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photo of Katarina Smiljanec finishingThe CRR Delaware Marathon Relay team roster changed from last year. Due to a schedule conflict, CRR Bill Farquhar was not able to run, and CRR Mark Deshon had gone into “relay retirement.” So, team captain CRR Bill Rose injected some “younger blood” into the team, recruiting newbies CRR Luke Nigro and CRR Katarina Smiljanec to join him and CRR Bruce Weber. This strategy paid off smashingly on April 28 in Wilmington, as the team turned in a stellar 2:49:23, winning the team competition by a mile (actually by more than three miles) and defending CRR’s relay championship from last year.

photo of Andrew WeberIn the Delaware Half-Marathon, though 39-year-old CRR Andrew Weber (no relation to Bruce Weber other than serious speed) was not able to repeat his championship performance of last year, he ran a faster time by 23 seconds and finished second overall (out of 785 finishers) in the Delaware Half-Marathon, in a time of 1:22:11. CRR Kevin McCooey ran a 2:05:11.

photo of 2019 CRR marathon relay team

2019 relay team—Bruce Weber, Luke Nigro, Katarina Smiljanec, and team captain Bill Rose

The brand new marathon course took advantage of the Jack A. Markell Trail. A bicycle rider accompanied the lead relay runner, and the CRR team led the entire way. Legs were not exactly equal, unlike previous years’ four-lap course, and the 1-2 exchange ended up being 0.3 mile farther than the course map indicated.

Leg 1 (Rose) was net uphill, leg 2 (Nigro) was net downhill, and legs 3 (Weber) and 4 (Smiljanec) were flat, each with a small rise/fall going past the DuPont Environmental Education Center at the south end of the Wilmington Riverfront. Legs 3 and 4 were scenic but rather lonely for Weber and Smiljanec over much of the route, out and back along the Markell Trail.

Here’s how Rose described the race:

photo of relay team with plaques

CRR relay team with their first-place plaques

By the time I handed off to Luke at about 6.3 miles, there were four (full) marathoner competitors ahead of me. Luke chased down three of them on leg 2, leaving only one runner ahead of Team CRR. Bruce put time between him and all the relay teams and marathoners behind him. Therefore, Bruce was the second runner to arrive at the 19.6-mile point (3-4 exchange), preceded only by the eventual (full) marathon winner, and 2:05 ahead of the next fastest runner.

Kat ran the final 6.6 miles in 40:21, which was 4:37 faster than any other runner on that leg, relay or full! She finished in 2:49:23. Kat’s run was [basically] a solo time trial, since she was out of sight of anyone going her way, ahead or behind. Somehow, the race organizers had not had time or forethought to set up a tape for her to break, so Wayne Kursh asked Kat to re-enact the finish-line crossing, this time breaking a tape.

Split times were as follows: Rose (44:36), Nigro (42:00), Weber (42:26), and Smiljanec (40:21).

The reward for CRR was a nice set of plaques and a free relay-team registration for next year!