2015 Alexandria Running Festival in Review

-by Chris Leyen

Alexandria, VA--Over 1,100 runners competed this weekend in the 6th Annual Alexandria Running Festival Half Marathon and Running Brooke 5K with over 800 competing in the Half alone. The event featured runners from 24 states, but was comprised primarily of runners from the dedicated Washington area running community. The Alexandria Half is Alexandria's longest race and also this year's RRCA Eastern Regional Half Marathon Championship and RacePacket Grand Prix Race #4, and is conducted by Marathon Charity Cooporation, a local all-volunteer organization, led by Nicholas Panebianco, composed of Washington area runners. All proceeds after cost for this event are given to the MCC Charity Partners that include small grassroots charities from both the local area and around the world. For a full list, visit mc-coop.org.

Ashish Rathee took first in the Alexandria Half with a time of 1:20:38, narrowly beating out Danny Goodin (1:20:42) by 4 seconds. In the women's division, Angela Ortiz (1:21:50) took first, finishing over 7 minutes before the next female competitor Andee Swann (1:28:54).

The 2015 Alexandria Half featured another beautiful day, with a mild start in the mid-upper 50s, continuing the trend of wonderful weather that has historically graced the event, never having a rainy day in any of the 6 years it has been held. The course heated up throughout the morning, but runners remained comfortable on the serpentine route that wound through 3 parks and on terrain that varied from asphalt to gravel,dirt, and grass, 50% of which is shaded. The flat course is not for PRs, but "changes its personality every mile or so" says race director Nicholas Panebianco, making for an interesting run through Alexandria. The shade was welcome as the race began 25 minutes after the scheduled 7:30 start due to the need to remove cars parked illegally on critical areas on the course.

The Running Brooke 5k began 30 minutes after the Half start, and had over 250 finishers. James Coates took first in 18:24 followed by the current leader in the RacePacket Grand Prix series Ted Poulos, finishing in 18:30. The three overall male winners were rounded out by Sean Clancy in 19:25, and were followed immediately by the top three female finishers: Caroline Howley (19:45), Melissa Divecchia (20:11), and Alexis Tressler (20:35). Full results for both events are available at RacePacket.com

Continuing its tradition of offering the large market marathon experience for the local running community, the Alexandria Running Festival featured an Expo and Seminar Series on Saturday, May 23, from 1:00pm-5:00pm, the "College of Running". The six part series covered topics from hydration, to injury prevention, course strategy, and cross training. Between 300-400 athletes attended the Saturday expo, and a couple hundred visited the seminar. Following the expo was a pasta dinner attended by a dozen or so competitors, and the race staff. The pasta dinner features a notable keynote speaker, in the past Michael Wardian has spoken at the dinner. This year, however, complications arose and this year's announced speaker Wilson Komen was unable to attend.

This year the Alexandria Half paired with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon to offer runners a chance to run the "Alexandria Double". Runners who complete both this last weekends event and the Wilson Bridge Half on October 4th receive an additional medal for completing both events. Almost 200 runners are already participating, and the option is still open for any of the runners who completed the Alexandria Half to register for the Wilson Bridge Half to become eligible for the Double. Visit wilsonbridgehalf.com for more information.