- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2002

Alisa Harvey made a name for herself in the Washington area and across the nation as an elite middle-distance runner and competitive regional road racer. Which was why her followers were surprised when she stepped up to the marathon distance three years ago and successfully took on the Richmond Marathon.
Today at the 27th edition of the Marine Corps Marathon, Harvey insists her main goal is to improve on her performance at Richmond. It is more than likely, if all goes well today, that Harvey, 37, also will be remembered in Washington as a Marine Corps champion.
"If I were a little more seasoned, I'd be looking for the competition and somebody to key off," said Harvey, the 1991 Pan American 1,500-meter gold medalist. "I'm looking to compete against Alisa."
The long-time Virginian said she needed to have a goal after giving birth to daughter Kyah on Feb.22 and to finish some unsettled business after dropping out of the warm 2000 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials at mile 20 in 2000.
"After the first [marathon in Richmond in 1999], it was almost a beginner's one," said Harvey, who was born in Arlington, not far from the Marine start and finish line in Rosslyn. "I did well and I was happy and then unsuccessful. I didn't want to leave it that way. I was curious as a runner why I ran so well in one and not so well in the other.
"After the baby and gaining so much weight, I needed to have a goal to lose the weight," said the 5-foot-21/2-inch Harvey, whose weight soared from 112 pounds to 171 pounds during pregnancy but now is back to normal. "I always wanted to do the Marine Corps Marathon because it is in the town where I have lived most my life."
Harvey would have had some stiff competition had defending champion Lori Stich Zimmerman not pulled out days before.
"I had a nasty bout with the flu not long ago that made me miss some crucial training, and I'd like to try to break 2:40 the next time out, which I know I can't do at less than 100 percent," Zimmerman said.
No other woman in the field plans to run sub-2:50, which is where Harvey wants to be. She ran her debut marathon as runner-up in Richmond in 2:49:26, nailing a qualifier to the 2000 Olympic trials.
The finish at Richmond was ugly.
"I hit the wall at miles 21, 22," she recalled, not sure whether she was carried away from the finish line on a stretcher or on a wheelchair. "I wasn't on my feet. I was delirious. They had to stick an IV in my arm."
Dehydration and lack of electrolyte replacement were the culprits, issues she said she has addressed for today's race.
In the men's race, John Sence, an elite athlete from Cincinnati, desperately needs a victory. Although there is no prize money, Sence seeks something greater: a confidence booster after a string of injuries, particularly to both feet.
"I am coming here primarily because of Brooks [Shoe and Apparel Co., his co-sponsor]," said Sence, 32, who also is sponsored by Clif Bar. "Brooks mentioned it to me last year. I wanted to have [an Olympic trials] qualifier by that point. I was going to run Grandma's in June. But ever since I turned 30, it's been injuries. I need to get the competitive juices flowing again."
Now he just needs to get back to the 2:15:40 shape he was in four years ago, when he was ranked as the No.6 American by Track & Field News. Since then, his marathon career has hit the wall.
Sence finished 42nd in the 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials in 2:30:18, one place behind his 1996 trials performance. He ran his last marathon in December of that year, a 2:17:11 at the California International Marathon.
"After Grandma's, I was so frustrated," said Sence, a talented high school runner who lived in the shadows of Bob Kennedy as an Ohio prep star. "Then I figured I could go into Marine Corps and not have the pressure. I am looking for a level of confidence, more than anything to go out and have fun with the sport again. But it's tough to do it alone. That's why I am hoping there are other people around my time to help me out."
There should be.
In the mix could be 1999 champion Mark Croasdale of the British Royal Marines, teammate Mark Flint, Annapolis resident Patrick Reed and Washington-based Ethiopian Retta Feyissa.
Defending champion and retired Marine Farley Simon returns as a coach of the U.S. Marine team but will not be running this year. Nor will Zimmerman's husband, Paul, who led most of last year's race before Simon overtook him.
Croasdale, the 37-year-old Stubbington, England, resident who represented Great Britain in cross-country skiing in the 1992 Olympics, ran a brilliant 2:21:09 at London six months ago.
He has hit the cycle in four Marine Corps appearances: first in 1999, second in 1998, third in 1996 and fourth in 2000. He also has been instrumental in the British Royal Navy/Royal Marines winning the Challenge Cup from the U.S. Marines in 1996 and 1998 through 2001.
Croasdale, like the 39-year-old Flint, wants to finish in 2:20 or better.
Christopher Juarez, a 32-year-old from Las Vegas, is competing for the U.S. Air Force in the Armed Forces Competition and hoping for a 2:22 time. It's a big jump from a 2:29 in Las Vegas in February last year and a 2:47 at the St. George Marathon three weeks ago.
One of the first of the 22,400 entrants to finish could be familiar, Ken Archer, 53, of Springfield. He has turned in his wheelchair, which rode him to 10 Marine Corps titles, for a hand cycle this year, one of five expected competitors in this exhibition sport now popular at marathons in Boston, New York City and Los Angeles.

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