Philippe Rolly knew he had a sizable lead in the 14th Lawyers Have Heart 10K run yesterday in Georgetown. But he still took that unavoidable glance back between mile markers 5 and 6.
What Rolly saw made him smile inside. With the nearest runner a good 100 yards behind, Rolly, a native of France who lives in New York City, coasted to his fourth Lawyers title in 31 minutes 23 seconds. Erik Kean of Arlington made a strong surge in the final mile, passed Quantico's Nathan Flores for second and finished five seconds behind Rolly. Flores took third in 31:38.
Rolly, 31, also won this race in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
"Little by little, I went faster and faster. I wanted to run by myself," said Rolly, a physical therapist who also ran the most recent Boston, New York and Chicago marathons. "I knew I would win. . . . I don't know why, but I knew it."
Samia Akbar, 22, of Herndon, who ran track at Oakton High and was a track and field all-American in her senior year at American University, won the women's division in 36:01. Yesterday's race was her first time running 10K on the roads and only her third effort at that distance. She ran 10,000 meters on the track in 2003 at the Penn Relays and the NCAA championships.
"From the beginning I didn't see any women near me. I took out a relaxed pace," said Akbar, who was a volunteer assistant track coach at American this past academic year. "I was running with a pack of guys. I just wanted to run and have fun."
Akbar finished 1 minute 18 seconds ahead of the second-place women's finisher, Genevieve Kiley of Washington.
For their victories, Rolly and Akbar each won two round-trip airline tickets good anywhere within the continental United States. Proceeds from the race, which included more than 2,000 finishers, benefited the American Heart Association.
The course, rather than heading downtown as in years past from the starting line under the Whitehurst Freeway, ran west on M Street past Georgetown University and onto Canal Road before looping back after a U-turn.
Rolly appeared at home on the revised course. After running in a pack that included Kean, Flores, Alexandria's Chris Dean and Washington's Kyle Smits for the first 21/2 miles, Rolly opened a gap. But he struggled to shake Flores, who remained 15 yards behind at four miles and within striking distance at the 5-mile post. After that point, Rolly increased his lead, first to 100 yards, then more as Flores faded and Kean moved up.