Bachman Valley Half Marathon

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Kartalia cruises to fourth straight win

By Kevin and MacKenzie Spradlin

WESTMINSTER, Md., Sept. 25, 2011 – Steve Kartalia has been running the Bachman Valley Half Marathon loop routinely for the past 33 years – longer than the race itself.

And seemingly, like him, it never gets old.

The former Olympic Trials qualifier at 10,000 meters and member of the national championship-winning Baltimore-Washington Athletic Club pulled out his fourth straight Bachman Valley Half Marathon win. In seven attempts, Kartalia, 46, also has two second-place finishes and one third-place finish.

“It’s a very good feeling,” Kartalia said of winning, “especially for me, because … this is my home course. I run these roads a lot. I love this race. I feel good when I win.”

Kartalia’s home – and that of his parents – sits at the corner of Old Bachman’s Valley and Beggs roads. Each year, at least a few members of his family stand at the bottom of his driveway and waive to not only him but the other 200 or so runners in the field. This tidbit has come to be a bit of a surprise to those not familiar with the race or of Kartalia’s ties to it.

This time, though, Kartalia himself was surprised. Along with his parents, wife and daughters, there also was “my sister and her family, nephews, my brother-in-law. That was very special.”

From the start, Kartalia’s only real competition was Karsten Brown, 37, of Front Royal, Va. Brown was within sight of Kartalia just two miles in. Six miles later, though, it was evident the win belonged to Kartalia. His lead over Brown had increased to about 90 seconds.

On a day when the competition isn’t his toughest opponent, Kartalia said the humidity was difficult to overcome.

“I feel like I’m going just as hard as I possibly can,” Kartalia told PhD Media videographer MacKenzie Spradlin. “By the end, I’m completely spent. I always like to push pretty hard. It was not necessarily a hard race in terms of battling for the win, but I pushed myself hard.”

While Kartalia’s victory seemed all but guaranteed from the start, Caroline Bauer’s win over every other female in the field came about in a very different manner.

Through two miles, Bauer wasn’t even among the top five women. But Bauer reported that, after about five miles, she was chasing only men. She started slowly on purpose, she said, as she is in training for a fall marathon.

“It was a good course,” Bauer said. “There were a lot of hills. It would have been nice to be a little cooler out. It was a good way to spend a Sunday morning.”

Rachel Walter, a proud member of the Maryland Army National Guard and coming off a recent performance in a challenging marathon in Hawaii, slipped from second to third overall in the final 2.1 miles. Still, Walter defended her female masters title.