- The Washington Times - Monday, March 19, 2007

Adrian Fenty took to the streets of his hometown yesterday in his first official race as D.C. mayor. It was not just a ceremonial run, either.

Fenty placed 140th out of 3,506 finishers at the 19th edition of the St. Patrick’s Day 8K on a blustery morning in which the windchill dipped well below 20 degrees.

But the mayor seemed unaffected by the weather. He was clad in running shorts, a shirt from his father’s Fleet Feet Washington store and race bib No. 1, occasionally grunting and cheering on his competitors in the last mile to finish strongly in 33:52. It is safe to say no other D.C. mayor has covered 8 kilometers on foot as fast.

“I’m working the kinks out,” the 37-year-old Fenty said after the race. “An 8K at 33 minutes, for me that is good, under seven-minute pace this early in the season.”

Fenty said he is in training for the National Marathon in the District on March 24, with aspirations to complete a couple of half Iron Man triathlons by year’s end.

“I’ve done a couple of two-hour runs recently,” said Fenty, who was pushed hard yesterday by his 41-year-old brother, Shawn, who led Fenty at the halfway mark but trailed by some 30 seconds by the finish. As for next weekend’s marathon, his seventh, Fenty said, “I’m going to run it, but I am not going to race it.”

The top racers yesterday were Jacob Frey and Misiker Mekonnin, two law students who pocketed $300 for first place. Neither was particularly challenged, although a late-charging Alisa Harvey made the women’s race look closer.

“It was a good one,” said the 25-year-old Frey, an Oakton High School and William & Mary grad who is attending law school at Villanova. “I was expecting some of the Ethiopians and Kenyans going out with me. It was windy as hell. It felt like I was in Siberia.”

Frey broke early as the runners left the Old Post Office Pavilion and headed down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol. Just a mile into the race (in 4:39), Frey was 15 meters ahead of eventual runner-up Abreha Assef, an Ethiopian training and occasionally racing in the District.

Frey followed the lead police car through three miles in 14:25, up 43 seconds and a city block on the 25-year-old Assef, who was in an intense battle with Eric Lavigne of Leesburg. Frey increased his lead to 60 seconds at four miles before running into a headwind back up Pennsylvania Avenue to the finish.

Frey’s time of 24:13 was 22 seconds faster than he ran on the same course last April at the Stop the Silence 8K. But he said his main focus is on the marathon, where he has a 2:17:37 qualifying time for the Olympic marathon trials in New York City in November. He is hoping to hear next month whether he was selected to represent the United States at the Pan American Games in Rio in July.

Like Frey, Mekonnin, a 20-year-old law student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was well in the lead from the start. She was averaging 5:43 a mile through three before the headwinds slowed her over the last two miles to end in 29:10.

Finisher numbers were down significantly from last year’s 4,737 and lower than 2005’s 3,829.

Note — Michael Wardian of Arlington ran 2:21:37 at yesterday’s Shamrock Festival Marathon in Virginia Beach to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in November.

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