Missed exchange not costly to Falls Road

Brendle rallies his team to easy victory in relay

October 21, 2001|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

The fact that many runners were passing David Brendle, as he prepared to run the second leg of yesterday's Geico Direct Team Relay, wasn't much of a concern.

What did concern Brendle was that none of the runners happened to be his Falls Road Running Store teammate, Dex Dixon.

"It was real interesting, because I saw everybody going by, and I was like, `Hey, where's my teammate?' " said Brendle, a 35-year-old Baltimore resident.

Dixon, who ran the first leg of the race - four miles, missed the first exchange zone where Brendle waited, and was forced to retrace his steps.

The gaffe cost the Falls Road Running Store relay team several minutes, but it didn't cost the team the race. The team, consisting of Dixon, Brendle, Joel Brusewitz and Craig Morrell, who ran the final leg, coasted to victory on the 26-mile course with a time of 2 hours, 34 minutes, 56 seconds.

"We thought we had a chance to win because we had four good runners," said Brendle, whose team averaged a mile in 5:55. "We were probably 10 minutes shy of what our time should have been, but that's OK, because we still won."

Brendle reclaimed the lead for his team near the 13-mile mark, then gave way to Brusewitz, who ran the third stage, a 6.6-mile stretch, before handing the reins to Morrell, who was able to run the last 5.9 miles without much of a push.

"There was a lot of runners who were doing the full marathon ahead of us, and you try to focus on them and keep moving," said Morrell, 29.

Brendle probably had the most difficult task in doing so. Not only did he have to make up time from his team's early mistake, but he had to navigate the 9.7-mile second leg, a part of the course which was predominantly uphill.

"Northern Parkway was just the worst," said Brendle, who said that he concentrated on hitting 5:30-mile paces, and running his own race. "It was hilly the whole way, just a real bear."

The Howard County Runners Club earned second place in the relay, finishing in 2:41:34. Mark Jones, 40, ran the final leg, which was mostly downhill.

"I was hoping we might get 2:30, but the course started slow," Jones said. "It was a good course, very challenging. The pavement was pretty rough."

Jones had no chance of catching Morrell, who had nearly a two-minute lead and plenty of experience. Morrell has run several marathons, including the Boston Marathon in April, but chose to enter the shorter relay because he is still recovering from nerve problems in his foot.

Said Morrell: "I wasn't ready for a full marathon today, but this was good. It was a lot of fun, and it was nice to be a part of."

Relay results

1. Falls Road Running, York, Pa., 2:34:56; 2. Howard County Running Club, Columbia, 2:41:34; 3. MP5S, Dale City, Va., 2:44:51; 4. Team Godesky, Severn Park, 2:55:34; 5. Robert George, Woodstock, 3:01:05.

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