Yesterday marked the 40th annual running of the Woodward Cross Country Relays. This meet, for those unfamiliar with the format, consists of two runners alternating miles for six miles total. The course was around Georgetown Prep’s golf course featuring many hills, turns, and fast short grass excellent for spikes and fast times. Though it was sunny all day some clouds seemed to help the runners through the very humid heat conditions of this race during race time. Not only did these clouds help but also a few sprinklers near the end of the soccer field coupled with a few minutes of drizzling rain all helped to cool runners off for this very unique race.
First up on the slate of events for this meet was the guys’ race featuring sixteen schools of which most brandished six pairs of runners. This race started out great with a huge group handing off after the first mile but soon after the field lengthened out and leaders emerged. After the first two legs this lead was decisively between Thomas S Wootton (Wootton) and Walter Johnson (WJ) with two teams in the top three. After the halfway mark (after 3 Miles) WJ had the lead at 16:50 and led by 10 yards over Wootton with WJ, Sherwood, and Bethesda Chevy Chase thirty meters behind them.
Four miles in and the race had become evident that it was a two team race, Wootton and WJ. Both of these teams dueled throughout the race and would exchange leads on alternating legs (WJ’s first leg kept passing Wootton past the hills). Going into the last two miles was Wootton first at 22:30 with a sixty meter lead on WJ. Wootton’s first leg, David Levine (12), after the race spoke about how he “didn’t want to let him (Josh) or the team down and wasn’t afraid of pain”…and he showed that type of attitude by making up the deficit and handing off even with WJ going into the final Mile. The anchor for Wootton, Josh Trzeciak (12),[picture right] wasn’t afraid of pain or anything else as he completely took command of the race and by the time they (WJ and Josh) were running along Rockville Pike it was a sixty meter lead in favor of Wootton. Josh would hold on to win in a time of 33:49, which averages out to 5:37 miles! Walter Johnson finished in second (34:11) and Bethesda Chevy Chase was third (34:52).
After the race I spoke with the winning Wootton team and both expressed what many were thinking… either this race was very hard or very easy. For Josh it was very easy as he said it was not a cross country race because of the breaks he had between miles while his teammate David was not as big of a fan because he considers himself more of a XC runner than Track guy and thought it was hard with all the stop and goes. Though both favored different things, they both harked on the fact that it is a unique race where it is still about the team and not solely about the individual.
For the girls’ race it was also a race that came down to two teams and the anchor leg. After the first leg, (6:44 on the lead) it was Richard Montgomery and Walter Johnson followed five meters back by Bethesda who was forty meters ahead of Wootton who was another fifty meters ahead of Montgomery Blair. Though the race was spread out by this point, something very interesting happened after this second mile because a team that was not within one hundred meters of the lead was now in the lead, that team of course being Winston Churchill (13:27 at 2 miles) with Wootton (13:34) and Bethesda (13:37) trailing. After three miles and at the halfway mark it was Bethesda (20:25) and Churchill (20:42) dueling it out seemingly exactly as the guys’ race had only an hour earlier.
The trend would continue for another three Miles, where the anchor of Winston Churchill [pictured right] would make up ground each time she ran. The teams came through 4 miles at 27:17 and 27:30 with Churchill leading but after five Miles it was revered with Bethesda coming through at 34:28 and Churchill at 34:51. Though Churchill was 100 meters back at the exchange it was obvious that the anchor for Churchill wanted the win. She worked hard up the hills and was visibly gaining on Bethesda around the Golf course and by the time the teams had turned off of running parallel to Rockville Pike they were dead even and Churchill never looked back from there. Churchill powered home and won by almost seventy meters winning in a time of 41:14. Bethesda was second in 41:23 with early front-runner Wootton holding onto third place in a time of 42:24.