- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2009

Alene Reta, an Ethiopian living in Manhattan, and Samia Akbar, a Herndon native, arrived at the Pentagon parking lot Sunday with the same thing on their minds: to break the event record at the Army Ten-Miler.

Neither 27-year-old disappointed.

Graced by bright blue skies, moderate temperatures and a slight wind, Reta and Akbar demolished the respective marks, him by 33 seconds and her by 55, ending in 46:59 and 55:25, respectively.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose - I wasn’t worried about that,” said Reta, who competed in the race for the first time. “I wanted to break the course record.”

He did so by forcing the man who had held the record since 2004 - three-time champion and 2004 Olympian Dan Browne - out of his comfort zone.

“We were out like a shot,” the 35-year-old Browne said. “We were 23:18 at five miles. Every day is different, and you never know who you are going to complete against. I was pushed harder than I’ve ever been pushed here. I just put it all out there.”

So when Reta answered the starting cannon along with the rest of the 21,654 starters, Browne immediately chased after him. Within meters, Reta, Browne and Tesfaye Girma, also an Ethiopian training in New York, had left the rest of the field behind.

“My plan was to win,” Reta said. “Everybody comes to the race thinking they want to win.”

Reta covered the first mile in 4:35 and the first three near the Watergate Hotel under the record in 14 minutes. By five miles, Reta was 32 seconds up on the record and four seconds ahead of Browne, with Girma another 15 seconds behind Browne.

Reta finally broke Browne in the down-and-back stretch on Constitution Avenue in the eighth mile, putting an insurmountable 25 seconds between them by the turn onto the 14th Street Bridge.

But Girma reeled in Browne on the bridge and put his sights on Reta.

“He passed me and went for the leader,” Browne said. “At that point, I was just trying to survive.” Girma beat the previous record in 47:20, with Browne clocking in at 47:49.

Akbar made good on a promise she made to herself four years ago. Back then, she was on a record pace when a bomb scare turned the race into an 11.2-mile run.

Akbar jutted into the lead near the end of the fourth mile and never trailed. She ran five miles in 27:44, 26 seconds under the record pace of Susan Molloy, who ran 56:20 in 1995.

“It’s four years in the making,” the American University graduate said. “Last time I ran here, it was a bomb scare and nobody’s time counted. I was thinking today that my time was a big cheer for all those whose times didn’t count in 2005.”

Katie Read, who battled Akbar to the finish at the Crystal City Twilighter 5K on July 25, was second in 56:39. Muluye Gurma, an Ethiopian training in Silver Spring, was third in 57:20.

Although the Brazilian army did not flood the top five as it did last year, the team still won the International Army Competition over Brown and the Army’s World Class Athlete Program by more than three minutes. Defending champion Reginaldo Campos Jr. was 14th in 51:13, and 2008 runner-up Steve Hallinan was seventh in 49:34.

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