01 April 2013, 7am
Rock ’n’ Roll USA Marathon & CareFirst Rock ’n’ Roll USA 1/2 Marathon
Sat 16 March 2013
Among them were 26 children from the Mark Twain Middle School, in nearby Alexandria, Virginia who participated in the first and final mile of the race in tribute to the 20 infant schoolchildren and six teachers who died in the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut three months previously. They were inspired by their teacher, Eric Henderson, who ran the half marathon.
This year’s race featured a new start within the shadow of the Washington Monument on Constitution Avenue, close to the White House. Both Marathon and half Marathon follow the same clockwise loop through the northern part of town until 20km, when the Half Marathon continues to the finish line just outside Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy (RFK) Stadium. Marathon runners take another loop, this time counter-clockwise to the south of Washington’s famous monumental axis, the National Mall, after passing by the Capitol building at 23km. They end up back at RFK stadium, about 5km east of where they started. As a warm-up to the Saturday race, 1000 junior runners participated in the ING KiDS ROCK DC event on Thursday evening, a non-competitive, non-timed, one-mile fun run for children.
The Rock and Roll events encourage live bands along the course, with cheerleader groups, and there were 25 themed water stations along the scenic course. A headliner concert at RFK Stadium took off after the finish on Saturday afternoon with entertainment from Cowboy Mouth and School of Rock.
On a crisp, cloudy day, a sold-out field of 30,000 runners took to the streets in the second event under the Rock and Roll banner, although six editions of the race had been held before then known as the “National Marathon”.
Peter Lawrence, a 41-year old from Houston, won in dramatic fashion, overtaking front runner Jordan McDougal at 34km after McDougal fell ill and dropped out. Lawrence had a winning margin of two minutes over Michael Wardian, a 38-year-old local (from Arlington, Virginia), who had won the race on six previous occasions.
A jubilant Lawrence jumped into the air as he broke the finish line tape. “I’ve never won a marathon before. This is unbelievable. And to have it happen in the Capital of the USA makes it that much more special.”
McDougal, a member of the USA junior team that competed at the 2006 World Cross-Country Championships, led from the start and opened up a gap of one minute at 15km, which he passed in 51:56. But just before 30km his race took an abrupt turn for the worse, as he was hit by an upset stomach. What had looked like a cruise to easy victory ground to a screeching halt. As McDougal struggled, Lawrence and Wardian closed down on him. They caught their first glimpse of his distress at the Nationals Park turnaround point just after 30km. Although McDougal bravely slugged through a couple of kilometres at sub-3:30 pace, he was clutching his stomach with his hand. Lawrence, who pulled away from local six-time winner Michael Wardian after 34km, had no trouble reading the leader’s distress signals.
Wardian is rebuilding fitness after an injury-plagued 2012: “I was hoping to sneak in for a win, but Peter just pulled away from me. It was only my fourth run of the year of more than 25km and I just didn’t have the fitness, but I’m not disappointed with second place” said Wardian. “This is my hometown race. It was nice be out there slapping high fives with people; it’s a bit like “Cheers”, where everyone knows your name. It’s always fun to run on the streets of DC and the new Rock ‘n’ Roll identity brought a great new flavour to the event.”
In the women’s race, 29-year-old Ashley Olsen of Philadelphia was unaware of her chances until she passed through the half marathon and realised there was only one other woman ahead of her. She then quickly caught Justine Morrison, a 32-year old local runner and the two of them ran together until Olsen made her move.
“We stayed close and talked to each other”, said Olsen. “Of course you want to win but everyone out there doing a Marathon has to be supportive of each other. I hit the wall around 37km and then it was just running on guts to finish. It felt amazing to win.”
In the half marathon local runner Christopher Mills took the fight to Tumicha Horsa. Horsa gained the advantage after an uphill climb around 12km, and although Mills fought hard to come back Horsa went on to win by 100m.
Hilary Dionne ran a personal best to win the half marathon – an encouragement for her plans to run the Boston Marathon on 16 April. “We had a lot of snow in Boston this winter, but that was my best Half Marathon time by 40 seconds – so I’m confident about how the training has gone and feel good heading towards Boston.”
Next year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon will take place on Saturday, 15 March 2014. For more information visit Competitor.com or follow @RunRocknRoll on Twitter.