Washington, D.C., has always been a city of beauty, but on Saturday, at the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC Marathon & 1/2 Marathon, the nation’s capital was especially scenic. Some 24,000 runners turned out in gorgeous spring-like conditions to take part in the fifth annual race. Mizael Carrera, however, saw it as a gorgeous day for race-day domination in the half marathon distance.
After a heartfelt rendering of the national anthem within sight of iconic monuments like the Washington Monument, runners started out down the broad expanse of Constitution Avenue that runs alongside the National Mall.
Both the half marathon and marathon races began together, and the two lead packs quickly separated according to event.
Mizael Carrera, a Puerto Rican living in Addison, Ill., absolutely dominated the half marathon, clocking one hour, 6 minutes, and 17 seconds to break the tape in front of RFK Stadium with a wave of the hand. The 24-year-old had a huge day, setting a 2-minute PR and winning the race with a huge margin over second-place finisher, Carlos Jamieson (1:07:53). Third place was awarded to Andrew Brodeur, who was overcome by Jamieson in a sprint finish to the line.
”The race felt good,” said champion Carrera afterwards. “I ran it alone and didn’t run 1:05 like I had hoped, but I’m happy with it.” Carrera, who previously held a 1:08:08 half-marathon PR, was setting his sights on a 2:19 marathon so that he could represent Puerto Rico at the Summer Olympics in Rio. When asked how it felt to run pretty much the entire race alone, Carrera shrugged his shoulders and flashed a smile. “I was in great shape going into the race. It was fine. The only hard part for me was the big hill [at 10K], but I’m pleased with how I did.”
The first woman to cross the half marathon finish line was Bethany Sachtleben, who covered the 13.1 miles in 1:19:45, which is an average of 6:06 per mile. Sachtleben broke the finish-line tape wearing an “old school” yellow t-shirt that read “Mason Women’s Soccer.” Today’s victory was a thrilling experience for the 24-year-old champion from Manassas, Va. “Today was amazing,” she said. “These Rock ‘n’ Roll races are always a blast. There is so much support out there. I loved the course, especially when I passed the Georgetown Running Club. They pumped me up when I needed it.”
Second place in the women’s half went to Kerry Allen (1:20:10).
The third-place finisher, Hannah Eckstein (1:20:28), came across the finish wearing a “Run for St. Jude” t-shirt. “I have had some family members who have battled cancer and wanted to chip in to show my support,” Eckstein said. The 23-year-old, who works in D.C., said she found out about the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital after seeing an ad for it on the metro. “I wanted to make today count,” she said. Eckstein ran her debut and said she owes to her coach and members of the Georgetown Running Club. “It’s such a great team,” she said of them.
The men’s marathon went to the ultimate ringer, Alfredo Arevalo Reyes, a Guatemalan citizen who won in 2:30:05 while holding his country’s flag over his head. Reyes, an Olympian who boasts a 2:12 marathon PR, signed up to race the day before and led from start to finish. “I have never run in a Rock ‘n’ Roll race before, and I have to say this was the most fun I’ve ever had in a marathon,” he said through a translator. Second and third place were awarded to Steve Chu (2:34:11) and Dirian Bonilla (2:37:25).
The first woman to cross the marathon finish line was last year’s champion, Martha Nelson, who smiled when she saw her 2:58:09 finishing time. “I’m a born and bred Washington, D.C., native, so it’s really nice to win this race,” she said afterwards. “The bands and the support on the course were great. It can get pretty lonely out there as a marathoner, so these kinds of things help.” Lori Nedescu (2:59:56) came in behind Nelson, while third place was awarded to Katie Moran.
A 5K was also held on Saturday. Dickson Mercer (16:10) was the men’s winner, and Kendahl Melvin (20:56) prevailed in the women’s division.
True to the spirit of all Rock ‘n’ Roll races, runners and their families got their funk on at the Toyota Rock ‘n’ Roll Concert Series when Tower of Power took to the stage in front of the Armory and RFK Stadium.
Check out the race highlights here!