New Records Set at United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Series, Washington, DC.

By George Banker

WASHINGTON, DC—On Saturday, March 26, 2022, the streets of the Nation’s Capital hosted the 10th edition of the United Airlines Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series. Over 12,000 runners toured the city.

 “Running an event you used to produce is like going to your childhood home. You remember where everything was placed. There is a story or a memory everywhere you look at every step you take. You always care because it is a part of you,” stated Ted Metellus, Race Director of the TCS NYC Marathon. In the early years of the event, Metellus was instrumental in the race’s execution.

Metellus continued, “While I was running, I thought about my years at Competitor Group producing events all over the world, and how fortunate I was. It was one chapter in my life that allowed me to be where I am today. I also thought about my current team at NYRR and how blessed it is to be able to help and inspire people through running.” 

“The participants were moving and grooving, Rock’n and Rolling. It was a good old fashioned race with conversations, motivation, and movement all around you. What I did really enjoy and missed was the crew support on the course. The people seemed so happy to see healthy activity in their communities. It was like a parade of love. People of all ages and races out showing love to complete strangers. It powered me to the finish,” stated Metellus.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series was established in 1998 and the running course has live bands, cheer teams, and entertaining water stations. Running, music, and community are the focus. The race has beginning runners up to elite athletes.

Washington was the second stop for the newly created Rock ‘n’ Roll Elite. There are thirty-two elite runners vying for a share of the $10,000 prize purse as well as Elite Beat Rankings (EBR). The series will take place in eight North American events.

Saturday, an international field had athletes from the U.S., Canada, Ethiopia, France, and Sweden. There was a rematch of the first and second-place finishers from Las Vegas. Justin Kent (Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada) outlasted John Borjesson (Sweden, living in Boulder, CO) 1:04:37 to 1:06:24.

The race started under ideal conditions from 14th Street and Constitution Avenue. Kent was showing dominance off the line and Borjesson alongside. A third runner joined the leaders, Benjamin Preisner (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada). A pack of six rolled through the first mile in 5:09. Going into the fourth mile (20:05) the pack was down to five. Kent showed no signs of letting up as runners began to fade. Going into the seventh mile (35:17) Kent made his move to open a slight lead over Preisner (35:20).

Kent was on a mission to win first place and maintain his first place standing in the series. In the process, Kent’s winning time of 1:03:57 is a new event record and replaces the previous record of 1:05:02 (2010Mark Fruin). The half-marathon distance dates to 2006 when the race was under a different organizer.

Preisner was able to hold down second place with a time of 1:05:01 which secures second place in the series. Borjesson took third in 1:05:50 and takes second place in the series. William Norris of Charlottesville, VA, was fourth in 1:06:51. Fifth place was taken by Oliver Fox of Washington at 1:07:57.

The turning point was coming up the hill off the intersection of Beach Drive and Cathedral going up to Connecticut Avenue. Kent seized the opportunity.

“The nature of the course just opened things up that way. That hill really separated the athletes that were feeling good at that point and those that were just hanging on. I knew that the next few miles were downhill, so I just wanted to let my legs go a bit,” stated Kent.

“My strategy was to get in a good groove with the front group at the start and work my way into the race. I am training partners with Justin, so I knew that he was super fit going into it. After the hill around Mile Six, the front group split, and I just tried to stick with Justin as long as I could. Then it was just about using the downhills on the back half of the course to bring it home,” stated Preisner.

The lead runners for the females were Jane Bareikis (Crestwood, IL), Emeline Delanis (France, residing in Cary, NC), and Hirut Guangul (Ethiopia, residing in New York). In 2015 Guangul took first place with a time of 1:15:54).

Going into the fourth mile the pack began to separate as Guangul took over the lead as the two others began to fade, but were still in contact. Guangul maintained the pace to take first place with a time of 1:04:02 which was an event record. The previous record of 1:15:36 was set in 2009 by Hirut Mandefro (Ethiopia).

Into the last mile, Delanis made a move to take over second place to win in a time of 1:14:24.  Bareikis was third with a time of 1:14:32.

“Although I had planned to finish the race with a finishing time of 1 hour 12 minutes, I did not achieve it as the pace of the other runners was slower. Hopefully, I will improve my PB at half-marathon in the coming races such as the 2022 Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville and Atlanta half-marathon races that I have planned to run,” stated Guangul.

“The course was hard for me. It was not flat, one hill was very steep, and the wind did not help. But it was nice to run around the town and run by the monuments; the race course is pretty. We were running together the first few miles and then I was third the whole time in the race. I moved to second place in the last mile or two of the race,” stated Delanis.

“My plan going into the race was to compete, to be able to give myself a shot at winning the race. All three of us were close so it was an interesting race. It gives me the motivation to keep training and improve some of my strategies,” stated Bareikis.

Kirsten Lee of North Vancouver was fourth in 1:17:26. The fifth position was captured by Laurel Le Moigne of Springfield, VA with a time of 1:19:38.

Top Women

  1. 1:14:02 Hirut Guangul, 29, New York, NY (ETH)
  2. 1:14:24 Emiline Delanis, 25, Cary, NC (FRA)
  3. 1:14:32 Jane Bareikis, 27, Crestwood, IL
  4. 1:17:26 Kirsten Lee, 28, Vancouver, BC (CAN)
  5. 1:19:38 Laurel LeMoigne, 36, Springfield, VA
  6. 1:20:07 Sarah Bishop, 39, Fairfax, VA
  7. 1:20:42 Jen Moroz, 36, Boston, MA (CAN)
  8. 1:21:31 Allie Klimkiewicz, 25, Williamsburg, VA
  9. 1:21:51 Teal Burrell, 36, Richmond, VA
  10. 1:24:27 Sara Sanchez, 33, Boulder, CO

Top Men

  1. 1:03:57 Justin Kent, 29, Burnaby, BC (CAN)
  2. 1:05:01 Benjamin Preisner, 26, Vancouver, BC (CAN)
  3. 1:05:50 John Borjesson, 30, Boulder, CO (SWE)
  4. 1:06:51 William Norris, 27, Charlottesville, VA
  5. 1:07:57 Oliver Fox, 25, Washington, DC (GBR)
  6. 1:09:35 Arturs Bareikis, 35, Crestwood, IL
  7. 1:09:38 Chase Pizzonia, 36, Long Island City, NY
  8. 1:12:56 Nicholas Deamer, 21, Elkridge, MD
  9. 1:13:03 Campbell Ross, 29, Westminster, MD
  10. 1:14:10 Steven Mance, 37, Washington, DC
Men’s lead pack. Justin Kent #2 of Canada won in 1:03:57. Others include William Norris USA #5, John Borjesson SWE #3, Oliver Fox GBR #8, and Benjamin Preisner CAN #4.
Justin Kent of Canada enjoys the champagne with fellow podium mates Benjamin Preisner (left) also from Canada, and John Borjesson of Sweden.
Rock N Roll Half Marathon podium women all within 30 seconds. Hirut Guangul of Ethiopia (1st, 1:14:02), Emiline Delanis of France (2nd, 1:14:24), and Jane Barkeikis of Crestwood, IL (3rd in 1:14:32).
Ted Metellus, Race Director of the TCS NYC Marathon with George Banker of Runner’s Gazette.
It’s the Rock N Roll Half-Marathon after all.
Sixer fan enjoying the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in DC. Go Sixers.
Rock N Roll Washington, DC Half Marathon

Categories: Race Coverage

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