2010 National Marathon Preview - NBC4 Washington

2010 National Marathon Preview

Past champions return



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    National Marathon
    Patrick Moulton wins the 2009 SunTrust National Marathon.

    This will be the fifth year in a row that runners will line up at the starting line outside RFK Stadium for the 2010 SunTrust National Marathon.

    It will, however, be the first go-round for new race director Bill Reifsnyder. He's an experienced marathon runner in his own right, and he knows the history of D.C.'s signature marathon event.

    Complete 2010 National Marathon Coverage

    "I've heard nothing but good things about it," Reifsnyder said. "It's 5 years old, and in the industry it's a diamond in the rough. It's ready to explode."

    There will be a total of about 11,000 runners competing in this year's race on March 20 -- about 3,500 in the National Marathon, 7,500 more in the CareFirst Half Marathon and about 200 three-person teams in the Team Relay, which is a brand new event for 2010.

    And, as always, the big draws are a fast course, Olympic marathon qualifying and the ability to run one of the most scenic courses in the country. Marathons and historic monuments seem to be a perfect fit.

    "For me to come in here and have such a great foundation set ... it was a no brainer," Reifsnyder said. "The goal is to take this from a very well-known local /regional event to a regional/national and international event."

    This year's marathon features the only two people who have won the premiere men's event -- Michael Wardian and Patrick Moulton.

    If you have followed the National Marathon at all the past couple of years, you know all about Wardian. The Arlington, Va., native won the first three races in D.C., bringing him cult hero status among many in the area.

    He also won over many with the stories of just how much he likes to run. Seriously. The day after he won the 2008 National Marathon, he ran another marathon in Tennessee. Oh, and he finished third.

    Wardian seems to be in up to speed for this year's marathon. He won the ING Miami Marathon in late January, putting him in line for a shot at getting back his National Marathon title after finishing second last year. You can follow his progress online.

    Moulton bested Wardian in 2009 and is back to defend his title. The Providence, R.I., native set the course record with a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes 17 seconds. And he did it with one untied shoe.

    Moulton and Wardian are just two of a handful of runners who will be serious contenders to win. There is extra incentive, because the National Marathon and Half Marathon can be used to qualify for the Olympic trials. For the men, the qualifying time is 2:19 in the marathon or 1:05 in the half.

    "We've never had a runner under 2:20, but we have four or 5 guys capable of doing that," Reifsnyder said. "It's going to be interesting. They're racing against each other and helping each other at the same time."