- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2007

Despite unusually warm conditions at the 23rd Army Ten Miler yesterday, a tough group of Brazilian men and one ageless Russian woman managed just fine, topping a record field of 17,600 finishers at the nation’s largest 10-mile annual foot race.

This marked the first visit to the race for the Brazilians. In a sprint to the finish, Jose Ferreira edged teammate Reginaldo Campos Jr. to win by a second in 49:21, the slowest winning time since Jim Hage’s 50:37 in 1993. The margin of victory was the closest ever.

In the women’s race. Firaya Zhdanova, a Russian who trains in both Gainesville, Fla., and her homeland, pulled ahead by 32 seconds after six miles and just hung on through a grueling last mile to win in 58:31.

The death of a civilian runner from Fairfax County, who collapsed at about 10:40 a.m. nearly 200 yards from the finish line at the Pentagon, marred the race. Col. Jim Yonts, a community relations specialist for the Military District of Washington, did not immediately release the victim’s identity or age.

Zhdanova, 46, now holds the Ten-Miler masters (40-and-over) record, an honor she took from area favorite Alisa Harvey (59:00), and in the process thwarted Harvey’s attempt at an unprecedented fifth victory.

“It was very hard, but I was thinking about the finish line and I kept running — I was thinking about the record,” Zhdanova said through her 52-year-old teammate Tatayana Pozdnyakova. Zhdanova added that she bypassed other races with prize money to compete here for free for her team Foot Solutions Elite Running Team in her first 10-miler.

Yesterday’s record performance is just one of many in Zhdanova’s long career. She set the Boston Marathon masters record of 2:27:58 in 2002 and has placed in the top two in her age group in the half-dozen marathons she has run in the past three years, including a 2:39 effort at the Houston Marathon earlier this year.

Susannah Kvasnicka of Great Falls, Va., moved into second place for good by four miles and ended in 59:11, far off her 10-mile personal best of 57:27. Nonetheless, she was satisfied given the heat as she prepared for April’s U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in Boston in April under new coach Matt Centrowicz.

Harvey, a 42-year-old who won the Ten-Miler in 1998, 1999, 2003 and last year, played it safe in the heat because she had a bad experience with heatstroke at 16. She placed fifth in 1:00:34.

The heat did not seem to have much impact on the leading Brazilian men. They went out strong in what quickly became a race between the six Brazilians in their yellow and white uniforms and the six Foot Solutions racers in their green and whites.

Ferreira remained in or near the lead from the start from the Pentagon on the Route 27 side. By the time the runners covered the first five miles of pavement in 24:31, just four men were in the mix: Ferreira, Campos and teammate Josueldo Nascimento and Tamrat Ayalew, an Ethiopian with Foot Solutions.

Shortly after nine miles, Nascimento folded. Off the bridge and down the ramp into the Pentagon parking lot, Campos made his move. He seemed to break Ferreira momentarily, but his rival rallied to draw even in the last 100 meters. Seconds later, Ferreira broke Campos and the finish line tape.

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