Semunguse Sets Course Mark in Jingle All the Way 10K

By Jim Hage
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 10, 2007

At home in Ethiopia, Solomon Semunguse is just another in a nation of fast runners. But in the United States, Semunguse is a winner, as he demonstrated at the Jingle All the Way 10K yesterday in West Potomac Park, where he surged ahead in the final half-mile and finished first in a course-record 31 minutes 30 seconds.

Beruk Deberework, another Ethiopian, set the course record of 31:31 last year.

Semunguse, 20, has been living with his sister, Naomi, in McLean the past two months, during which time he has raced repeatedly with the hope of earning a few dollars and more importantly, attracting a manager. Yesterday's race offered no prize money, and Semunguse was further disappointed not to receive a waiver of his entry fee.

"But it's okay, I like to race," he said. "I like to be in the United States."

Michael Wardian, 33, of Arlington, ran just behind Semunguse nearly the entire way but couldn't match Semuguse's finishing kick and took second in 31:43.

"I thought I was going to get him," Wardian said, "but he had a strong finish. This is my first race since [winning the JFK 50-Mile Run on Nov. 17], so I can't complain."

Vanessa Hunter, 32, of Arlington, took the lead early in the women's race and won in a personal-best 35:26, also a course record and more than a minute ahead of runner-up Susannah Kvasnicka, 35, of Great Falls. Martha Merz, 45, of Annandale, and Mark Stickley, 45, of Winchester, Va., finished first among those 40 and over in 37:58 and 34:17, respectively.

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