FREDERICKSBURG, Va. --
Under blue skies, 5,973 participants completed the fifth Marine Corps Historic Half marathon May 20. This year marked the largest number of finishers for the 13.1-mile event.
The Historic Half is one of 11 events leading up to the 37th annual Marine Corps Marathon being run Oct. 28 this year.
Fredericksburgs own Bert Jacoby finished first overall running the course in 1:11:33, beating his own best time of 1:15:02, set at the 2008 Historic Half.
The third grade teacher at Lafayette Upper Elementary School addressed the crowds of spectators at the finish saying he was thrilled to see many of his young students out on the course cheering for Mr. Jacoby.
Courtney Chapman of Norfolk was the first woman to finish. Her time was 1:21:56.
I did the Historic Half because I knew it would make me stronger, and I did it because I wanted to support the U.S. Marine Corps, Chapman said.
She began running after losing her mother to cancer two years ago. Chapman says her mother was with her as she ran in Fredericksburg.
Marine Capt. Erin Demchko finished third with 1:29:02. She was also the top female finisher among 2,344 service members participating from all branches of the service. Another U.S. Marine, 2nd Lt. Nick Oltman, also of Fredericksburg, finished with 1:17:05 and received top military honors for the men. Both Oltman and Demchko received their awards from MCM sponsor, BAE Systems.
Lt. Col. Thomas Blackwell of Vienna finished with 1:19:58, the fastest time in the male masters category, for participants age 40 and over. Stefani Watterson of Alexandria finished the Historic Half in 1:33:41 becoming the top masters female.
Along with the Historic Half was the Semper Fred fun run, a 3.1-mile course through Fredericksburg meant for all ages and fitness levels, joined with the festivities of its larger counterpart.
Reuben Mwei a native of Kenya, broke the Semper Fred 5K course record finishing in 15:27, which was 32 seconds faster than the 15:59 record set by Omari Daughtridge in 2010. Molly Roohi of King George broke the Semper Fred 5K record for women, finishing the event in 19:03. Robin Anneman set the previous record of 19:37 in 2009.
Running the Marine Corps Historic Half and serving as the official starter, celebrity runner Alison Sweeney finished in 2:04:36. Sweeney is the host of The Biggest Loser and the daughter of a U.S. Marine.
Fredericksburg is such a beautiful area. It was a fun run, and you get such a real sense for the community, Sweeney said.
She added she was motivated by a high five from a Marine at a water point who simply stated, Alison, you got this. Sweeney topped her anticipated finish time by 10 minutes.
Overall, this years Historic Half gave the local community and beyond a chance to bond with the Marine Corps and celebrate the rich heritage of the nations premiere expeditionary fighting force, as well as preparing many runners for the Marine Corps Marathon later this year.