Eleanor Simonsick, who finished 91st the first time she ran in the Bonne Bell 10-kilometer run for women three years ago, pulled away from Marge Rosasco with just over two miles to go and won the fifth annual event yesterday at West Potomac Park.
Simonsick covered the flat course in 35:05--1:25 off the course record set last year by Pia Palladino of Georgetown University.
Finishing second in this event for the fourth straight year, Rosasco crossed the finish line 10 yards behind Simonsick in 35:08. Anne Densmore, a 12-year-old seventh grader at Hancock (Md.) Middle School, was third in 36:38.
A total of 3,300 women, including a dozen or so girls under 13, 25 women aged 50 or older, and a 70-year-old grandmother, registered for the race, sponsored by Washington RunHers Unlimited. More than 90 percent of the runners finished the race.
One runner who didn't was 70-year-old Eleanor Becker, who flew here Saturday afternoon from Perdido Beach, Ala., to run with her daughter, Bonnie, and 14-year-old grandaughter.
"I have to be honest, I only ran halfway," said Becker. "I went as far as I could and stopped. But I enjoyed it so much."
The race wasn't much fun at the beginning for Simonsick, who ran a 3,000-meter race at Penn State Saturday and drove home late that night.
"I was a bit tired but this race is special to me because this is where I started running long distance," said Simonsick, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and a research consultant. "The first time I ran more than five miles was the day before the Bonne Bell here three years ago. I've run here two other times and finished fifth and sixth. The best time I've ever done is 34:55, but I'm real pleased with today's race."
Running conservatively in an effort to prevent early leg cramps, Simonsick kept pace with the early leaders, keeping a particularly close eye on Rosasco.
"I had to run easy to see if I was recovered from that 3,000-meter race," said Simonsick, 24, of Washington. "This is the fifth race Marge and I have finished in the top five, so I knew I had to keep her in sight until I felt I was ready to catch up to her. I came up on her at the halfway mark. We passed one another a few times for about a mile and then I went ahead. I have a lot track speed so I knew if I was near the front at the end, I'd have a chance to win. I couldn't hear her breathing anymore so I knew I had a good lead going to the finish line."
Rosasco said she knew she would have a tough time winning as long as Simonsick was near the front.
"She has more natural speed than I do and she's very strong," said Rosasco, of Fallston, Md. "I'm 34, and mentally, when I think about all the 23- and 24-year-olds, I know I have to push myself a little more. After the three-mile mark, I heard her footsteps and knew she was coming."
"I didn't think I'd win but I wanted to finish in the top five," said Densmore, whose cross-country times are better than most of the high school girls in the metropolitan area. "There was a lot of wind and I'm real happy with third."