A trio of Army runners battled a strong head wind down Boundary Channel Drive along the Pentagon, their finish at the Army Ten-Miler determined by inches. In the end, Augustus Maiyo, winner of the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon, edged out Robert Cheseret in 48:20, just a second off of last year’s winning time. Shadrack Kipchirchir, who placed 19th in the Summer Olympics as a member of the U.S. 10,000-meter team, was third, two seconds back.
All three were born in Kenya and joined the U.S. Army after graduating from college. Maiyo ran at the University of Alabama.
“The last 200 [meters], Robert was ahead a little bit, then I don’t know what happened. Maybe the wind was too much, but he stumbled and I wound up in front,” Maiyo said.
The course begins and ends at the Pentagon, with a trip through Foggy Bottom and around the Tidal Basin and Agriculture Department.
Maiyo didn’t expect to even be in this time zone two weeks ago. He had been training for the Chicago Marathon, but word from the World Class Athlete Program was that he would be racing with his teammates in Arlington and the District. Those teammates included three other U.S. Olympians in 3,000-meter steeplechaser Hillary Bor (fourth), 10,000-meter runner Leonard Korir (fifth) and 5,000-meter silver medalist Paul Chelimo, who won last year’s Army Ten-Miler. Maiyo was 16th at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in February.
“My plan was to run with these guys, try to stay with them,” he said. “They’re fast, so I felt like if I could stay with them, I could run a pretty good time.”
Chelimo dropped out near five miles with hamstring trouble, following more than a month off of competition after the Rio Games.
Maiyo’s 4:49 mile pace was about 10 seconds per mile off of what he thought the group of Army runners could run, which would have threatened Alena Reta’s course record of 46:59. Much like the second half of his Marine Corps Marathon win, all alone in front during the weekend Hurricane Sandy traveled north, the elements had some influence.
“We had to battle the wind the whole time,” he said. “You could feel it one way or another the whole time. It definitely slowed us down.”
In preparation for Chicago, Maiyo had been running 140 miles a week in Colorado Springs, where he and the rest of the WCAP athletes train together several times a week. Had he known he was going to be racing 10 miles, he said he would have been running much less.
“I didn’t think my speed, for 10 miles, wasn’t all there, but when you get in a race you can surprise yourself,” he said.
The wind was a departure for the Army Ten-Miler, which had enjoyed good racing conditions the past several years. But that did not bother Maiyo when it came to the competitive side of the race. This was the first time he had broken the finish-line tape in several tries.
“I’ve been second [twice], fourth, sixth, seventh,” he said. “Finally, I won it. It feels good.”
Frederick native Stephanie Reich won the women’s title in 56:21, almost two minutes ahead of the next woman, after finishing third in 2015.
“I tried to go out conservatively, trying to be patient, but at four miles I felt good, so I kept going,” she said. “I knew a woman could come up behind me, but I just kept pushing so that wouldn’t happen. I just tried to keep moving up, passing people.”
She had run 57:46 last year in her first race longer than 10,000 meters, shortly after graduating from Bucknell University. In the year since, while coaching cross-country at Thomas Johnson High in Frederick, her training picked up with the help of the Georgetown Running Club. In May, she won the Frederick Half Marathon.
Vienna’s Perry Shoemaker was second for the second straight year in 58:15, and Kelly Calway, a U.S. Military Academy instructor who won the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon, was third in 58:56.
The Army Ten-Miler, regularly the second largest U.S. 10-mile race behind the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, had 24,455 finishers this year, down from 26,312 in 2015. Runners dealt with the WMATA’s moratorium on early openings and late closings during the SafeTrack process, which pinned many between a 7 a.m. opening and the 8 a.m. start time for faster runners.