- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 30, 2008

Score another marathon victory for Michael Wardian.

The 33-year-old distance runner from Arlington has won all three National Marathons, distancing himself from the field early on yesterday and winning in 2:24:59.

The time was his best at National, topping his 2:30:55 in the inaugural 2006 race and 2:26:36 last year.

His biggest challenge yesterday wasn’t necessarily his competitors but trying to catch a noon flight after the race to compete in another marathon today in Knoxville, Tenn.

I just went out hard and I kept going, Wardian said. I wanted to challenge the guys early. I ran most of the race by myself.

Myriam Grenon, one of the prerace favorites from Longueuil near Montreal, ran virtually alone the entire way, too, also ending in an event-record 2:54:51. The 39-year-old mother of four didn’t realize she was about to win her first marathon in six tries until after 22 miles.

I was surprised, the French-speaking Grenon said through her husband Serge St-Antoine, who was ahead of her in 2:49:05. The two were in the area to watch 15-year-old daughter Steffi play in a soccer tournament in Richmond.

Conditions were quite favorable for the third edition of the SunTrust National Marathon, which also included a half-marathon. A course change this year took both the marathoners and half-marathoners from the start at RFK Stadium along the National Mall, through Adams Morgan, down North Capitol Street and along H Street NE before returning the half marathoners to the finish at RFK.

First to the finish of the half was 19-year-old Ezkyas Sisay, who moved to the United States from Ethiopia in 2006. Sisay dashed any plans Christopher Rabbe of the District had of repeating his 2007 victory here, as the 2006 Ethiopian national steeplechase champion ran 1:06:17 to edge Raabe by seven seconds.

The women’s half-marathon field was loaded with athletes sharpening for the Olympic marathon trials in Boston in three weeks.

Samia Akbar controlled the race as expected, yielding the lead only briefly after five miles to Ethiopian and frequent area racer Teyba Naser. Akbar cruised in 1:16:31 with Naser following in 1:17:00. Olympic marathon qualifier Abby Dean of Philadelphia earned bronze another 34 seconds back.

I was hoping to run in the 1:15/1:16 range, Akbar said. I felt like today I was right on schedule for the trial. This was a confidence builder.

Wardian, meanwhile, enjoyed another splendid morning on the roads of the District. The anticipated showdown between Wardian and Kenyan Charles Kamindo (best time 2:15) never materialized as Kamindo dropped out, and by three miles, Wardian ran by himself.

By 10 miles, he had a 57-second margin on Samuel Gebremichael, an Ethiopian training in Hyattsville, and Brendon Moody of Van Wert, Ohio. By the half-marathon passing RFK Stadium in just less than 1:12, his lead grew to 90 seconds.

I was kinda worried about the guys catching me from behind, Wardian said. I think I raced the Ethiopian guy last week at Shamrock.

Indeed he did, but at the windy Shamrock Marathon, Gebremichael got the best of Wardian, 2:22:41 to 2:24:55. Yesterday, Wardian avenged the loss to Gebremichael by nearly four minutes at 2:28:53, then dashed off to the airport. Moody finished third in 2:29:42 and Philippe Rolly of Fairfax, fifth last year, was fourth in 2:32:39.

A total of 4,090 starters pounded the pavement, including D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, who ran a marathon personal-best of 3:40:05.

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