Charles Trayer led from start to finish in the Dannon Two Bridges 36-mile run yesterday, establishing a meet record of 3 hours 30 minutes 52.4 seconds. His victory qualifies him for an expenses-paid trip to Scotland to compete in the annual Scottish Two Bridges Classic next August.
Trayer, a 27-year-old cabinet-maker from Reading, Pa., opened with a swift 5:08 first mile and quickly had a 400-yard lead as the 250 runners made their way from Market Square in Old Town Alexandria to Mount Vernon along the George Washington Parkway.
By the time Trayer passed the 10-mile mark, a half-mile into the George Washington estate, he had extended his lead to more than four minutes over Steve Molnar, clocking a strong 56:01.
Over the next 10 miles, through Old Town heading into the District, Trayer increased his lead over Molnar by another minute, while Jim Ulvestad moved from 16th place into third. Ulvestad, who won the George Washington's Birthday marathon in Beltsville earlier this year, cut the deficit to roughly nine minutes behind Trayer and was closing fast.
Meanwhile, Trayer had started to slow down because of a blister on his right foot. Molnar, picking up the pace, started closing in on his rival. At the marathon mark (26.2 miles), Trayer's time was 2:30.33. Molnar was charging and looked fresh, but was still four minutes behind.
Molnar continued to close, cutting the deficit to three minutes as he passed 30 miles in 2:56.45.
With three miles to go, Molnar finally got a glimpse of his rival. He closed to within 150 yards, with 1 1/2 miles to go, but Trayer managed to block out the pain from the blister and Molnar could not get any closer.
"The blister started bothering me at about 18 miles and when it popped at 30 miles, I knew he was closing, but I figured I could take it easy and still hang on. The last two miles I just let go and picked it up, although I couldn't sprint," Trayer said.
"I didn't want to go out that fast," Molnar said about Trayer's quick early pace. "I figured if I kept a steady pace, I could get him later in the race. I knew I was gaining on him near the end and figured I could get him, but with about two to go, he picked up the pace again, and I knew it was over."
Mel Williams, 43, of Virginia Beach was the top masters runner with a 3:54.45, 10th-place finish. Karen Smith-Rohrberg, a former Cheverly resident who lives in West Falmouth, Mass., was the top female finisher in 4:49.17.