Russell Crandall believes he won the MS Challenge Half Marathon in the District yesterday because he had not been able to run for almost five weeks; Fiona Branton believes she won the women's race because she had run too much over the weekend.

Crandall, of Washington, who won the race in a time of 1 hour 9 minutes 21 seconds, began running early last week after missing five weeks with tendinitis in his right heel. He said he ran a cautious first mile to make sure his heel was all right before taking the lead for good around the second mile.

"I felt great and I think the layoff helped," Crandall said. "I had a great summer training, then hurt my heel running here and could barely walk up to last week. Somehow the pain just went away."

Barton, of Arlington, said she initially felt tight after running hard--and placing second--in the Falls Church Festival 5K on Saturday.

"I was thinking I would run the first mile and see if I needed to quit," Barton said. "My legs were tight at first but after that I felt great and wound up setting a personal best today. I set my personal best in a 10K the day after I had run a tough race as well a couple years ago, so maybe there is something to running back-to-back."

Notes: Peter Rushford won the 5K in 17:01. Jeffrey Welker placed second in 17:49 and Seth Goldman was third in 18:33. Susan Rizzieri won the women's race in 19:26. Shelley Ralston was second in 20:36 and Tara Borgna was third in 21:26. More than 2,300 runners participated in the half-marathon and 5K.