- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 21, 2002

The temperatures and the humidity were high enough to make the winning times at the 17th running of the Rockville Rotary Twilight Runfest 8K pretty slow last night. But the conditions did not stop Ben Cooke and Atalelech Ketema from winning their respective divisions and earning $350 apiece.
Cooke, 25, is fairly new to the area, and Ketema, 19, has just arrived in the District from Ethiopia. They had formidable competition, although both the men's and women's fields were not as tough as in recent years.
Cooke needed a last-mile surge to finish off Darrell General in 24:28. Cooke, who moved to Silver Spring in January after graduating from James Madison University last year, used his superior track speed against General, a two-time Marine Corps Marathon champion.
Cooke's speed was overwhelming he finished with a 4:28 mile after he had averaged 5:00 for the previous four.
"I wasn't mentally into it," said Cooke, who was in the lead pack from the start and virtually controlled the race. "I had a really rough track season. Darrell General came up on me on an uphill with two miles to go, and I could tell he was fading."
That was in the dark parking lots of Montgomery College, when General, who was falling back in fourth, sped up and joined Cooke for the lead as the two passed three miles in 14:56. Kyle Smits and Edmund Burke clung closely behind.
By four miles, shortly after the turn onto Rockville Pike and into the glaring headlights of oncoming traffic, Cooke was biding his time. He led General by five meters.
Cooke, who has gone under 4 minutes in the mile, flew down the last stretch, his long, hair flowing like a mane, and nearly missed the finish tape stretched halfway across the street. It was a gratifying victory after he placed second at the Lawyers Have Heart 10K in June.
General, a 36-year-old from Mitchellville, was eight seconds back in 24:36. He was sixth last year in 24:32. Smits, a recent Georgetown University grad and fourth behind Cooke at Lawyers, cruised in one second later. Burke, of Burtonsville, ended in 24:42.
Pugsley, of Annandale, was third in 28:31; Suvorova, the Rockville-based Russian, was fourth in 29:01; and Smith, of Arlington, was fifth in 29:04.


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