BY GEORGE BANKER
BETHESDA, MD--You don't let a good thing go after 21 years. Right before things hit bottom, the Bethesda Chase 20K underwent a change. The Montgomery County Department of Recreation teamed with the Rock Bottom Brewery and Restaurant of Bethesda to sponsor the "New" Bethesda Chase 10K (Sunday, March 7, 1999) to usher in the 22nd running.
The race started and finished at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. All of the hills were not removed--a half-mile segment on Cedar Lane going from Wisconsin to Old Georgetown Road (after mile three). It was a level playing field as all of the runners had to battle a fierce wind and cold temperatures which was going to produce slow times. The race had about seven hundred registered runners.
"I thought it was great. We designed the course to make it a friendly race for the average runner. I think everything worked the way we wanted it to. All of the people in downtown Bethesda supported the race," said Edward Wrothe of the Montgomery County Recreation Department. Wrothe was one of the designers of the old course which was famous for its tremendous hills.
The old course was so tough the records for the Masters were set in 1978 and never lowered. The men's was set at 1:05:14 by Ben Wilson. Marge Rosasco set the women's Masters record with 1:16:57. Rosasco turned around in 1979 and won the women's division overall with 1:15:53. The men's open record was set in 1981 by Malcom East with 1:01:05. Patricia McGovern set the women's record in 1985 with 1:12:42.
Leaving the restaurant, a tight pack of four runners were led by Philipe Kozub of Bethesda and Jeffrey McCarthy of Washington, going into the first turn onto Woodmont Avenue where the runners went south to turn at Bradley to reach Wisconsin Avenue.
There was a two-mile stretch where the wind was hindering performance. Russell Crandall of Washington was leading the pack. Going into the second mile, the time was 10:36. Crandall was sailing along doing all of the work. Brian Ferrari of Hagerstown was holding the number-two spot. Tucked in third was McCarthy followed by Hausenfluck. They were all fighting a head wind. The trailing pack had thinned out and was out of the hunt. It was a four-person race with the hill yet to come.
The lead female from the start was Altieri with Anita Freres of Rockville less than a minute back. Altieri was running smooth into the wind and not giving up any ground as Freres attempted to close in. Closely behind Freres was Desiree Ficker of Potomac sitting and waiting.
The winning Masters (age 40 and over) was George Buckheit of Fairfax with 34:47, in fifth place. Jim Whitnah of Chevy Chase was second with 35:40, in 13th place.
"I'm real pleased, it's not a financial thing with us. If we can get a break in the weather. We want to help mold the community. Our goal is to help other businesses. The Bethesda Partnership has been fantastic," said Bruce Earle of the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery.
"We are glad that the Department of Recreation and Rock Bottom were able to bring the event off. It helps a good cause. I am trying to get back into it. It was a lot of fun, cold and windy. On Cedar it was tough and I was pushing myself. I wanted to finish in less than an hour but I did a 1:01:40," said Catherine Chapman of the Bethesda Urban Partnership.
The oldest competitor was Alvin Guttag, age 80, of Gaithersburg who finished with 1:14:19. Guttag had ran in the first 20K in 1978. The youngest was Emily Buzzell, age 13, of Middletown with 42:03 (6th place).
The Cumberland Valley Athletic Club sailed by in the team competition to defend their 1998 title. The Montgomery County Road Runners took first place in the Open Women's and the Masters Men. Danish Delight was first in the Masters Women. Team Landon was first in the Corporate division.
After mile three, at Cedar Lane, the runners took a left turn and started to climb. The runners were being robbed of their speed. At times the wind was hitting at will from all sides.
Crandall, after losing the lead, attempted to hold on momentarily. Hausenfluck was at home with the hill. In contact with the leaders was Ferrari trying to maintain. Hausenfluck put it out of reach and lowered the hammer once onto George Road with a mile remaining.
Hausenfluck set the new event record for the 10K with 32:36. Crandall held in the closing mile to claim second with 32:40. Ferrari had fallen back to third with 32:52.
"I ran twenty miles yesterday to take the pressure off. I felt good the last two miles. Once I got the distance I worked the hill, and the hills happen to be my favorite. I knew they had to have a hill somewhere," said Hausenfluck.
"When I caught him [Crandall] I felt pretty comfortable. He ran tough and I got hung out there in no man's land. After two miles I had dropped off. It's so much easier to say the course was easy after winning. There was some confusion in the turns with cars coming out. The last 5K was faster," added Hausenfluck.
"I went out front, someone had to be there. It was not fun and I was able to keep going. That guy, [Hausenfluck] he came from out of nowhere and put it in a kick," said second-place, Crandall.
Bea Marie Altieri held the lead from the start and won wire to wire with a time of 37:48, the mark to beat next year. Anita Freres of Rockville was holding the number two spot but was unable to pull Altieri back and finished with 38:28.
Taking the number-three place was Desiree Ficker of Potomac with 40:25 as Philippa Wellborn of Potomac tried to upset Ficker but settled for fourth with 40:27.
1. Merrill Hausenfluck 32:36
1. Nathan Wyeth 46:06
1. Matthew Cooke 40:12
1. Brian Ferrari 32:52
1. George Buckheit 34:47
1. John Kusek 39:28
1. Henry Danver 40:46
1. Warren Prunella 42:14
1. Chan Robbins 42:28
1. Thomas Momiyama 47:48
1. Paul Lackey 52:40
1. Bea Marie Altieri 37:48
14 and Under
1. Emily Buzzell 42:03
1. Yumi Cosbert 45:47
1. Philippa Wellborn 40:27
1. Melanie Levin 45:45
1. Elise Heumann 49:02
1. Mary Kuta 52:45
1. Priscila Prunella 49:58
1. Tami Graf 54:38