Thursday, March 31, 2016

GRC Blossoms into Spring

Last weekend marked the official beginning of spring racing for GRC, as a small contingent of the Club's track crew took their turns on the tartan ovals of Raleigh and College Park.

This weekend, GRC runners will be out in force on the track and on the roads, springing to life alongside the blossoming flora and frolicking fauna.

Crystal City

First up, GRC will kick off the spring road racing season on Friday in Arlington at 6:30PM EDT with the first race of the Crystal City 5k Fridays series, an opportunity generously organized by our sponsors at Pacers Running. Toeing the line for GRC on the women's side will be Laura O'Hara, Kara McCartney, Alyson McGonigle, and Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier Emily Potter (who, pushing a baby stroller, will seriously up the ante of the race). Among the men out for the evening fun will be GRC's Kyle Cooke. Alyson, a 2015 graduate of and former middle-distance standout at the University of Richmond, will be making her GRC debut.

GRC's Ryan Witters starts one of last year's Crystal City 5k Fridays races (Swim Bike Run Photo).

Colonial Relays

Down south, GRC's early bloomers will return to the track in Williamsburg, Virginia for the 51st annual Colonial Relays at the College of William and Mary, led by Stephanie Reich in the Championship Women's 1500 meter run on Friday evening at 6:55PM EDT*. Steph is fresh off of her GRC track debut, personal best, and number two all-time GRC performance in the 5000 meter run at the Raleigh Relays. At Zable Stadium, she will look to notch her first mile-equivalent PR at the 1500 meter distance since high school. Judging by her recent performance, fitness is on her side.

Joining Steph in Virginia's colonial capital will be a sizeable crew of men in the Championship 5000 meter run, scheduled for 8:20PM EDT*. Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier Carlos "CJ" Jamieson will make his highly-anticipated official debut in GRC blue as he mixes it up with some of the Mid Atlantic region's collegiate best in the event. Carlos will have a good shot at notching a spot among the top five all-time Club marks, if not the 13-year-old Club record of 14:09.

Accompanying Carlos will be Stewart Reich, happily reunited with his wife Steph after they divided and conquered the east coast track scene last weekend. Stew is ready to notch his first sub-15 minute performance at the twelve-and-a-half lap distance on the track, after barely missing his PR of 15:04 by a single second in a solo effort at Maryland. Also running the event will be Kyle Wagener, fresh off his GRC outdoor debut in College Park. Luk Olenginski, in his own GRC outdoor track debut, will toe the line on Saturday at 10:20AM EDT* in the University Men's section of the race.

A live stream of the Colonial Relays will be available here; live results, here.

*The official meet instructions indicate that events may run up to 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

NOTE: The live stream is only available on Saturday, beginning at 1PM EDT.

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler (Watch Live!)

After a day of rest on Saturday, GRC will be back on the road, blowing pink petals off the Cherry trees around the Tidal Basin in their wake as the team musters for the annual premier fixture of the D.C. (and national) racing circuit that is the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler. The race gets underway at 7:20AM EDT with the Elite Women's start. The event will be broadcast live here.

Some of GRC's biggest guns will be out in the sun for this race, including CJ, doubling back from his performance Friday evening, and rube Kieran O'Connor, returning to racing just over a month after his 24th-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Kieran will still proudly be sporting the single pair of running shorts he owns, and Coach Jerry has indicated that Kieran's race plan is to try and break 65 minutes in the event, in hopes of solidifying his place as a member of the B+ training group.

On the women's side, GRC superstars Kerry Allen and Maura Carroll will lead the way, both on the hunt for fresh PRs. Kerry and Maura are well-prepared for the pancake-flat course at Cherry Blossom after their triumphant efforts over the hills of the RRCA Club Challenge Ten Miler in Columbia, Maryland just a short month ago and the hills of the Rock 'n' Roll DC Half Marathon two weeks later.

Also out to steal some glory beneath the Cherry Blossoms will be GRC's Jerry "Outlaw" Greenlaw, Evan Jurkovich, Charlie Ban, Dave O'Hara, Chris Van Es, Paul Balmer, Matt "Fridge" Hassett, and Sebi Devlin-Foltz. Evan has been steadily racing his way back to form after an extended hiatus due to injury. Fridge will be gleeful to escape from his PhD research, if only for another brisk ten miles. Meanwhile, Balmer will take to the Tidal Basin as part of his ongoing preparations for the Boston Marathon.

Notably, Dave O'Hara will celebrate his 40th birthday with his Masters debut at Cherry Blossom, and hopes to improve upon his third-place age group showing in the event last year. Challenging Dave's dominance in the Masters division will be some guy named Meb Keflezighi.

Outlaw returns to Cherry Blossom coming off of an outstanding performance at the RRCA Club Challenge Ten Miler in February, where he led the men's squad to a runner-up finish over the extremely challenging course. For Outlaw, running the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler has become an annual fixture almost as certain as the budding of the trees and the flocking of tourists to those trees. Cherry Blossom was Jerry's first race after moving to the DC area in 2010 (but before joining GRC), and it remains his favorite race. This Sunday, Outlaw will look to continue his consistent showing as one of the top Americans" in the event, and hopefully snag a PR.

Jerry "Outlaw" Greenlaw
 Old man Charlie Ban commented that this year's Cherry Blossom Ten Miler would be markedly different from the 2010 edition of the race, as he will be the only returning GRC stalwart in the event from that year's competition crew. Long-time GRC veteran Jake Klim, also known as the "Red Fox," who led the Club in the 2010 race and has ostensibly "retired," is reportedly "putting all of his marbles" into his clandestine training for the Marine Corps Marathon this coming October.

The following video of the 2010 edition of the race, extracted from the depths of the GRC archives with the help of our wise historian, features a triumphant Red Fox, a brief appearance by Outlaw in his pre-GRC days (00:35), and the wise man himself: Charlie Ban.

*Video Courtesy of GRC Blog, April 2010 Archives.

Last year's race was disrupted by an early-morning traffic incident, necessitating the rerouting of the course, and resulting in the first (and hopefully last) ever Cherry Blossom Less-Than-Ten Miler.

As the throng of tourists along the tidal basin subsides, and many of our runners turn in their first results of the spring, we will have a report of all of this weekend's action featured here as the information becomes available.

The team will meet up at the Cleveland Park Bar and Grill (3421 Connecticut Ave NW), as is its custom, at around 2:30 for a post-race party.

Blossom 'em.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post erroneously reported that Sebi Devlin-Foltz was slated to compete in the Crystal City 5k. In fact, Sebi was up for a more formidable challenge, as he braved the wind and cold in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. The GRC blog staff apologizes for this error.

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