- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 29, 2006

The stoic faces of the runners yesterday as they passed the 10-mile mark during the Marine Corps Marathon clearly showed the strain of a 26.2-mile race had already settled into their legs and minds.

It was only when Faron Rollins, 48, from Toronto, grinned under his handlebar mustache and flashed a victory sign that the crowd’s scattered applause turned into a roar.

When Mr. Rollins approached the finish line in the first group of runners nearly an hour later, he repeated the gesture, which earned a chuckle from his wife, Vicki.

Some of the most vocal of the 112,000 spectators were visitors supporting out-of-town runners trying their skill and luck in one of the most popular marathons in the country. The field of more than 32,000 yesterday was the biggest in Marine Corps Marathon history.

The predicted gale-force winds never materialized. Even as the last of the runners crossed the finish line, the wind did little more than tousle hair and spin leaves — ideal for cooling even the fastest runners, who would need more than two hours to cover the course.

Ruben Garcia, a corporal in the Mexican navy, won for the second straight year. He finished in two hours, 21 minutes and 17 seconds.

The finish festival around the Iwo Jima monument was a jumble of colorful singlets, running shoes and windbreakers worn by exhausted runners meeting family and friends. Congratulations were shouted in English, Spanish and other languages.

Sherrie McMullen, co-owner of Stems Flowers & Gifts in Alexandria, said she sold about 12,000 flowers, many given to runners at the finish.

“We’ve had a great time,” she said. “It’s just such a wonderful event.”

Many runners were pleased with their performance, even if it was just completing the race.

“It was my first time,” said Sandra Ortiz, a 44-year-old member of the Achilles Freedom Team, a project by the Achilles Track Club, founded to help disabled veterans and others participate in mainstream athletics events. “I think I did great.”

Eating pasta and cookies after the race with other members of the team, Mrs. Ortiz acknowledged she was “very emotional” upon finishing, then announced her intention to return home to New York City to participate in the marathon there next weekend.

“I was thinking of my grandson at home when I crossed the finish line,” she said.

One runner died during the race. Officials have identified him as Earl Kevin Seyford, 56, of the 3100 block of Paladin Terrace in Olney. He was found at 12:13 p.m. on Ohio Drive and pronounced dead at 1:10 p.m. Officials suspect Mr. Seyford died of a heart attack, but an autopsy has not been released.

Bill Hysell, a 51-year-old from Brookville, Md., got strange looks from bystanders for the colorful sleeves he wore to warm his arms.

“A lot of cyclists wear them,” he said. “I used to cut the toes out of tube socks and use those, but these look better.”

Rubbing his left knee after the race, massaging the swollen joint, Mr. Hysell said this was his third marathon this year and his fourth Marine Corps Marathon since he began to seriously run in 1990.

He removed his shirt and unstrapped the heart monitor around his chest. The key, he said, was to pace oneself and to never get distracted by the crowds.

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