- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 6, 2004

Andre Williams intends to win the Marine Corps Marathon this fall.

For years, the 32-year-old runner has been proving himself one of the nation’s top 5,000- and 10,000-meter track and road athletes. But now, with his best running days behind him and a budding running store consuming all his time, Williams said he has made a business decision: to try to win the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct.31 in his first 26.2-mile race.

“It’ll be fun,” Williams said about literally following in the footsteps of business partner Pete Sherry, who won Marine Corps last year and gained priceless publicity for their Gotta Run store at Pentagon Row in Arlington. “I can sell a lot of running shoes. We got a lot of promotion last year. We got great publicity.

“My customers will get a kick out of it, having local guys winning it back to back. The customers don’t know Pete because he’s not in the store. They know me. It’s a business decision. The plan was for me to run last year, but I was in the store all day every day and had no time to train appropriately.”

Williams said his longest race to date has been 10 miles at the Cherry Blossom race and at the Army Ten-Miler, where he and Sherry were members of the now-defunct elite Reebok Enclave that battled Dan Browne and the Army’s best runners in the World Class Athletes’ Program (WCAP).

“I figure all I need to do is run 5:25 pace or so,” he said. “I’m not looking for a time, just to win. If Pete can win it, how hard can it be?”

Sherry won last year in 2:25:07, one of the slowest winning times in race history.

But Williams has doubts whether the marathon will become his new running focus as it has for many top American 5K and 10K specialists who recently moved up in distance with great success.

“I’m not in love with the distance — I don’t like running more than two hours,” said Williams, an Arlington resident for 10 years.

Asked whether Marine Corps will be a one-time marathon stint, Williams replied, “I don’t know. We’ll see how much I like it.”

Williams is not new to the work involved in training for the marathon distance. He has more than a decade of intense 5,000- and 10,000-meter training in his legs.

In 1999 and 2000, he was consistently training 110 miles a week and partnering with Enclaver and current Nike Farm Team member Chris Graff for 20-mile training runs on the C&O; Canal towpath.

Williams’ plan is to train 90 miles a week, with two long runs of 14 miles apiece while he continues to build his 10-month-old business. He hopes to do a tempo-run half-marathon in September, possibly in Philadelphia, before lining up for Marine Corps.

And he said he may even have the company of Sherry for his debut marathon. Certainly he will have a training partner in Gotta Run employee and 2004 Olympic Marathon trials qualifier Chris Banks, who is preparing for the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota on Oct.3.

Closing fast — The Annapolis 10-Miler is nearly full. If you wait past today to register, you may be shut out for the Aug.29 run through Maryland’s capital city. Log on to www.annapolisstriders.org to secure your spot.

Priced out — Late fees are a way race organizers can encourage prerace registration. The fees are usually $5 or so, more of a slap on the wrist to those who are not willing to or can’t commit until race day.

But the $35 late fee for this morning’s Masters track meet at the Prince George’s Sportsplex is more than a slap and comes on top of a $20 entry fee for the first event and another $10 for each subsequent event. At $55 to $65, I can run a marathon and get a T-shirt and a full meal after a race.

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