Monday, December 26, 2011

Bob Dolphin - Marine Corps Marathon Race Report -2011

Bob Dolphin            (c)Denny Brooks /
For the twelfth consecutive year Lenore and I looked forward to the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM).  We arrived in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, October 26th, for the 36th running of The People’s Marathon on Sunday, October 30, 2011.

On Friday, two days before the marathon, we drove from the Red Roof Inn at Alexandria, Virginia, to the Armory in Washington, DC, to attend the Health and Fitness Expo where I picked up my runner’s packet and T-shirt.  The Expo filled the Armory, so there were many booths to visit.

From this outlying area we relocated to the Hyatt Regency Hotel near our nation’s capitol in downtown Washington, DC, for the MCM Running Club’s inaugural Kickoff Mixer.  We enjoyed the opportunity to meet fellow club members and to socialize.  I was presented an embroidered, commemorative pillow with symbols that portrayed the Marine Corps Marathon and Washington, DC, landmarks.

Later, we boarded a shuttle bus and were transported a few miles to the Washington Post Building for the MCM Hall of Fame Dinner.  This year Lieutenant General Richard Carey, USMC, and George Banker were inducted as new members.

General Carey is credited with helping save the fledgling MCM years ago when there was a possibility the marathon might have to be discontinued.  He made some proposals that were adopted, and the marathon has flourished ever since.

Our friend George Banker, retired technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, is the long-time historian and statistician of the MCM.  This is chronicled in his book, The Marine Corps Marathon:  A Running Tradition.   George has now completed 28 Marine Corps Marathons and has a total of 85 marathons in his running career.

Saturday evening found us back at the Hyatt Regency for the Carbo Dining-In for a good meal and super entertainment.  The women’s trio called “United We Sing” has performed at more than 500 USO shows for the Armed Forces overseas and they were there to entertain.  They now perform patriotic shows for many organizations and functions.

Robert Swan, an adventurer and endurance athlete was the featured speaker.  He spoke and showed slides of his unassisted treks towing a sled across the Arctic and Antarctic Poles….up to 900 miles total.  He publicizes the global warming effect to the Poles and wants to help preserve the Antarctic as the last great wilderness on earth.  He ran a 4:43:37 marathon the next day.

At this dinner there was a large contingent of Wounded Warriors who had lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The majority of these active or former servicemen were participants in the wheelchair division of the next day’s race.

This group was typified by Jimmy King, 32, competing in his 7th MCM since losing his left leg in Iraq and Carlos Evans, 32, who lost both legs and his left hand and would be doing his first marathon the next day.  They’re part of a team supported by the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans and joined about 130 racers on wheelchairs and hand cycles.  Although they had just met, Jimmy accompanied and encouraged Carlos throughout their 3:41:00 arduous race.

At Packet pickup Lenore and I had met and talked with Meritz Melendez, a discharged Marine who was wounded in the back in the Middle East.  She was excited about her upcoming first marathon.

As he had done in the last few years, Don “The Rev” Kienz of Exton, Pennsylvania, was our “chauffeur” to Saturday night’s Carbo Dining-In and again on race morning when we were joined by his wife Pam and Diana “Slug” Robinson and her husband Steve of Bellingham, WA.

Of the previous eleven MCM’s that I had run, the weather was warm enough for me to wear a pair of shorts and a singlet.  This year the 36th MCM started out with a temperature of 33 degrees Fahrenheit and ended with a high of 55 degrees.  The sky was clear, so we warmed up later in the day as we welcomed the sunshine.

These weather conditions favored some elite runners and hampered others.  Charles (Chad) Ware, 27, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army from Wheeling, Illinois, had a 1:09:36 time at the halfway mark near Haines Point in East Potomac Park, but he lagged 50 meters behind the leaders.  Near the U.S. Capitol he closed the gap, and in the 19th mile he pulled away from leaders, Emiru Makonnen, 30, and Ilanso Temesgen, 25…..both of Ethiopia and Ellicott City, Maryland.  They finished seventh with a 2:30:51 and 10th in 2:32:59 respectively.

Lt. Ware continued on to run a negative split and a personal record of 2:19:16.  He was trying to qualify for the next Olympics Games and only missed it by sixteen seconds. His winning time was the fastest in fourteen years.

Michael Wardian, 37, of Arlington, Virginia, moved up to finish second with a time of 2:23:46.  In third place was Patrick Fernandez, 24, of Alexandria, Virginia with a time of 2:26:27.

The women’s race was tight as Tezata Dengersa, 30, a Turkish citizen who was born in Ethiopia and trained at Ellicott, Maryland, dueled with teammate Getachew Shiferaw, 31.  After Getachew developed a sciatica problem, Tezata went on to win the race with a 2:45:28.  Running her second marathon, Emily Shertzer, 31, of Jonestown, Pennsylvania, was close behind her and finished with a 2:45:55.  Runing injured, Getachew finished third with a time of 2:47:30.

There had been approximately 22,000 starters that morning.  Of the 20,895 who finished there were some interesting tales to be told.  Drew Carey, 53, comedian, host of “The Price Is Right” show and former Marine, came from Los Angeles to run his first marathon in 4:37:30.  Because of the quad leg cramps that plagued him, he described the day as a “nightmare.”  He was happy that he finished, even though he didn’t meet his goal to run a sub-four hour race.

The age difference between the oldest and youngest runners was 76 years!  The youngest marathon finisher was 14 year old Cara Golias of Fairfax, Virginia, who ran a 6:08:48.  She was accompanied by her father Michael, 48, and her sister Kelsey, 15.  The oldest finisher was 90 year old Jonathan Mendes from New York City.  Colonel Mendes, USMC, was a decorated bomber pilot in World War II and the Korean War.  His finishing time was 7:02:30.

Before the start of the race I enjoyed watching three parachutists land on the grass near the starting line.  (That’s a clever way to get a good starting position!)  After the gun boomed at 8:00 a.m. I started running slowly as I warmed up.  My plan was to run flat surfaces and downhills while walking steep hills such as those in Rosslyn, VA, and Georgetown in D.C..

I enjoyed seeing the national monuments, buildings and parks.  It’s a treat to cross the Potomac River and tour Crystal City, VA, in the final miles on the way back to the finish line near the Marine Corps Memorial.  I crossed the finish mat with a time of 7:06:12, 2nd in the 80+M Division and 20,874th of 20,895 overall.  I was greeted by friends, given an outstanding finishers medal and then joined Lenore and the others in the “swampy” VIP area.

This year the weekend storm had given additional challenges to Race Director Rick Nealis, his staff, the many civilian and Marine volunteers, but they came through with another great and well-organized marathon.

It had been a good day, and I was happy that I “redeemed myself” by finishing my 12th MCM one hour faster than #11 (free of leg cramps this year).  This was marathon #495, so I’m still on target to do #500 on March 31, 2012, at our Yakima River Canyon Marathon.

Written by Bob Dolphin
Edited, Typed and Distributed by Lenore Dolphin

PARTIAL RESULTS – Marine Corps Marathon, October 30, 2011

2:19:16  Charles Ware, 27, Wheeling, IL, OVERALL WINNER, 1st in Division
2:23:46  Michael Wardian, 37, Arlington, VA, SECOND OVERALL, 1st 
2:26:37  Patrick Fernandez, 29, Alexandria, VA, THIRD OVERALL, 1st
2:45:28  Tezata Dengersa, 30, Ellicott City, MD, FIRST WOMAN OVERALL, 1st 
2:45:55  Emily Shertzer, 31, Joneswotn, PA, SECOND WOMAN OVERALL, 2nd
2:47:30  Getachew Shiferaw, 27, Ellicott City, MD, THIRD WOMAN OVERALL, 1st
4:15:12  Diana “Slug” Robinson, 45, Bellingham, WA
4:22:18 Kirsten Elling, 49, Schenectady, NY
4:37:11 Drew Carey, 53, Los Angeles, CA
4:43:37  Robert Swan, 55, Btethesda, MD
5:19:18  George Banker, 61, Oxoa Hill, MD
5:35:33  Roger Macmillan, 74, Ft. Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada
5:59:39  Don “The Rev” Kienz, 56, Exton, PA
6:08:18  Cara Golias, 14, Fairfax, VA
6:14:47  Bob Elling, 57, Schenectady, NY
7:02:30  Jonathan Mendes, 90, New York, NY, 1st  
7:06:12  Bob Dolphin, 82, Renton/Yakima, WA, 2nd

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