In the last big fall weekend of racing, anything can happen. The air is cold, the days are short, the trees are barren. Most have hung up their flats for the season. It requires diligence and focus to make it this late into the season, and it always seems like the pressure it on just a bit more. Have a bad day and there aren't many opportunities for "make-up races" in the next few weeks. It's now, or next season. The year's been long, and fatigue has set in.
Philly Marathon weekend marks the end of the big city marathons for the year, and while Philly often produces fast races, this isn't an event our group has traditionally focused on. This year was different, as we had about a dozen competing across the 3 events (8k, Half, Marathon).
The Rothman Institute 8k kicked off the weekend on Saturday, and conditions were very conducive to fast times. Course Records were set for the men and women, and Tim Burns showed his improvement as he dropped a 27:10 to finish 42nd. Tim is rounding into good form for USATF Club XC in a few weeks. Ed Aramayo as we all know has been pretty absent this year, and has not done much running. Somehow it didn't affect him too much, because he ran a 27:46! Ashley Campbell came all the way down from her new home in Boston to run, and finished 23rd among the women in 31:52.
There were a couple of other races on Saturday, notably Lee DiPietro's win in Delray Beach (FL) at their Turkey Trot (20:04), and Collin Anderson's 2nd place at the Riverton Holiday Heroes 5k. The loss snapped Collin's win streak at the distance dating back to 2009.
Out in Boonsboro, Bob Harvey toed the line at the JFK 50 Miler. In what was perhaps the race's most competitive year ever, where Max King and Ellie Greenwood (likely Ultra Runners of the Year) took serious time out of the Course Records, Harvey put on a display of just how much work he's done. He took 64th in 7:35:38, which is majorly impressive.
Ben Ingram has tackled some of the midwest's biggest events this year, and this weekend with Kendra out of town he headed up to Des Moines, Iowa, for the largest cross country race in the US - the Living History Farm XC. This 7 mile run traverses hill and dale, and features a number of significant stream crossings. Ben took 28th in 43:38.
Then it was Sunday, and time for the big one: Philly Marathon and Half.
In the half, Conrad Laskowski and Dustin Meeker found themselves in a good group early, and came through 6 miles flanked by an army of fast runners. As they approached the finish it was Conrad who led the way, gritting his teeth but looking fluid and strong as he crossed the line in 1:09:10, good for 18th. Dustin followed shortly after and it was clear he had dug deep to be there, but he also cracked the 70 minute barrier, finishing in 1:09:57. These now rank as the 3rd and 4th fastest individual times in our group (yes, I realize there are some of you who have run faster but you did it before your time here). Steve Febish has turned himself into a beast recently. It's hard to believe he's the same guy who ran 59:23 at Club Challenge earlier this year. Steve has been hanging onto Dusty and Nate on their workouts and it paid off with a 1:12:51! And of course our friend Andy Sovonick ran a PR as well, crossing the line after an evenly paced 1:14:44.
The marathon was a slightly different story. Alex Battaglino has covered an unfathomable amount of miles in the past couple of months and all signs indicated he was fit and ready to go big. He ran 2:29 last year at Philly, and was supposed to run NYC this year. When that fell through, it was onto Philly, and he set himself up for a good race, coming through the half in about 1:12. He was on his own, but he looked good. Well that back half can be so cruel, and he lost a bit of time, coming across in 2:31:08. A miss by Alex's standards, but a time we are proud to say is our best of the year! Nate had a similar day. Solid first half (1:13) but started going into the Ryan Zone around mile 15. Nate held on much better than I normally do, and finished at 2:35:08. That makes two solid marathons for the Brig this year.
Our men may have suffered, but our ladies dominated. Jackie Truncellito (now Jackie Range) TCOB'd as she ran an unofficial 2:56:53, which is a 90+ second PR from her old Philly time. Jackie's chip malfunctioned and stopped showing splits after 30k, so we're currently trying to work it out. She ran it though, we saw it! I was surprised to see Kristen Till's name in the results for a MARATHON as we know her to be a 1500m runner, but she ran 3:19:42, and the run of the day went to Bryn Burkholder. Bryn was looking to run under 3:27 and set it up perfectly. She was just behind the 3:25 group at the half but then she said you know what, this is nothing, and took off. She negative split her way to a 3:21:43, which was good enough to earn her a Purple Drink Athlete of the Week!
Regardless of the outcome, great job to all. It was awesome to have such terrific support from Brennan, Ed, Tim, Ashley, Diane, Franco, Emily Brigham, and OJ. Philly put on an amazing race and welcomed the displaced NYC marathoners with open arms.
We're back in action this week with the Gobble Cobble on Thursday morning, 8am from the MAC in Harbor East. If you can help out please let me know!
And of course it's the end of the day now, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jim Adams!