Ahmed Bile always looks so unperturbed when he’s running. His stride during races, even over the hilliest ground, looks effortless. His breathing is so well-controlled.
So when the Annandale senior bent over and vomited shortly after crossing the finish line in first place Saturday at the 38th annual Georgetown Prep Classic, the view was certainly jarring. How does someone with a reputation for relaxation suddenly turn so distressed?
“With runners, there’s the pukers and the non-pukers. I’m just a puker,” Bile said. “It might not always look like it on my face, but deep down it’s a hard effort.”
Bile, the defending Virginia AAA champion, snaked through the deceptively difficult 5K course on Georgetown Prep’s panoramic, manicured campus to earn his third victory this season. He used a hilly first mile that also featured a couple of hairpin turns to separate from the field and broke the tape in 16 minutes 35.9 seconds.
Churchill was the top boys’ team for the second straight year on a glorious day in North Bethesda. The Bulldogs were led by fifth-place finisher Will Conway and squeaked past Loyola Blakefield, Hereford and Wootton.
The girls from West Potomac remained unbeaten with a dominating performance over Hereford, Wootton and O’Connell. Senior Sarah Jane Underwood, the individual champion in 19:44.2, led the way for the Wolverines and just 28 seconds separated their second scorer from their fifth.
Roughly 2,000 runners from 80 schools attended the meet, which featured nine different races and had a carnival-like feel.
Music pumped through speakers set up near the finish line. Vendors sold gelato. Pacers and New Balance made the Georgetown Prep Classic the marquee event on their five-stop tour of high school cross-country meets in Virginia, Maryland and the District, and donated bibs and timing chips for the races and gave away brightly colored sunglasses, T-shirts and shoelaces.
It wasn’t the first time that Bile, an All-Met selection and Foot Locker finalist a year ago, had some trouble after finishing a race. After winning the region title in the 1,600 in 4:12.56 last spring, he walked off the track and immediately threw up in a nearby garbage can.
The 18-year-old said he sees himself as more of a half-miler than a distance runner, so he limits his mileage during the cross-country season to no more than 40 miles per week, far fewer than what many distance runners do. So when he pushes his body hard during 5Ks, it takes a big toll.
“I really started to feel it in the last mile,” Bile said. “I had a few gears left at the end, but when I saw what kind of lead I had I just wanted to keep it controlled