OCEAN CITY – The 6th Annual Ocean City Half-Marathon and 5K races were a huge hit last week with a record number of participants, a beautiful course and a narrow window of near-perfect weather.
The blustery, drizzly conditions that prevailed for much of last weekend in the resort area held on long enough for a few hours on Saturday morning for the running of the annual half-marathon and 5K races produced by OC Tri-Running. The event began six years ago as a full marathon, but was shortened to a 13-plus mile half-marathon for the first time last year for a variety of reasons.
The change in format had little impact on the popularity of the event, and perhaps enhanced it as a record number of participants competed last weekend in both races. A total of 801 runners competed in the half-marathon and another 373 competed in the 5K. By comparison, last year’s event drew a total of 541 competitors, including 409 for the half-marathon and 132 for the 5K race.
Conditions were practically just right with partly cloudy skies and cool temperatures without much wind. More than a few participants said afterwards the toughest part of the course was the steep incline of the Verazzano Bridge just before the finish line at Assateague.
The conditions contributed to what is believed to be a course record for the half-marathon. Dan Swain, 18, of Baltimore, was the first runner across the finish line in an astounding 1:18:05, followed closely by Nicholas Pasko, also 18, of Bel Air, who finished in 1:19:38. By comparison, last year’s winner, Tommy Neeson of Virginia Beach, finished the same course in 1:22:42. Incidentally, Neeson won the first-ever full marathon in Ocean City six years ago and was first in the first-ever half-marathon two years ago.
Rounding out the top five overall finishers in the half-marathon were Thomas Stott, 27, of Columbia; Kevin Burcham, 38, of Colonial Heights, Va.; and Steve Moore, 30, of Baltimore.
Berlin’s own Melissa Denault was the top female finisher, coming in 18th overall, while Corrine Banks of Ocean City was the third female finisher, coming in at 27th overall.
Sean Rolleston of Berlin was the top local male finisher, coming in 26th overall in the half-marathon. Other local runners finishing in the top 100 in the half-marathon included Alyson Brabitz, Ocean Pines, (50th); Dawn Ehman-Marohl, Berlin, (51st); Mark Solito, Berlin, (58th); Ron Gossard, Ocean City, (67th); Travis Wilson, Ocean City, (68th); Tracey Sapia, Ocean City, (79th); Michael Franklin, Berlin, (84th); Matthew Morrison, Ocean City, (86th); and Diane Walsh, Ocean Pines, (92nd).
The 5K race, which also began at the Inlet and was run entirely on the Boardwalk, was also a big success with 373 competitors this year. For the record, Nicholas Mizurak, 17, of Monroe Township, N.J., was the top finisher, coming in at a quick 17:43. Brian Mullaney of Berlin was the top local finisher in the 5K, coming in eighth overall with a time of 21:52.