Catching Up with Bart Borghuis

Weissensee, Germany; Arlington, VA; Washington, D.C

For almost two months now, Bart has been living in northern Virginia. But his running heart belongs to Philadelphia. This is where he discovered just how much he loves this sport, and this is where he developed his skills. So we felt it was time to check up on our teammate and see how he is managing his hectic new schedule working at Janelia Farm.

At the beginning of May, Bart traveled to Europe for a short vacation with his new bride and his parents. While in Germany, Bart kept seeing fliers for an upcoming race. So Bart decided to test his strength across the ocean and lined up for the First of May, Weissensee Lauf 6k. Actually, Bart said that the race was somewhere around 6.3k, but that the race organizers didn’t seem concerned with certainty about this point, the course was indisputable: one loop around the lake.

At first, he said there was a small group of guys, and that a few looked quick. Bart recalled that “One looked a little heavy, but he wound up being the biggest challenge.” The man in question was a mountain runner – with strength to match. Thus, Bart’s advantage would be the fact that he is lighter and quicker. Bart won the race and ran the second fastest time in 33 years!

Bart was invited to a celebration afterwards in the town’s Schutzenhalle (hall with armor – think of Beowulf). Between the unusual race distance and the reception hall, this was definitely different from races that one would find in the U.S. The prizes wound up being different too, as Bart received a cup and a watch made by a local manufacturer. Victory certainly is sweet.

The very next weekend, Bart was back at it. This time, Bart ran “The Battle of the Boulevard”, a 10k in Arlington, Virginia, one of Washington DC’s many suburbs. The course started at the Pacers store (a running store in the D.C. area with a racing team), took the runners down to the Pentagon, and then back uphill to the start.

“I knew two of the guys from the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, where finished just seconds apart,” Bart explained. Taking the lead in a six man pack, Bart hit the first downshill mile in 4:53. His second mile was a 4:57. Then the runners hit the flats and the pace stayed steady. Bart slowed down some but kept close to the pack. As the runners made their way back on the loop, Bart found himself running stride for stride with frequent racer and Olympic Trials qualifier Michael Wardian. Bart eventually passed Wardian as well as Pacers’ Burt Rodriguez, keeping his eyes on the lead runner, Steve Crane.

Bart recounted that with two miles to go, he knew “first place was out of reach. But I kept pushing to the line to stay in front of the other Pacers athletes. It felt great to beat them on their own turf.” Bart scored a 10k road PR of 32:16 for second place.

The third and final race of Bart’s little circuit, the Capitol Hill Classic 10k was supposed to be on a fast course. But Bart said it was neither flat nor fast “at all.” The day was overcast and humid. But the course record holder (Berhanu Zeleeke) was present, so fast times seemed possible. There were four runners in the lead pack at the beginning, including Bart, as well as Robert Wade and Zeleeke. The latter two runners pushed hard away from the four-man pack. Bart knew that they were running a pace which, on this day, was too quick for him. “I tried to run my own race and PR.” Bart didn’t wind up setting a new PR from the one he set the previous week, but he said it was “fun to race in downtown Washington D.C., around Capitol Hill and all the buildings. I am trying to use these race to get sharper. I like this distance.”