Ardanuy, Makarevich Conquer Washington Birthday Marathon Hills

by George Banker

GREENBELT, MD—On Sunday, February 16, 2020 the DC Road Runners Club hosted the 59th Washington’s Birthday Marathon (WBM) and the 32nd three-person relay. (The first race was held February 22, 1962 in Greenbelt, Maryland on the grounds of US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agriculture Research Center.)  The USATF-certified course has 18 hills and three loops with the excitement of a hill at Mile 25. The race has been a prime trainer for the Boston Marathon. In the history of the race it has been canceled four times (2003, 2010, 2014, and 2015) due to severe weather conditions.

The three-person relay team has loops which run counterclockwise with a distance of 9.7 miles, 7.3 miles, and  9.2 miles. Both events start at 10 a.m., and the common exchange point for the relay is the USDA Visitor Center.  There are course marshals at key intersections and fluid replenishment stations along the course. The first loop is the confidence builder. The runners who respect the hills will finish strong. The course is ideal for training as it will point out your weak points and your ability to change your movements between flat and hill running. 

The event records for the marathon:
1978      Bobby Doyle                                     28           2:22:14  Baltimore, MD
1988      Rose Malloy                                      39           2:53:29  Annapolis, MD
1969      John McDonogh                               45           2:31:58  New York, NY
1993      Claudia Ciavarella                           43           3:13:17  Arlington, VA    

The field this year included the 2019 runners-up Jeremy Ardanuy (2:41:43) and Elena Makarevich (3:19:25). Ardanuy also took first place (2:27:17 PR) at the 2019 Baltimore Running Festival and Makarevich was second female there in a time of 3:03:00.

In addition, Yoshiko Jo of Swarthmore, PA was running. In 2008 Jo was second overall and first master (3:37:30). In 2011, she was the third master with 3:45:23, in 2012 third overall and first master in a time of 3:40:39, and in 2013 Jo was second master with a time of 3:54:22.

The marathoners and relay runners started simultaneously on a quarter-mile uphill.

Men’s Marathon

Going through the 5.8 miles in the marathon, Justin Scheid of Succasunna, New Jersey held a slight lead (31:27) over Ardanuy (31:28). Trailing was Philip Brown of Washington in 36:00. The two began to match strides going through Mile 9.7 with Ardanuy making up ground (52:17), with Scheid in contact (52:48). Going into the half-marathon point Ardanuy was leading with 1:11:21 and Scheid was trying to cover the move and crossed in 1:11:47. It was turning into a two-person race and who would be the stronger runner on the hills. But into Mile 17 Ardanuy was not yielding, with a 1:33:39 to Scheid with 1:33:58. Going into Mile 20.4, Ardanuy crossed in 1:53:07 followed by Scheid with 1:53:40.

The final stage was being set as the last couple of miles were going to decide the winner. There was a slight gap developing going into Mile 24.3 with a time of 2:15:27 to 2:16:38. The challenge was in the last mile which was uphill to the finish line. The 59th title was captured by Ardanuy with 2:26:53.  Scheid was runner-up with 2:28:29.

3rd place 1st master was captured by Yasushi Sugita of Bethesda with a time of 2:45:18. Philip Brown of Washington was 4th in a time of 2:47:48.

Jeremy Ardanuy, 1st place 2020 with a time of 2:26:53. (Photo by Kirk Copple)

Jeremy Ardanuy (1st place): “I took the pace out fast, after another runner was staying behind me for the first six miles. I put in a surge for five minutes to create a 30-second gap, and then I just focused on keeping a consistent effort to hold that lead through the race. Last year I was just using the race as a long run; this year I was going for the win and the prize money.

“Going up the last hill on Mile 25 hurt enough to make me want to slow down. The other runner was competitive and stuck with me for the first six miles. After that he was never too far back, so I had to keep the pace honest.”

Justin Scheid (2nd place): “I run for Shore Athletic Club, a New Jersey based running club. A February marathon was interesting because I could qualify for the 2021 Boston Marathon yet still target fast times in shorter distances (5K and 10Ks) this summer. I searched the internet for February marathons and came across WBM; it checked all the boxes—official Boston qualifier and short driving distance from NJ. Maybe Greenbelt is not as exotic as Phoenix or Miami, but my wife and I welcomed our first child, Caden Peter Scheid, on Veteran’s Day and a local marathon was ideal. I learned that the race had been canceled or shortened in certain years, so my biggest fear was an unexpected snowstorm.” 

Justin Scheid, 2nd place 2020 with a time of 2:28:29. (Photo by Kirk Copple)

Steven Peterson (20th place, 3:17:33 1st 50-54): “I was looking to run a marathon in February as I did not qualify for Boston this year and I have learned that I run significantly better in cooler temperatures than in heat and humidity. In addition, I was not happy with my results at the Marine Corps Marathon, so I wanted to use the fitness that I had built up to race another marathon.  I’m a member of the DC Road Runners Club, and the George Washington Marathon is a race we put on. For me, it is inexpensive and not a far drive from my house in Fairfax Station, VA.  I decided to run it for the first time and had heard it was hilly.

“I started running in 8th grade in Whitefish, Montana when my math teacher created a running club.   If you logged 50 miles you would get a yellow T-shirt with a “road runner” on the front.  I have been running ever since. I have never been a great runner, but I grind away and as the fast runners stop racing, I finish higher.  The NYC marathon in 2006 stands out as my best performance as I ran 2:41:25 as a 40-year-old which was not too far off my PR of 2:40:48.  It was one of those days that felt so easy.”

Women’s Marathon

The lead female going out was Elena Makarevich going through Mile 5.8 in 39:57. Erica Howes was trailing in second with 44:17, with Mary Edgmon of Fort Benning, GA in 45:30. Crossing in fourth was Courtney Tse of the US Naval Academy Marathon Team with a time of 46:17. Going into Mile 9.7 Makarevich crossed in 1:07:48 followed by Howes in 1:14:30. Edgmon crossed in 1:16:02 followed by Tse in 1:17:11. Into the half-marathon mark Makarevich crossed in 1:33:11 and Howes followed in 1:40:30. Edgmon was holding fast in 1:43:09 with Tse in 1:44:00.

At the 20.4-mile point Makarevich had sole control with a time of 2:29:19. Second was being maintained by Howes in 2:34:04.  Edgmon was not slowing as she was able to maintain pace and crossed with 2:41:43. Tse was holding fifth place with 2:43:40.

By Mile 24.3 the finishing order was in place. Makarevich took the win in 3:15:58. Makarevich was also the first master and her time was 4th fastest master winning time. Howes held fast for runner-up with a time of 3:20:40, followed by Edgmon in 3:26:15. Tse captured 4th place in 3:35:38.

5th place, and 2nd master, went to Yoshiko Jo with a time of 3:39:17.

Yoshiko Jo, 5th place and 2nd master 2020 with a time of 3:39:17. Jo teaches Japanese at Swarthmore College. (Photo by Kirk Copple)
Elena Makarevich 1st place 2020, with a time of 3:15:58. (Photo by Kirk Copple)

Elena Makarevich (1st place): “That was a tough marathon because I had another one a week earlier. I tried not running too slowly— that was my only strategy. My plan was not slowing down after the first 13 miles and the most difficult part was the third  lap. I felt there was a competition and I kept looking around for other runners. The track itself was quite challenging–three laps, elevations, curves, some parts next to the roads, etc. To me it is always hard to keep motivated throughout that kind of race.”

Erica Howes (2nd place): “My first two marathons were big city marathons, and I wanted something small and community based this time. My family is in the DC area, so it was easy to travel up here for the race from Blacksburg, VA. I was feeling ready to train for something big after this past fall and didn’t want to wait for a spring marathon, so the timing worked out nicely as well. As a PhD student, the price was also attractive!

“I ran cross-country and track at W.T. Woodson HS in Fairfax. Over the years, the running community has been the thing that keeps me involved in the sport. Finding a supportive running group in Blacksburg to do runs and workouts with has been really motivating as I have gotten back into more competitive running over the past year.”

Erica Howes, 2nd place 2020 with a time of 3:20:40. Kirk Copple photo)

Mary Edgmon (3rd place): “I’ve been a runner since I was a child, running my first marathon at age 16, but I did not make running a marathon in all 50 states a goal until I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost two years ago. I was crushed with the diagnosis, but I decided that I would fight back and make good come from this. Through my running, I hope to give hope to others who are diagnosed with this disease, or even others who don’t have MS, but just need a little motivation to get more active.” 

Mary Edgmon, 3rd place 2020 with a time of 3:28:16. (Photo by Kirk Copple)

 32nd Relay

The top open male team was American Hispanic with a time of 2:42:46. The record was set in 1998 by the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club (2:26:50). The top open women’s team was Creative Running Team with a time of 3:35:47. The record was set in 1989 by the Washington Running Club Women Warriors (2:48:38).

The top coed team was 3 Best Friends That Anyone Could Have with a time of 2:31:52. The record was set in 1991 by Washington Running Club (2:36:04). The top master women’s team was Triple Trouble with a time of 3:42:34. The record was set in 2002 by The Speedy Myliers (3:11:08).

Top Men

  1. 2:26:53 Jeremy Ardanuy MD
  2. 2:28:29 Justin Scheid NJ
  3. 2:45:18 Yasushi Sugita (49) MD
  4. 2:47:48 Phillip Brown DC
  5. 2:47:49 Andrew Spangenberg MD
  6. 2:56:51 Sam Kobrin DC
  7. 2:57:44 Andrew Miller MD
  8. 2:57:53 Bobby Huang MD
  9. 2:59:27 Douglas Gologorsky NJ
  10. 3:02:31 Satoshi Nakano (46) MD

Top Women

  1. 3:15:58 Elena Makarevich (41) MD
  2. 3:20:40 Erica Howes VA
  3. 3:28:16 Mary Edgmon GA
  4. 3:35:38 Courtney Tse MD
  5. 3:39:17 Yoshiko Jo (55) PA
  6. 3:42:28 Audrey Hogenkamp VA
  7. 3:43:19 Yuko Takakusaki (52) VA
  8. 3:44:34 Severija Narkute LTU
  9. 3:48:39 Marieke Van Haaren OH
  10. 3:48:54 Heysang Park (45) NY
Runner’s Gazette writer George Banker after conquering one of the many hills in the Washington’s Birthday Marathon. This was George’s 117th marathon and his 10th time running Washington’s Birthday Marathon. Congratulations George! (Photo by Kirk Copple)

Categories: Race Coverage

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