Michael Wardian wins his fourth National Marathon
Michael Wardian made sure he savored the last 50 meters of the National Marathon on Saturday.
The 35-year-old Arlington resident slapped high-fives with spectators lining the final stretch near RFK Stadium and then let out a howl of joy after breaking the tape in 2 hours 21 minutes 58 seconds.
"You gotta live each race as your last," Wardian said. "You gotta seize the moment."
Wardian took control of the fifth running of the marathon from the start, trying to run at a 5:16-mile pace in hopes of clocking a sub-2:19 finish to qualify for the Olympic trials.
Although he fell short of that goal, he easily reclaimed his title from last year's winner, Patrick Moulton.
"Now I'm just mad I didn't win last year. I got a long way to go to be like Lance Armstrong," said Wardian, who has won the race in four of its five years.
Moulton, who lives in Providence, R.I., returned to Washington to defend his title, but the 28-year-old struggled with a stomach cramp beginning at Mile 14.
"I was pretty much just trying to get across the finish line," said Moulton, who nearly dropped out at Mile 22 before finishing second in 2:26:03.
Moulton doesn't expect to run another marathon until the fall, in hopes of regaining his speed.
It's a different approach from Wardian, who already has run five marathons this year, including one last weekend with a 15-pound pack on his back. He ran 44 races in 2009 and 53 in 2008.
Wardian is training for the 150-mile Marathon des Sables, a six-day trek across the Sahara Desert that left grape-sized blisters on the tips of his toes last year.
As the size of the National Marathon field has steadily grown -- on Saturday, 2,322 people ran the full 26.2 miles and 6,249 finished the half-marathon -- Wardian's times have dropped. He ran his fastest time on the course Saturday, but finished 40 seconds off the course record Moulton set last year.