Army Specialist Augustus Maiyo was not going to finish second in a Washington race for the third time in 12 months.
He ended up with the short end of the stick at the Army Ten-Miler last year and again last week. But he denied he was even thinking about retribution when he crossed the line yesterday at the 37th Marine Corps Marathon.
Like Hurricane Sandy about to blow into the Washington area, Maiyo blew away the competition as a member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program from Colorado Springs. His first marathon was clocked in 2:20:20, more than two minutes ahead of the rest of the record field of 23,864 starters.
"I actually wanted to win as a team," said the 29-year-old Kenyan turned American. "I thought I'd run 2:15. When I hit 20 miles, I thought, 'Oh man,' I was thinking of stopping."
The women's winner, Hirut Guangul, never considered stopping but she said she ran with pains in her lower left leg from the beginning. Nonetheless, she bided her time and took off 19 miles into the 26.2-mile race to easily win by five minutes in 2:42:03.
The 20-year-old Ethiopian, who trains in Silver Spring, has been busy recently, which could explain why she came into Marine Corps nicked up. She finished second at the Twin Cities Marathon in a personal best 2:34:02 on Oct. 7, then placed second again in the Des Moines (Iowa) Marathon in 2:35:49 on Oct. 21.
"I didn't feel tired," Guangul insisted through an interpreter. "At Mile No. 17, I decided to go. The pace was not very hard. I took a check inside myself and then I bolted."
The accompanying 10-kilometer race was shut down in progress when a suspicious item was spotted on the sidelines around the four-mile mark of the course.
Once the item was removed, the race, which attracted a sold-out 10,000 participants, returned to racing. Glenn Collins of Novi, Mich., and Susanna Sullivan of Falls Church, topped their respective fields in 46:34 and 47:31. The times were recorded as gun time, or running time, from when the race started in front of the Smithsonian Building on the Mall.
While that drama was going on, Maiyo was happy to be surrounded by friendly fire, his Army teammates. Right from the opening cannon from Route 110 alongside Arlington National Cemetery, it was Maiyo, Specialist Robert Cheseret, Specialist Kyle Heath, Capt. Kenneth Foster and Specialist Joseph Chirlee offering a seminar on team running.
Through Rosslyn up Lee Highway and down Spout Run to the Key Bridge, the World Class Athlete Program members ran in front together. Around the Georgetown Reservoir and back to Georgetown they strided, passing 15 kilometers in 48:32. By 10 miles, the group lost Foster and became a foursome.
"By mile 10, I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the pace, run my own race," said Foster. It was a wise move.
Heath was the next mate to fall back, in East Potomac Park, and Chirlee faded back before the half marathon, leaving Maiyo and Cheseret to cross the halfway mark in 1:07:41. That's just over 2:15 pace, which was Maiyo's ultimate goal.
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