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Marathon Runners Face Off With Snow, Winds
OCEAN CITY - Blinding snow and frigid temperatures did not prevent hundreds of runners from all over the country from competing in last Saturday's 3rd Annual Ocean City Factory Outlets Marathon, which resulted in the familiar face crossing the finish line first.
A rare Easter weekend snowstorm blew through the area last Saturday morning and continued throughout the marathon, making conditions difficult for the hundreds of competitors. With strong winds blowing out of the north, the conditions were particularly harsh for racers in the full marathon, who trudged up the course's backstretch along Route 611 in West Ocean City into the teeth of the biting wind and blowing snow.
Nonetheless, the annual marathon featured hundreds of runners and their families and supporters descending on the resort area giving a boost to an otherwise mediocre holiday weekend. Of course, the focus of the event was on the marathon itself, but there were events related to the race all weekend and runners and their friends and families filled resort area motels and restaurants.
For the second year in a row, Michael Wardian of Arlington, Va. was the first runner across the finish line in the Ocean City Marathon taking first place in the men's division with a winning time of 2:41:20, nearly 15 minutes ahead of second place finisher Lee Cox of Paoli, Pa., who came in at 2:56:04. Wayne McDaniel of Hopewell Junction, N.Y. was third in the men's division finishing in 3:02:38.
Wardian's winning time last Saturday was about eight minutes behind his winning time last year when he came in at 2:33:20, which is impressive considering the wintry conditions and high winds this year. It was sunny last year at the beginning of the race, but it got cloudy and cooler as the day wore on making for great conditions for the marathoners.
With the Ocean City Factory Outlets as the main sponsor for the first time and Extreme Dream Events as the event's producer, the marathon was truly an Ocean City event again this year with competitors in the full- and half-marathon starting at the Inlet and traveling up the Boardwalk to North Division Street, where the course headed west across the Harry Kelley Bridge into West Ocean City. From there, the course meandered through West Ocean City to Assateague Island.
The half-marathon finished at Assateague, while competitors in the full marathon came back up the Route 611 corridor to the finish line at the Park and Ride in West Ocean City. The inaugural Ocean City Marathon was held entirely in West Ocean City with the starting and finish line at Sunset Grille for participants in all of the races.
While Wardian repeated as champion in the men's full marathon, there was a new champion crowned in the women's full marathon this year. Denise Knickman of Baltimore won the women's division in the first two Ocean City marathons, but she was replaced at the top this year by Conni Grace of Poughquag, N.Y., who finished the race in 3:00:56. Mary Zengo of Wilton, Conn. was second in the women's full marathon, coming in at 3:06:27, while Sarah Plaxton of Highlands, Mich. was third at 3:07:37.
In the half-marathon, it was Michael Sewell of Smyrna, Del. taking first place with a winning time of 1:21:02. Michael Bragdell of Colora, Md. came in second at 1:22:33, while Maurice Pointer of Baltimore followed 11 seconds later to take third place at 1:22:44.
Sherry Stick of Eldersburg, Md. took first place in the women's half-marathon with a winning time of 1:26:53, while Ingrid Berken of Lake Hiawatha, N.J. came in second at 1:35:05. Ocean Pines' own Kirsten Jones finished third in the women's half-marathon with a time of 1:35:40. Jones finished second in the full marathon last year.
Dozens of local runners competed in all of the events last Saturday including the full marathon, the half-marathon and the 5K race and all of them acquitted themselves well. The top local competitor in the men's full marathon was Timothy Uebel of Ocean City, who completed the 26-mile course in 3:33:39 to finish in 22nd place. Uebel finished third in his age group (40-44).
The top local finisher in the women's full marathon was Nicole Rittling of Ocean City, who came in at 4:53:20, which was good enough for 40th place. Rittling finished 6th in her age group (25-29).
Many locals competed and did well in the half-marathon. Among the top local finishers in the men's half-marathon were Mark Shipley of Ocean City, who finished in 33rd place overall at 1:43:21; Pete Pettenati of Ocean Pines (1:57:19) who finished 84th overall; John McLaughlin of Ocean Pines (138th), Tom Sheesley of Ocean City (141st), Jim Dickerson of Ocean City (148th) and David Swift of Snow Hill (184th).
The largest group of local runners competed in the women's half marathon with 10 racers from the area in the field. Kirsten Jones of Ocean Pines finished 3rd overall with a time of 1:35:40, while Theresa Moody of Berlin came in 12th at 1:42:41. Corrine Banks, Ocean City (1:47:16) finished 16th; Catherine Coffman, Berlin (1:49:48) finished 22nd; and Shannon Hohl of Bishopville (1:53: 52) finished 31st.
Other notable local finishers in the women's half marathon included Barb Wisniewski of Bishopville (94th); Jessica Cromer of Berlin (95th); Amanda Wainwright, Berlin (119); Alice Rakowski, Bishopville (122nd); Kristel Sheesley, Ocean City (155th); Kathy Geary, Ocean Pines (218th); Mary Jane Swift, Snow Hill (219th); and Margaret Regina, Ocean Pines (220th).