Dan Browne certainly didn't have anything to prove by running in the Army Ten-Miler for the first time in five years. The 2004 Olympian established himself as one of top U.S. distance runners since his last appearance in 1999.
But Browne accomplished a lot in dominating the event, including bettering his own course record in the race through Arlington and the District in 47 minutes 29 seconds. He also used the race as a tuneup for the New York City Marathon in two weeks.
"I'm very focused on getting ready for New York City, so obviously if I don't look real comfortable out there, there's something wrong," said Browne, 29, who competed in the 10,000 meters and the marathon at the Athens Olympics.
Casey Smith, 25, of Arlington, easily won the women's race in 57:26, beating her nearest competitor by 36 seconds.
But Browne, a '97 graduate of West Point and a member of the Oregon National Guard, was the centerpiece of the race, which attracted 13,000 runners to the starting line. He returned to the event he won in 1997 and '98 and led from start to finish. Browne thrived in the cold, damp conditions -- "I'm from Oregon, so I'm used to the rain," he said.
Averaging 4:45 per mile, Browne's pace rarely varied and he began distancing himself from the field after the second mile. By the end he had shaved 15 seconds off his course-record time from 1997. He easily beat Ryan Kirkpatrick, 26, of Fort Carson, Colo., who finished 1:14 behind.
"I just wanted to get out there and get a nice pace going and see how I felt," Browne said. "If there would have been someone up there with me, I think I could have gotten under 47" minutes.
Browne said the result encouraged him going into New York, where he will be part of a strong American contingent. Joining him there will be Athens silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and women's bronze medalist Deena Kastor. Browne said he has set a goal of 2 hours 9 minutes for himself; if he can run that kind of time he likely would be in contention to win.
In the last marathon he ran, at the Olympics in August, Browne didn't fare as well. He raced 10 days after the 10K finals, in which he placed 12th. But at the longer distance Browne cramped up late in the race before finishing 65th in 2:27:17.
"I wish I could say the marathon was the highlight of my experience, but it really wasn't," Browne said. "I was completely dehydrated, that's the only way to describe it."
Smith was nearly as dominant as Browne in the women's race, beating 32-year-old Christine Clifton of Kirkland, Wash. Smith shaved nearly a minute off her winning time at Army in 2002, when she ran 58:21.
Smith averaged 5:45 per mile and started pulling away from the pack around the four-mile mark.
"I felt great out there, it was a big improvement over last time I was here," Smith said. "I just had a good day."