Lanham is a long way from Boston, but for Terry Baker it's just one step away.

The 26-year-old from Hagerstown broke away from second-place finisher Charles Trayer 18 miles into the race and went on to win the 20th annual Washington's Birthday Marathon yesterday at DuVal High School with a time of 2:26:19. Now he plans to concentrate on preparing for the Boston Marathon on April 19.

"I feel real good now," said Baker. "But I didn't feel very good during the race. I wasn't fluid. I wasn't surprised I won, though. I knew I'd win going in."

"He caught me at around 10 miles," said Trayer, who finished more than a minute behind Baker at 2:27:40. "But he let me keep leading. I could feel him hanging on my shoulder. He was running off me for about eight miles, until he pulled away on the second loop."

Baker's time, more than four minutes off the record of 2:22:14 set by Bobby Doyle of Rhode Island in 1978, was surprisingly slow given the excellent weather. However, the winner was not pleased with the newly laid out course, which includes a greater incline and more hills.

"I don't like this new course," Baker said. "It has more hills, and the old one was a lot more interesting. In this one you just go around and around the school."

Baker finished second in the race in 1980, but ran poorly last year.

Junior Vera Thornhill, 16, of Linganore High School in Frederick, Md., was the top women's finisher with a time of 3:07:58.

"I mostly ran by myself," said the Mount Airy, Md., native. "I passed the women's leader (Joan Fowler of West Point, N.Y.) at about the 11-mile mark, and after that I was all alone."