An amicable race within a race produced triumph and personal bests for three Bel Air runners in the New York City Marathon Sunday.
Jeff Burger, Kevin Hennessey and Darren Thompson planned and prepared months in advance to break the three-hour mark together on the 26.2-mile course through the five boroughs of New York City. They logged hundreds of miles together in training for the race.
They executed their race plan with remarkable precision – running together, pacing each other at 6:40 to 6:50 per mile through the crush of more than 50,000 runners on the course. To break the three-hour mark meant cutting from 2 to 16 minutes off their previous bests.
For the start, the huge field was divided into waves, start villages and corrals. Burger and Hennessey started over the lower level of the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. Thompson began over the upper level. Their parallel routes merged after 8 miles and one mile later, the three were together, exactly on pace.
When they crossed a bridge into Manhattan with 10 miles to go, they were awestruck by the cheering of the huge crowd, part of an estimated 2 million spectators lining the course. Burger described it as "the loudest crowd cheer I've ever heard." At that point, he began to believe they would finish in less than 3 hours.
The three matched strides the rest of the way, quickening their pace in the final two miles to finish together in 2:58:30. Among the 368 Maryland finishers, the three were the fourth, fifth and seventh fastest. All three qualified for the Boston Marathon, their next big challenge in 2015.
They celebrated their triple triumph with champagne. Then they found a sports bar and watched the telecast of the Baltimore Ravens' game.
Young AFCEAn Aberdeen 5K
Alex Loper had no company in setting the pace for the Young AFCEAn Aberdeen 5K at Ripken Stadium Saturday. The 26-year-old from Bel Air built a lead of 2 minutes on the field and finished alone in 16:35. Dennis Coleman of Gaithersburg, the fastest 55-year-old in Maryland, finished second in 18:39.
Kirk Ingold of Bel Air, 19:06; Jason Lewis of Conowingo, 20:25; and Zachary Runge of Abingdon, 21:26, finished in the top five.
Elizabeth Bertholdt of Abingdon won the women's race in 22:01, finishing 25 seconds ahead of Brenda Walker of Havre de Grace. In the top five were Angelica Goodwin of Bel Air, 22:54; Rhonda Utz of Forest Hill, 23:20; and Christine Garboski, 24:47.
KidsPeace Trick-or-Trot 5K
Rob Bartholomew of Aberdeen led the 40-49 age group in the KidsPeace Trick-or-Trot 5K in Baltimore Saturday.
He ran 19:55 to place 11th among 440 runners and win the age group by 21 seconds over runner-up Mark Viviano, WJZ-TV sports director. Viviano's wife of just over a month, Megan, an executive producer at WJZ, won the women's race in 20:09. Jason Farber of Baltimore was the men's winner in 17:03.
Cathleen Bartholomew of Aberdeen finished third in the women's 50-59 age group in 24:37. Mike Trott of Joppa took third place in men's 60-69 in 24:16.
Collegiate cross country
Elizabeth Tauber earned All-Conference honors Saturday in the Colonial Athletic Conference Championships on Towson University's home course at Oregon Ridge Park. The junior from Bel Air placed eighth in the 6K race in 22:16. She is only the fourth Towson woman to earn All-Conference honors in cross country.
Three C. Milton Wright grads were among the competitors in the Capital Athletic Conference meet at Salisbury University Saturday. For the host Seagulls, Matt Hoerr ran 27:19 (8K) in 33rd place. Matt Smith ran 27:25 in 37th for York College. Stephanie Bower, competing for York, placed 39th in the women's 6K race in 24:45.
Nov. 9 – Fifth Annual Heather L. Hurd 5K, Harford Community College, 9 a.m., eliteracemanagement.com
Nov. 9 – Turtle Trek 5K Trail Run, Marshy Point Nature Center, Baltimore, 9 a.m. charmcityrun.com
Nov. 10 – Honeygo Family 5K, Perry Hall High School, 8 a.m., eliteracemangement.com