Martha Nelson had lost contact with the lead runner in Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon.
“I was counting on taking second,” said Nelson.
But as she rounded a turn near the RFK Stadium parking lot finish, a spectator yelled, “The first-place runner is just up ahead!”
Said Nelson, “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I guess I’m going to have to sprint now.’”
Sprint she did and Nelson, a D.C. resident, had enough leg speed to run down Rebecca Bader, winning the marathon in 2 hours, 55 minutes, 36 seconds. Bader placed second in 2:55:53.
Regarding her surprise win, Nelson said, “That was crazy.”
While the men’s marathon wasn’t quite as dramatic, the race featured another come-from-behind winner. Patrick Moulton of Providence, R.I., assumed the lead at about Mile 24 and sped to RFK to win in 2:32:54. Mynor Lopez of Guatemala, who led up until Moulton’s comeback, took second in 2:34:25.
Some 25,000 runners in the 5K, half marathon and marathon braved soggy conditions. The temperature at the start was in the high 40s and the runners dealt with a steady drizzle virtually the entire race. A breeze made the elements even colder.
“I actually like this weather,” said Bader, a professor at the University of Syracuse accustomed to winter training in the snow. “This is the first time all winter I’ve gone on a long run on the pavement without snow. The first time I didn’t have to wear big mittens and a hat.”
The elite half marathon races weren’t as dramatic as the marathon. Carlos Jamieson of Rockville, Md., sped off after a pedestrian 5:30 first mile to win in 1:07:43. Andrew Brodeur of Bethesda, Md., finished second in 1:08:50.
In the women’s half, Hirut Beyene Guangal of Ethiopia won in 1:15:54. Rachel Schneider of Washington, D.C., took second in 1:15:54.
For Bader, it was the second year in a row she finished runner-up in the women’s marathon.
“I’m crabby,” joked Bader, who said she had to stop at about Mile 23, claiming a lead cyclist led her on a wrong turn.
“It’s been raging,” she said of her emotions. “One of the men I was running with said I handled it a lot better than he would have.”
Nelson, the women’s marathon winner, took pride in winning a race on her hometown soil. She lives in D.C., works at the National Institute for Health in D.C., and after pondering moving has decided to stay in D.C.
“The win,” she said, “it’s actually very meaningful.”
Moulton owns a 2:15 personal best in the marathon and raced at the 2008 Olympic Trials where he finished 28th. Sixteen miles into the marathon he figured Lopez’s lead was too big.
“At that point,” Moulton said, “I was ready to settle for second.”
But by mile 22, Lopez was in Moulton’s sight.
“You could tell he was hurting,” Moulton said.
By Mile 24, they were side by side and Moulton executed his move.
“I wanted to test him, see how he was feeling” Moulton said. “He died, big time.”
Jamieson, the men’s half marathon winner, took it easy the first mile.
“That might have been the only time I was in front of him,” joked Brodeur.
Jamieson looked at the clock after the first mile, saw a soft 5:30 reading and thought, “I knew I could pick it up a bit.”
He picked it up more than a bit, winning the race by 67 seconds.
“He was a little too fast for us today,” said Brodeur. “Actually, more than a little too fast.”