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Recovering from injury himself, defending champion Michael Wardian of Arlington, Va., led a field whose top ranks had been decimated by injuries to claim his fourth Lower Potomac River Marathon victory on March 10.

Wardian, 38, completed the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours 42 minutes 31 seconds, eight minutes slower than last year.

The ninth annual race, produced by Chesapeake Bay Running Club and hosted by the Paul Hall Center, had sold out a week before race day.

Joining Wardian at the top of the 200-runner field were three-time gold medalist John Piggott, former silver medalist Karsten Brown, two proven sub-three hour finishers and two hopefuls.

With Wardian still in the early stages of a comeback, the podium was open to surprises. Then, as race day closed in, four of those runners, including Piggott and Brown, canceled due to an assortment of injuries. The outcome was now more predictable.

“Coming back from serious injury has been a challenge,” said Wardian, a world class endurance runner and Olympic Trials qualifier. “I had five stress fractures and five hernias, and only started to run again near the end of January, but days like yesterday made it all worthwhile.

He added, “I ran pretty well, given that it was only my third run over 15 miles. I felt pretty strong throughout the event.”

Temperatures in the low 40s, clear skies and light winds provided optimal running conditions.

“I was very pleased to come back to Piney Point and race in what is becoming a rite of spring for me,” Wardian said. “I was so very happy to come away with the victory on a perfect spring day. The sunrise was incredible, and the weather was superb for running.”

Prolific distance runner Gary Krugger, 28, of Flagstaff, Ariz., trailed Wardian throughout the race to win the silver medal in 2:49:58. No one else would break the three-hour mark that morning.

Nearly 10 minutes passed before the bronze medalist entered the campus of the Harry Lundeberg School for the 200-meter sprint to the finish line. That turned out to be Brandon Demers, 23, of Leonardtown.

Racing his first marathon, he posted a strong finish of 3 hours and 53 seconds, becoming the first St. Mary’s Countian to finish in the top three. Demers is the current champion of the marathon’s companion fall race, the Lower Potomac River Ten-Mile Run.

Trailing Demers by less than a minute was Katie Ogden, 23, of Owings, also new to marathons. Ogden finished in 3:01:42, winning the women’s race.

“Overall, I am happy with how my second marathon went,” said Ogden of her victory. She had run 3:07:35 at the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon, her first. “I was aiming for three hours, and unfortunately, I fell a bit short of my goal. However, I’m excited I dropped my PR [personal record] from 3:07:35.”

She elaborated on her race: “I felt fairly strong throughout most of the course. During the first half of the race, I was, fortunately, with part of a small pack of runners who kept me motivated, and I focused on my pace. It was not until about mile 21 that I hit what all long distance runners dread — ‘the wall.’ Those last five miles or so consisted of a few gradual hills that truly tested my limits.

“The one thing that kept me going was mentally telling myself that every step I took would get me closer to the finish. It seems trivial now, but that small thought pushed me past the fatigue in my legs. I truly enjoyed the whole experience.”

Finishing behind Ogden for the silver medal was Charlene Smith, 29, of Mount Joy, Pa., in 3:15:03. The bronze medal went to Alicia Eno, 35, of Marion, Ark., who finished in 3:18:10.

Perry Rapp, 47, of Lexington Park was the top local finisher for the second consecutive year, beating his 2012 time by more than three minutes to win the Chesapeake Bay Running Club Champion award. He logged a personal best of 3:02:42.

Winning the women’s club championship was yet another newcomer to marathons.

Virginie Ternisien, 24, of Solomons, in her debut marathon and only her third race of any distance, ran an impressive 3:32:40, qualifying for the Boston Marathon with more than two minutes to spare.

Qualifying for the prestigious marathon is the goal of nearly all competitive marathoners. Very few make it on the first attempt, but Ternisien had company from another local runner. First-time marathoner Donald Balcom, 38, of Hollywood, finished in 3:08:42, well within the 3:10 requirement, and also won the 30- to 39-year-old age division.

Nicholas Wirz, 24, of Lexington Park finished in 3:15:16 for third place in the 20-29 age group. Charlene Staats, 50, of Lexington Park also placed third in her age group in 3:55:29 and qualified for a second Boston Marathon.

Although the marathon had its lowest number of sub-three hour finishers in its nine-year history, competition becomes tougher each year as runners come from farther afield to test their mettle at Piney Point.

This year’s field of 181 runners represented 33 states and Washington, D.C., Canada, England and Bermuda. The race benefits the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Chesapeake Bay Field Lab.

For complete results, go to www.cbrcmd.org.

Recto is the race director for the Lower Potomac River Marathon.