Peter Lawrence Wins Rock ‘n’ Roll USA

Peter Lawrence leapt across the finish line on Saturday. Photo:

The 41-year-old claimed the first marathon victory of his career. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On a crisp, cloudy day, nearly 30,000 runners took to the streets of the Nation’s Capital to compete in the second annual Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon and CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon. In his first marathon win, 41-year-old Peter Lawrence of Houston, TX, won in dramatic fashion, overtaking front runner Jordan McDougal at mile 21, where McDougal fell ill and dropped out. Lawrence won in 2 hours, 32 minutes and 27 seconds, beating the second-place runner, Michael Wardian, a 38-year-old from Arlington, VA, by two minutes.

“This is awesome!” said a jubilant Lawrence, who jumped into the air as he broke the finish line tape. “I’ve never won a marathon before. This is unbelievable. And to have it happen in the nation’s capital makes it that much more special.”

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McDougal, a member of the 2006 U.S. junior team that competed at the World Cross-Country Championships, took the lead from the start and opened up a 1-minute lead at 15K, splitting 51:56. But 9 miles later his race took a turn for the worse, as an upset stomach brought what looked like an easy victory to a screeching halt. As McDougal struggled, Lawrence and Wardian gained ground, catching their first glimpse of the leader at the mile 19 turnaround at Nationals Park. McDougal regained his footing to slug through a 5:35 mile with a hand on his stomach as Lawrence approached with intensity. At mile 21 Lawrence pulled away from Wardian, the six-time champion of this event, who is rebuilding fitness after an injury-plagued 2012.

“I was hoping to slide in for the victory, but the guy pulled away from me. It was only my fourth run of the year over 15 miles and I just don’t have the fitness right now but I’m happy to finish second and come in on the podium,” said Wardian. “This is my hometown race, it was nice be out there slapping high fives with people and it’s kind of like Cheers, where everyone knows your name. Overall it was fantastic, it’s always fun to run on the streets of DC and Rock ‘n’ Roll brought a great event.”

In the women’s marathon, 29-year-old Ashley Olsen of Philadelphia was unaware of her chances for victory until the half marathon split, when she realized only one other woman was ahead of her. She caught Justine Morrison, 32, of Bethesda, Maryland, around the 13-mile mark and the duo ran together until Olsen made her move, finishing in 2:53:28. Morrison came in at 2:59:21.

“It was good,” says Olsen. “She stayed close and we talked to each other. I always try to encourage people. Of course you want to win but everyone out here that’s doing it at this level just needs to be supportive of each other. I hit the wall around mile 23 and then from there it’s just guts to get in. It felt amazing to win.”

The men’s half marathon saw Virginia resident Christopher Mills, 23, pitted against Tumicha Horsa, 32, of Washington D.C. By mile 7, Horsa had taken the lead after beating Mills on an uphill climb. Despite Mills’ best attempts to catch up in the final miles, Horsa would hold on for the win in 1:06:44, with Mills taking second in 1:07:03.

Hilary Dionne, 27, of Charlestown, Mass., ran her personal best in the half marathon, reaching the finish line in 1:16:12. The win was encouraging for Dionne, who plans to run next month’s Boston Marathon.

“It makes me feel good about how the training went this winter despite a lot of snow in the Northeast. That was my PR by 40 seconds so I’m feeling good going in to Boston.”

Lauren Philbrook, 25, of State College, Penn., came in second in 1:16:47, with Christine Ramsey, 30, placing third in 1:18:46.

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