines’ annual showcase event.
“I actually wanted to win as a team,” said the 29-year-old Kenyan-turned-American after struggling through the last miles of his debut marathon. “I thought I’d run 2:15. When I hit 20 miles, I thought ‘Oh man,’ I was thinking of stopping.”
Women’s champion Hirut Guangul, 20, of Ethiopia, said she never considered quitting, despite running with pain in her lower left leg from the beginning of the race. She waited until 19 miles to take control and pull out a five-minute victory in 2:42:03.
“I didn’t feel tired,” Guangul insisted through an interpreter. “At Mile No. 17, I decided to go. The pace was not very hard. I took a check inside myself and then I bolted.”
The major talk heading into Marine Corps weekend was not the elite athletes – there is no prize money – but instead it was about Hurricane Sandy, which dominated the race’s weather forecast as it threatened the Eastern Seaboard. Sandy did not arrive in time to do much more than blow wind in the faces of a record 23,454 finishers and at times at their backs. Temperatures remained in the 50s all day, creating decent dry racing conditions.
WCAP took advantage. Immediately from the boom of the 105mm Howitzer that starts the race, Maiyo and and his teammates – Specialist Robert Cheseret, Specialist Kyle Heath, Capt. Kenneth Foster and Specialist Joseph Chirlee – ran together like a college cross country squad, as if they were back home in Colorado Springs on a training run.
Through the streets of Arlington, the WCAPers ran in front. Over the Key Bridge into Georgetown, together they strode, passing 10 miles in 51:54 and finally dropping Foster.
“By mile 10, I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the pace, run my own race,” said Foster, sporting a 2:19:49 personal best from Cal International Marathon last December. He may have been gone but he was not done.
With Maiyo pushing the pace, Heath and Chirlee fell from the pack in flat, lonely East Potomac Park before the half marathon mark, leaving Maiyo and Cheseret to cross the halfway point in 1:07:44. That’s just over 2:15 pace, which was Maiyo’s hopeful goal.
Cheseret stuck to Maiyo like glue along the National Mall headed toward the Capitol until just before Mile 18, when Cheseret started seeing a growing deficit akin to what Congress sees every day. By Mile 21 on the long 14th Street Bridge back to Virginia, Maiyo was so far ahead that Cheseret could no longer see him. He was visibly struggling and slowing but hanging on.
“After Mile 18, I did not feel terrible,” Maiyo said. “The 23rd mile, I felt terrible. I was thinking ‘Why am I doing this?’ If somebody would have passed me, I’d let them go right by me.” With a lead so large, only a complete meltdown would cost him victory. He recorded the second-fastest winning time in the past 15 years.
Cheseret, the younger brother of legendary two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat, was struggling as well. At 23 miles, Foster had worked himself back into the race and passed Cheseret into second, where he ended in 2:22:39. “The plan going into the race was to get all the Army guys out there,” Foster said. “We wanted to work together.”
Ethiopian Birhanu Tadesse, who also had hoped to run 2:15, passed Cheseret into third, concluding in 2:23:03, followed by Charles Ballew of Washington (2:23:42) and Jhovany Hernandez Juarez of Mexico (2:24:00). Cheseret slugged home in seventh in 2:27:53. 2008 Marine Corps champ Andrew Dumm of Falls Church, Va., was ninth in 2:30:56, his brother Brian a place in front.
Chirlee and Heath paid the ultimate price of the early pace, finishing in 2:33:33 and 2:41:19, respectively.
Mexico’s Ruben Garcia-Gomez, the winner here in 2005 and 2006, came back as a 41-year-old and took the masters competition in 2:32:39.
Guangul, who trains in Silver Spring, was racing her third marathon in 21 days, which could explain why she came into Marine Corps a little beat up. She finished second at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in a personal best 2:34:02 on Sunday, Oct. 7, then placed second again in the Des Moines (Iowa) Marathon in 2:35:49 on Sunday, Oct. 21. She was a last-minute replacement entry for defending champion Tezata Dangersa.
Guangul tracked Erin Richard stride for stride through nearly 19 miles, when Guangul moved ahead and created an impressive lead. Guangul’s training partner Wayinshet Hailu stayed tight with them from the start but began to slightly fade back by the half-marathon, which the elite women covered in 1:20:15. That was exactly where Richard needed to be to run the 2:40 personal best she was envisioning.
Richard – a Rochester Hills, Mich., resident who is a member of the elite Hansons-Brooks Distance Project – who turned out to be one of the most disappointed of runners. After the race, Richard said she should have stayed a little calmer during the first half.
“I gave up the lead at 19 miles and never got it back,” said the 27-year-old Richard, who competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials and ran a personal best 2:44:30 last year at the Chevron Houston Marathon. “It was pretty tough. I was training for a 2:40 and the win and I blew it on both accounts.”
She held second place until a little over a mile to go, when Hailu passed her for the second position on the podium. “She passed me right before 25 miles and she said ‘Come with me’ but I just couldn’t,” Richard said. Perry Shoemaker, a 41-year-old from Vienna, Va., finished fourth behind her in 2:52:25 and was the top female master. She also was top master’s woman at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon last month.
The marathon’s accompanying MCM10K race was shut down in progress when a suspicious item was spotted on the sidelines around the four-mile mark of the 10K course. Once the item was removed, the 10K race, which attracted a sold-out 10,000 participants, returned to racing.
Glenn Collins of Novi, Mich., and Susanna Sullivan of Falls Church topped their respective fields in 46:34 and 47:31. The times were recorded as gun time, or running time, from when the race started in front of the Smithsonian Building on the Mall.
For full race results, visit http://www.marinemarathon.com/
37th Marine Corps Marathon
Washington, D.C., October 28, 2012
1) Augustus Maiyo, USA/CO, 2:20:20
2) Kenneth Foster, USA/CO, 2:22:39
3) Birhanu Tadesse, ETH, 2:23:03
4) Charles Ballew, USA/DC, 2:23:42
5) Jhovany Hernandez Juarez, MEX, 2:24:00
6) Patrick Fernandez, USA/VA, 2:25:29
7) Robert Cheseret, USA/CO, 2:27:52
8) Brian Dumm, USA/CO, 2:29:57
9) Andrew Dumm, USA/VA, 2:30:56
10) Justin Turner, USA/VA, 2:31:08
1) Ruben Garcia Gomez, 41, MEX, 2:32:39
2) Finlay Walls, UK, 43, 2:37:01
3) Conrad Orloff, 42, USA/MD, 2:40:0
1) Hirut Guangul, ETH, 2:42:03
2) Wayinshet Hailu, ETH, 2:47:04
3) Erin Richard, Rochester Hills, MI, 2:48:11
4) Perry Shoemaker, USA/VA, 2:52:25
5) Kara Walters, USA/MD, 2:52:36
6) Elissa Ballas, APO AE, 2:55:50
7) Emma Bohman, USA/AK, 2:58:04
8) Brenda Schrank, USA/VA, 2:59:06
9) Nicole Solana, USA/FL, 2:59:41
10) Sara Day, USA/NC, 2:59:49
1) Perry Shoemaker, 41, USA/VA, 2:52:25
2) Brenda Schrank, USA/VA, 2:59:06
3) Joanne Normand, CAN, 3:08:22
(c) 2012 RunningUSA, all rights reserved, used with permission