Flynn, Merachi take CareFirst Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon.
WASHINGTON, DC – With sunny skies and the cherry blossoms in full bloom throughout the city, the first SunTrust Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon & CareFirst Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon took place amidst a sea of green on St. Patrick’s Day to crown a familiar champion. Prolific marathoner Michael Wardian won the men’s marathon on Saturday morning, completing the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 35 seconds. The 37-year-old Arlington, VA resident previously won the National Marathon five times and, from the cheers of his name along the route, is no doubt one of the most popular runners in the District of Columbia.
“It’s weird I don’t usually get nervous, but when you’ve had a lot of success somewhere, you can only go down,” said Wardian, who was briefly challenged at 12 miles by second place finisher Travis Barczak, but otherwise ran alone. “I’m excited and happy to get the win today; with the beautiful weather it was a perfect day to run.”
George Washington medical student Meghan Bishop won the women’s race in 3:01:40, more than ten minutes ahead for second place finisher Bethany Sachtleben of Manassas, VA. Bishop was running in her first marathon and had never competed a race longer than 10 miles.
“I really liked it, but it was more challenging that I thought it would be,” said Bishop who graduated from William & Mary, where she competed in track and cross country. “I was not expecting to win, but I’ll certainly use the prize money to pay off some of my student loans.”
First across the finish line in front of RFK Stadium, was men’s half-marathon winner Ricky Flynn of Lynchburg, VA. The 24-year-old won the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 39 seconds. Washington-based Ethiopian Askale Merachi won the women’s half marathon in 1:16:52, just six days after winning the St Patrick’s Day 8K last weekend.
“It’s kind of early in my training so it was a good workout, good effort. The course was nice, there were a few more hills and turns than I expected but it was fun,” said Flynn, who recently placed 12th in his marathon debut at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. “I broke out after a few miles – it was me and this other guy – and we were going back and forth until about mile 7 and then he fell off a little bit. I pushed the next mile and then I didn’t hear him anymore so I looked behind me a few miles later, he was nowhere to be seen and it was just me from there.”
Previously known as the National Marathon, the only marathon that’s run entirely within Washington, DC, the event was managed for the first time by San Diego-based Competitor Group and rebranded as part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, drawing 24,000 entrants from all 50 states and 34 countries. The event featured a post-race concert headlined by the Grammy Award-winning rock band Switchfoot, outside of RFK Stadium. The weekend’s schedule of events also included Rock ‘n’ Roll relay teams and nearly 1,000 junior marathoners in ING KiDS ROCK DC event on Friday evening, a non-competitive, non-timed, one-mile fun run for kids grades K-7.