What was an impediment to many of the 838 starters in the 3rd Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks on Sunday -- cold, drizzly weather and a bike trail in many stretches inundated by persistent weekend showers -- David Spiller and Denise Knickman turned into an advantage.
Spiller, 24, from Harrisonburg, Va., and Knickman, 34, from Baltimore easily rolled to wins in 2 hours 33 minutes 10 seconds and 2:59:19, respectively.
"With the sloppy conditions, I just went out conservatively," Spiller said. "When I saw the leaders at 20 [miles], I knew I had a chance and said, 'Just go for it.'"
Although it wasn't quite as easy as that -- Spiller caught the lead pack, tried unsuccessfully to break away, and fell behind again -- he was alone coming out of the Air Rights Center tunnel in Bethesda and broke into a broad smile at the sight of the finish line.
Silas Kiplagat, 23, from Kenya, finished a close second in 2:33:39. Retta Feyissa, 27, an Ethiopian living in Washington, took third for the second straight year, this time in 2:34:04.
"The weather was very cold," Feyissa said, echoing the sentiments of most who ran. "Lots of puddles, very wet."
The nasty conditions may have slowed Knickman, but like Spiller, she had no complaints. Knickman, who ran seven seconds faster to finish fourth in the Baltimore Marathon five weeks ago, decided to compete in a second marathon this season only four days before the race. She got up early, drove south on Interstate 95, took the lead a mile into the race and never relented, earning $1,000 for her effort.
"The money was definitely a motivating factor," Knickman said. "The race went smoothly. The hardest part is going to be driving home."
Patty Fulton, 36, from Silver Spring, took second in 3:05:33. Fulton, third last year, initially struggled with the miserable footing. "There were parts where the water was up to my knees," Fulton said. "We avoided the puddles for the first few miles. After a while though, you just gave in, and it was kind of fun. Refreshing, even."
Who Let the Dogs Out?
Lara Menig, 31, didn't come all the way from Valley Stream, N.Y., to let her second marathon go to the dogs.
So when a Rotweiller leaped out of a crowd of spectators and bit her on the hand 16 miles into the race, Menig barely broke stride.
When Menig relented a few miles later at an aid station to get the puncture wound treated, officials urged her to drop out and seek further medical attention. "They didn't want me to finish, but I started to cry, so they let me go," she said. "I lost10 minutes there."
Menig finished in 4:37.