- The Washington Times - Monday, August 25, 2003

ANNAPOLIS — For most of its 28-year history, the Annapolis 10-Mile Run has rightfully gained its reputation as a survival test. Schedule a race near the end of August in the Maryland capital and expect staggering heat and humidity.

Not this year. More than 4,426 starters began the race at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium yesterday morning with delightful temperatures in the low 70s and humidity at a pleasant 50 percent.

Both Susannah Kvasnicka and John Supsic made the best of it, recording victories in two of the faster times at Annapolis in years. Personal bests were set by hundreds behind them, and a record 4,420 runners made it to the finish line, where each was awarded a Timex watch.

Kvasnicka, a 31-year-old mother of two from Great Falls, grabbed the lead immediately and never trailed. In her third attempt here, she won with a 1:00:34, virtually the same time Liz Scanlon ran in 2001. It was the fastest time for a woman since 1995, when Bonnie Barnard Lopez recorded a 59:30 on the course.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to win,” said the pony-tailed Kvasnicka, training with the fledgling Potomac River Running Company team as she attempts an Olympic Trials qualifier (sub-2:48) in the Oct.12 Chicago Marathon. “I was just thinking of running 6:10 pace but I was feeling pretty good on the hills.” She ended up averaging a 6:03 pace with even 5-mile splits of 30:12 and 30:22.

Meanwhile, Supsic, in his first try at Annapolis, surprised the leaders by slowly breaking from a small pack as they ran down Main Street into the historic district in the third mile of the race. The 2001 Towson University grad never relented, scoring a fast 51:41 in near-even splits, the fastest winning time since Keith Matiskella clocked 51:32 in 1996.

“I’m a dark horse,” said the 24-year-old Baltimore resident. “I took five months off after college, then I started to get back into training for a marathon. I came here to win. At the turnaround at 6 to 63/4 miles, I was going up the hill and I could see where everybody else was and I felt I could win it.”

Supsic said he is running his debut marathon at Chicago with hopes of nailing an Olympic Trials qualifier of 2:22 or better. The man who followed him across the line yesterday in 53:10— Aaron Church of South Riding, Va. — owns a qualifying time of 2:21:47 from Grandma’s in June.

“This was a great workout for me,” said Church, a 28-year-old engineer at Nextel, who was supported at the finish line by wife Alicia and daughter Abby. “I’m going to run the Marine Corps Marathon to try to win it. I came out today to run a big-time local race. He broke me around three, four miles.”

Church, however, was no stranger to Annapolis, placing 24th in 1:02:15 in 2000 and seventh in 58:30 in 2001.

Craig Morrell of Baltimore systemically picked off runners throughout the race to finish third in 53:48.

Kvasnicka improved on her fourth-place position last year (1:03:21) and certainly fared better this year than she did in 2001, when she said she had shingles the night before the race and placed a disappointing 14th in 1:09:33. That was about the time, at age 29, that she first started running competitively.

Jennifer Flint of Berwyn, Pa., was second in 1:01:32 and Meg Leatherby of Boulder, Colo., was third in 1:02:57.

The Grillo team of Monica (10th in 1:07:00) and Jeanne (15th in 1:08:42) sandwiched a 14th-place effort by two-time Olympic 800-meter runner (1992, 1996) Meredith Rainey Valmon, who clocked 1:08:31 as she prepares for her debut marathon in the fall.

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