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Michael Wardian finally wins Marine Corps Marathon (the new 50K distance)

Victory was sweet for the ultrarunner, who lives in DC and who has been trying to win the MCM since he ran his first marathon, 23 years ago

Washington DC’s Marine Corps Marathon introduced a 50K ultra this year, and nothing could have made Michael Wardian happier. Wardian, 45, lives with his wife and two sons in Arlington, Virginia, and runs a lot of races in the area, but there aren’t that many ultras that don’t require traveling (which he also does, a lot). So when the event he raced as his first marathon, back in 1996, added a 50K this year, he jumped at the chance, and it paid off with a win for Wardian in a blazing 3:11:52 (which works out to 3:50 per kilometre).

“I wanted it so bad,” Wardian told us by phone this morning, adding that he has run the marathon distance many times. “To win the 50K was kind of a dream come true. I’ve run the marathon 16 or 17 times, and I think I’ve been second, third, fourth, 20th…”

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He added that, being attached to a big race like MCM, which typically attracts around 30,000 runners each year, the MCM 50K, which had almost 1,700 registered runners, is suddenly the biggest ultra in the US. “It’s nice to have quite a few people all pushing themselves–you don’t usually see this many in an ultra,” Wardian said. “We were joking with the race director at the start line that maybe they’ll add a 100K distance.”

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Wardian is on his way to Seoul, South Korea, where he’ll spend time with representatives of his sponsor, HOKA One One, and participate in a run with some local runners. From there he’ll travel to Hong Kong to race the HOKA One One Half-Marathon this Sunday, November 3 (the same day as the New York City Marathon, and it will count towards Wardian’s NYC Virtual Race). On November 10 he’ll race the Athens Marathon, and on November 17, the NYRR 60K.

2018 Barkley Marathons
American runners Mike Wardian and Jamil Coury chat about the changes to the book placement and route in 2018. Photo: Canadian Running

Dustin Whitlow, 33, also of Arlington, finished second in the 50K yesterday, in 3:21:36, and P. Early, 40, of Montclair, Virginia was third, in 3:40:50. Liz Ozeki, 31, of Rockville, Md. was the first woman (and fourth overall), in 3:42:04, Judy Doldorf, 46, of Manassas, Va. was second in 3:52:00 and Lisa Reichmann, 45, of Gaithersburg, Md. was third, in 4:15:11.

The ultrarunners started 25 minutes before the marathoners, departing from the same start line and running the entire MCM course, with an extra 7.8K detour inserted at the four-and-a-half-mile mark. The race offered a marathon finishing time with a mat at the 26.2-mile mark as part of the race, which counts for Boston-qualifying purposes.