In a race known for heat, hills and humidity -- all in abundance at the 29th Annapolis Ten Mile Run last Sunday -- two Marines on active duty used their signature toughness to overcome those obstacles and win the men's and women's divisions.
Neither Alex Hetherington, 37, of Stafford, Va., nor Mary Kate Bailey, 29, of Arlington led until the final mile. But at the crest of the Severn River Bridge -- the point from which some might say the tough get going -- Hetherington and Bailey separated themselves from their competition and strode to victory outside the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Hetherington won in 56 minutes 14 seconds, Bailey in 1:00:38.
"I had been gaining on the leaders, but it wasn't until I reached the top of the bridge that I thought I could win," Hetherington said. "It's always nice to beat a guy coming from behind."
That guy, Joe Racine, 26, of Rosslyn took the lead near the seven-mile mark from the fading early leader: this writer, Jim Hage. It remains unclear what Hage was thinking.
Racine ran steadily despite the oppressive weather and seemed headed for victory until Hetherington's late charge.
"I was just a little tired at the end," Racine said. "I've been training quite a bit this week, and I just couldn't keep it going."
Racine finished second in 56:25. Hage hung on for third in 56:30.
The women's race had been shaping up differently, with defending champion Susannah Kvasnicka, 32, of Great Falls, setting the pace and Bailey never more than a few strides behind.
"Oh, I knew she was there. I knew what she was going to do," Kvasnicka said.
"I spent nine miles trying to get rid of her."
But Bailey, a 1998 Naval Academy graduate, remained patient. "I didn't want to push the pace early," Bailey said, "because I knew she was competitive." Bailey had finished just behind Kvasnicka in a 5K in July.
"When she went past," Kvasnicka said of Sunday's race, "I just didn't have anything left to fight her with. It's a mental thing as much as it is physical."
Kvasnicka took second in 1:00:53, 15 seconds behind Bailey; they finished 17th and 18th overall. Mary Coordt, 35, of Elk Grove, Calif., placed third among the women in 1:02:27. Monica Grillo, 40, of Arlington was the top masters runner and ninth overall among women in 1:08:17.
Bailey, like Hetherington, is preparing for the Marine Corps Marathon. Bailey finished third in 2002 but was not competitive last year because she had given birth to her daughter, Aisling, six weeks before. This year, however, Bailey has circled Oct. 31 on her calendar: She said she will be trying to win.
Annapolis race officials this year inaugurated the Old Goat competition, a race within the race for Naval Academy graduates of at least 20 years ago; 170 alumni participated. Ben Moore, 79, Class of '47, was the most senior participant; he and his wife, Betty, 75, both Annapolitans, crossed the finish line together in three hours.
Paul Ryan, wearing a Class of '73 singlet, was the fastest Old Goat, finishing 104th overall in 1:08:07. Ryan, 53, of Arlington races frequently in the area but said this was his first A-10.
"I know what this place is like in August," Ryan said in explaining his prior absence. "Being here this time of year brings back memories of life as a midshipman -- we didn't have air conditioning!"
Notes: A record field of 4,323 (2,555 men, 1,768 women) crossed the finish line. . . . The start was delayed 10 minutes to give runners on the final shuttle bus time to arrive; off-site parking due to construction at the stadium went reasonably well otherwise. . . . The stadium's large video screen showed a continuous feed of runners crossing the finish line. . . . Former race winner Rose Malloy, 56, of Annapolis finished second in the 55-59 age group in 1:22:03. . . . Claire Saxton, 26, was the top finisher from Annapolis and seventh among the women in 1:06:29.