- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last year, Steve Hallinan was an unknown in a sea of 30,000 runners at the Army Ten-Miler.

During Sunday’s race, he will be a marked man.

That is what happens when you emerge from the pack and run down everybody but the winner. Hallinan ended just 13 seconds behind champion Reginaldo Campos Jr. in a superb 49:12.

“I came into last year’s race with no expectations,” Hallinan said Friday after working at the Pacers booth at the Army Ten-Miler expo. “To be honest, I was thinking if I ran 51 minutes I’d be happy.”

Hallinan was in such a frame of mind because he had just taken the summer off from running after concluding a stellar career at American University. For an 800- and 1,500-meter specialist, racing the decade distance would push his limits.

“I was just thinking about maintaining my rhythm and getting closer [to Campos] with each step,” said Hallinan, a 23-year-old D.C. resident. “I went from fourth to third to second. I was coming across the [14th Street] bridge and it was a formidable gap, so I just wanted to try to close the gap slowly. … It was close. It kind of fuels the fires for training. But I still have more work to do.”

He came back six days later in a five-kilometer race at the Baltimore Running Festival and shocked himself with a 13:54.

“In the past, the winning times had been 14:30,” said Hallinan, runner-up by a second. “When I saw the clock at the finish line, I was thinking, ‘Holy crap.’ I didn’t think I could run that fast. I think the course might have been a bit short - we may have missed a turn.”

He ran cross-country through the fall, but knee pain after Christmas shot his winter and spring seasons. Hallinan said his only measurers for Saturday come from a tempo run in a 10-mile race on the Jersey shore in August (he ran 54 minutes last year and 52:03 this year) as well as a triumphant 14:43 last weekend at the Clarendon Day 5K, organized by his employer, Pacers.

Finishing second in the Army Ten-Miler last year leaves only one place to improve upon. “The only pressure on me is the pressure I put on myself,” he confided. “I know I am in good shape. I plan to go out with the elite pack and see what happens. I will try to stay relaxed and focused.”

Besides the army of Brazilian military elites who have stolen the show the past couple of years, Hallinan will have his hands full with event record-holder and three-time champ Dan Browne, who set the mark in 2004 with blazing 47:32.

Coincidentally, Pacers bought running retail store Gotta Run in Pentagon Row in Arlington, where Hallinan worked last year. Hallinan led the Gotta Run team to victory in the Army Ten-Miler. Former Gotta Run owner Andre Williams staged some epic battles with Browne in the 1990s as a part of the now-defunct Reebok Enclave.

“Andre has been telling me about racing against Dan Browne - just when you think you have him, he takes off on you,” Hallinan said.

No matter what happens Saturday, Hallinan said he is “living the dream.”

“I work for Pacers and rotate between the Old Town, Pentagon Row and Arlington stores, working 25 to 30 hours a week, running, and helping my coach at American [Olympian Matt Centrowitz] with the Pacers Running Program,” he said. “Washington is a great place to train.”

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