Last week, Joseph Kipsang twice ran along the George Washington Parkway from Mount Vernon to Alexandria, trying to lower his time and feel out the route that would be used for yesterday's 15-kilometer race.
Kipsang's practice and endurance paid off as he edged Stephen Spence of Fairfax by a yard in the second annual George Washington Parkway Classic in 44 minutes 56 seconds, beating the record of 46:43 Bruce Coldsmith, who was fifth yesterday, set last year.
Natalie Updegrove of State College, Pa., won the women's division in a record time of 52:53, five minutes better than last year's mark set by Martha Orem, who finished second yesterday in 56:07.
The run began at Mount Vernon and ended at Jones Point in Alexandria. Officials closed the George Washington Parkway an hour before the race.
Kipsang, a Kenyan who works at his country's embassy in Washington, and Spence pulled away from the pack at the first mile and battled each other to the finish.
But neither man pulled away, and the 9.3-mile race came down to a 200-meter sprint. With 50 meters to go, they were even, but Kipsang built a slight advantage over the next few meters and held on for the victory.
"I realized very early in the race that I would not be able to pull away from him," Kipsang said, "so I paced myself for the first eight miles before I began my kick, and I was just able to pass him and win."
"I looked back and thought he was struggling, but I still could not pull away from him," Spence said.
Kipsang, 25, who won the Shamrock Marathon at Virginia Beach earlier this spring, said he would run the San Francisco Marathon on July 7. He said he has not decided what to do with the $500 first prize.
Updegrove, a graduate student at Penn State, said she found the Parkway course most enjoyable, mostly because she had virtually no competition from the very start. Despite breaking the record, she said her time could have been better.
"The course and the weather were perfect," she said. "The only problem I experienced was that I was trying to pace myself, hoping to break 52. Unfortunately, there was nobody there to pace me. It would have been nice to break 52."
Updegrove said she would next compete in a half marathon at the Summer Sports Festival in Houston. She said her $500 will help pay expenses so she can attend events she would not otherwise be able to afford.
Alexandria Mayor Jim Moran, one of 1,380 competitors yesterday, finished in 1:21:10.