GRC End-of-Year 2023 Awards

Men’s Team MVP

Zack Holden

Zack began 2023 as a promising but raw developmental runner, and ended it as a national class athlete. The highlight of Zack’s remarkable year was his 2:16:54 at the Indy Marathon, which is seventh on the GRC all-time list, and qualified him for the 2024 Olympic Trials. Zack’s superb performance at Indy capped off a year of major PRs at a wide variety of distances. Zack spent the spring working on his short game, and despite having no experience on the track beyond high school he ran excellent times at 5000 (14:26.52, eighth on all-time list) and 10,000 (29:57, tenth on all-time list). On the roads Zack ran an outstanding 48:53 at Broad Street, which is fourth on the all-time list. After a great summer of training Zack ran a PR of 1:06:21 at DC Half in September in a tempo effort. Zack got on the startling line at Indy fully expecting to qualify and he executed his race plan perfectly, thereby completing his transformation from club runner in college to post-collegiate star, only two years after graduation. Zack’s ceiling is extremely high, and he will continue his rapid ascent in 2024 and beyond.

Women’s Team MVP

Elena Hayday

In 2022 Elena had the best year by a woman in GRC history, and for an encore she outdid herself with an even better 2023. Elena started the year in spectacular fashion by running 1:11:33 at the Houston Half Marathon, which broke her own GRC club record, qualified her for the 2024 Olympic Trials Marathon, and was the twenty-eighth fastest time by an American in 2023. Elena raced sparingly in the spring but made it count when she did, breaking her own club record at 10 miles by running 53:54 at Broad Street. It all came together for Elena at Grandmas Marathon in June where she ran a phenomenal 2:30:51, which was a club record, another OTQ, and was the twenty-sixth fastest time by an American in 2023. Before starting her buildup for the Trials Elena focused on shorter races in the fall, and her 33:30 at the Boston 10k for Women was a huge PR and yet another club record. Elena closed out her amazing year by finishing an outstanding tenth place at Clubs XC, which is second on the GRC all-time list. Elena will continue to blaze new trails for GRC athletes in 2024, both on the roads and the track.

Men’s Team Newcomer of the Year

John McGowan

When John joined GRC in August the plan was to take a shot at qualifying for the Olympic Trials Marathon at CIM. That seemed like a reach goal given that in his only previous marathon John ran 2:30:32. But after two weeks of workouts it was apparent that not only was an OTQ realistic, John was so fit that he would be ready to take a shot at Indy in October. John confirmed his fitness by winning the DC Half in a solo 1:05:48, which was a huge PR, and is tenth on the GRC all-time list. It didn’t go as planned at Indy, however, and after being on pace through 23 miles John struggled the last 5k and finished in 2:18:37, which was a enormous PR but agonizingly short of the OTQ standard. After a brief recovery period John got back on the horse, ran a few excellent workouts, and got on the line at CIM fully confident that the second time would be the charm. John punched his ticket to Orlando with an excellent 2:17:28 which was another PR, and puts him eighth on the all-time list. John won’t have a lot of time to get ready for the Trials, but he will give it all he’s got in Orlando.

Women’s Team Newcomer of the Year

Anna Kenig-Ziesler

Anna graduated from the University of Chicago in 2023 as a four-time All American, and her potential for development was clear because she is a converted soccer player who ran college track for only three semesters. It didn’t take long for Anna to demonstrate that she has a bright future at the longer road distances. In her 10 mile debut Anna got the win at Annapolis in a controlled 1:01:08 on the hilly course in hot and humid conditions. In her half marathon debut Anna won the DC Half in an excellent 1:16:46, which is eighth on the GRC all-time list. In her marathon debut in Chicago Anna ran an outstanding 2:43:53 despite making some rookie mistakes that cost her at least two minutes. Anna recovered quickly from Chicago, and four weeks later she got the win at the USATF Potomac Valley Association XC championships. Anna ended her season by placing an outstanding twelfth at Clubs XC, which is third on the all-time list. Anna is just getting started, and she will be a force to be reckoned with on the track, roads, and in XC in the months and years to come.

Nina Brekelmans Award

Tom Slattery

When Tom joined GRC in 2021 it was clear that he would be a major contributor to the team. Tom wasted no time showing what he can do—in the spring of 2022 he ran 48:58 at Cherry Blossom, which is fifth on the GRC all-time list. After a great fall of training Tom qualified for his second Olympic Trials Marathon by running an outstanding 2:15:32 at CIM, which was a big PR, and is second on the all-time list. In 2023, Tom fulfilled his life-long goal of competing in the elite section of the New York Marathon. Tom’s contribution to GRC has not been limited to running fast. In addition to being the leader of the marathon OTQ crew Tom has been eager to share his knowledge and experience with his teammates, and he has demonstrated in word and deed the commitment it takes to reach the national class level. Off the track, Tom is an officer in the Coast Guard, and he has dedicated his professional life to serving others. Tom’s growing family will cause him to adjust his priorities after the Trials but his impact on GRC and his teammates will endure.

Lauren Woodall Roady Award

Charlie Ban

Charlie has been the heart and soul of GRC for many years, so much so that it’s hard to imagine the team without him. His impressive list of PRs includes 25:19 for 8k, 53:22 for 10 miles, and 1:10:10 in the half marathon. Charlie is now a national-class masters athlete, and finished third in the 2023 USATF Masters National Grand Prix Series. It’s impossible to recount all of the ways Charlie has contributed to GRC, but they include spending several years on the GRC board, serving as the unofficial team historian, and acting as a mentor, trusted confidant, and sounding board for a countless number of teammates. Beyond GRC, Charlie is widely known as a DC running celebrity. Charlie continues to serve the greater DC running community as the Editor-In-Chief of RunWashington, where he devotedly covers the regional running scene. Charlie has been so prolific as a writer that many people assume RunWashington is his full-time job when in actuality Charlie works long hours in his position with the National Association of Counties, while also running 80+ mile weeks. Charlie is a fitting recipient of this award because he was close to Lauren, and was deeply affected by her death. Charlie has stayed connected to Lauren by travelling frequently to and running in Cades Cove, an area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that was special to Lauren.