By Jim Hage
Monday, November 1, 2010; D4
With a strong push just past the 20-mile mark, Air Force 2nd Lt. Jacob Bradosky dropped defending champion Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Mentzer, a Marine 1st Lt. and a Kenyan civilian who aspires to join the U.S. military to win the 35th Marine Corps Marathon in 2 hours 23 minutes 30 seconds.
"I was told to run the first 20 miles with my head and the last six with my heart," Bradosky said, "and that worked very well."
Bradosky, 23, is a Wright State graduate stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Santa Barbara, Calif. His time, in his fifth marathon, was a personal best by 20 seconds.
The 26.2-mile race, with a record 21,856 finishers, started at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington and passed the major monuments downtown amid heightened security because an unknown gunman has fired shots at U.S. military sites four times, including twice at the Marine Corps Museum, in recent weeks. Sunday's race proceeded without incident.
"Everybody involved in keeping the race safe upped their game today," race director Rick Nealis said at the finish line as helicopters hovered overhead. "We held the race shortly after 9/11 [in 2001], so this is not unfamiliar territory for us." The race, which goes through seven jurisdictions, was marked by an expanded security presence.
Ronald Kurui, a native of Kenya, stayed close to Bradosky but finished in second place 11 seconds back. Kurui fell hard to the pavement in the early miles when another runner clipped his heel, and Karui scraped his knee and elbow, which required medical attention after the race.
"My knee was tight and I could not sprint at the finish," he said. Asked if he might have won had he not fallen, Karui shook his head slowly and said maybe.
Karui visited veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center last week and promised to donate his award, a silver laurel wreath he hoped would be gold, to the hospital's trophy case. After spending two years in the United States, Kurui wants to gain citizenship and join the military as a translator.
Marine Corps 1st Lt. Sean Barrett, running his first marathon, took third in 2:24:08. Barrett, who began training for the race while stationed in Iraq, will be deployed to Afghanistan in early January; he ran with "USMC" across his chest.
"Wearing the Marine Corps singlet at this race is a great honor," said Barrett, a 2007 Harvard graduate. "It's not lost on us that there are a lot of Marines deployed right now. Here, the crowd gives you great support, but that also means you can't let them down."
From the start, Mentzer shared the lead with fellow officers Bradosky and Barrett, who were rejoined by the shaken Kurui at 13 miles. By 15, the quartet had caught two early leaders and seized control of the race. All four had entered the race with winning as their stated goal.
"We were talking at eight [miles]," Bradosky said, "and knew we were all brothers in arms. We were well back of the leaders [90 seconds at 10 miles] but just said to remain patient. I think we all ran a smart race."
"Mentzer was our sounding board," Barrett said. "He was the senior man on deck. We were just following his lead." And Mentzer appeared to be dictating the pace as the lead pack headed across the 14th Street Bridge and into the race's defining stage.
"It was put up or shut up time at 20 miles," said Mentzer, who was trying to become the first back-to-back winner since Ruben Garcia-Gomez in 2005-06. "Sean, Jake and I had worked well together for a long while, but Jake made a strong move and I couldn't answer."
Mentzer struggled to the finish fourth in 2:27:01.
Mark Croasdale, 45, is the 1999 champion and a British Royal Marine. He finished in 2:46:44 and finished 54th. "It gets harder every year," Croasdale said. "Maybe I'm pushing my luck."
Another former winner, Garcia-Gomez, 39, wearing bib No. 1, ran in the top 20 for 15 miles but did not finish. And 1990 winner, Matthew Waight, from Pipersville, Pa., 47, finished 200th in 3:02:28.
David Swope, 44, from New Windsor, Maine, won the wheelchair division in 2:07:25.