X Factor Is Main Figure in Marine Corps Marathon
Monday, October 31, 2005
Carl Rundell thought he knew about all of the runners capable of winning yesterday's Marine Corps Marathon. He researched their times and knew that, after finishing fifth last year, he had a good chance of winning.
But as Rundell led the group of almost 30,000 runners, there was one man alongside him he didn't know. The man in the navy blue tank top and shorts was matching his pace, and he wasn't going away.
Ruben Garcia stayed with Rundell for about 20 miles before leaving him behind. Garcia then spent the last several miles of the 26.2-mile race simultaneously battling his cramped left hamstring and holding off Rundell. He did both successfully and finished in 2 hours 22 minutes 14 seconds -- nine seconds ahead of Rundell -- and won the 30th Marine Corps Marathon with the fastest time since 1997.
Garcia told reporters through an interpreter that his "objective was to win" and added that he was satisfied after holding off a determined Rundell.
Susannah Kvasnicka, 33, from Great Falls, was the first woman to cross the finish line. She ran the Twin Cities Marathon four weeks ago and began yesterday's marathon ready to drop out if she didn't feel physically capable of running a strong race. Instead, she earned her first career marathon victory by finishing in 2:47:07, almost three minutes ahead of Eugene, Ore., resident Liz Wilson.
"I just thought I'd come out and see what happens," Kvasnicka said. "But I felt pretty good at 10 [miles] and just decided to keep going."
Garcia, 34, said the only two marathons in which he competed this year before yesterday were in Mexico -- likely the reason he evaded Rundell's scouting report. But Garcia's experience in Mexico didn't work entirely to his advantage. The corporal in the Mexican navy found running yesterday's course, which began near the Arlington Memorial Bridge and wound through the District, slightly more difficult than ones to which he is accustomed.
He said his "legs felt like they were giving out because of the hills."
Garcia, who lives in Mexico City and trains at relatively high altitudes, was also adversely affected by yesterday morning's chilly air. The temperature hovered around 40 degrees at the start of the marathon's first wave of runners, a level much cooler than the 60-degree weather Garcia prefers.
"It was harder to breathe," he said.
Whatever discomforts affected Garcia, they hardly showed. He and Rundell assumed the lead during the first quarter of the race, and both reached the 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) mark in 34:34.
It was approximately at this point that third-place finisher Eric Post, 26, of Centreville, fell back for good.