Louis Levine had barely cleared the starting line at Sunday’s Frederick Half-Marathon before he established himself as the front-runner—and eventual overall winner—of the race.

Levine, a 2014 graduate of Thomas Johnson High School, cruised to an easy win in the featured event of the 17th annual Frederick Running Festival.

Now living in Baltimore, Levine crossed the finish line in front of the grandstands at the Great Frederick Fairgrounds in 1 hour, 12 minutes, 9.04 seconds.

Heavy rains at the start and finish did not faze the experienced runner and early favorite in the half-marathon, which featured a starting field of 3,700 runners.

“It certainly didn’t help,” Levine said of the bad weather. “It was going to rain, regardless of what I wanted. So, there was nothing I could do about that. It was just something I had to deal with.”

Levine’s win was the first part of what was going to be a sweep of both the men’s and women’s divisions by former county athletes.

Annie Noffsinger, a 2014 graduate of Middletown High School, now residing in Portland, Oregon, was the overall women’s winner, finishing ninth overall in the race (1:24:13.2). Her win extends the streak of former county residents winning the women’s title to four years.

Stephanie Reich, a former Frederick News-Post Runner of the Year, now living in Columbia, had been the three-time reigning women’s overall champion. She was out of town this year and was unable to compete in the half-marathon.

With both reigning champions out of this year’s race (Billy McManus was last year’s overall winner), the field suddenly became wide open, with two new champions to be crowned. Within the first minute of Sunday’s race, this one was already all but decided.

Levine, after about the first quarter-mile of the race, pulled away from the rest of the pack. By the time he turned the corner at East Patrick and East Streets, he was all by himself, nearly passing the escort car several times during the race.

Even Daniel Jacobs, the eventual runner-up (1:14:36.31), was well out of contention within the first five miles.

“At the end of the day, it’s just a race,” Levine said. “We’re all out here to test ourselves. That’s what I came here to do. When the gun went off, I went at my own pace. It just happened to be nobody came with me.”

Levine, 22, said it was a fair course with a lot of great scenery to look at, even while concentrating on winning the race. “It loops all the way around the city,” he said. “Very nice. You get to see a lot of the city. It’s got some rolling hills, but overall, it’s a great course.”

Levine’s already planning to run in the Baltimore Marathon in a few weeks. “I’m not quite sure what I’m going to be doing in the fall, but I’m definitely going to keep racing,” he said. “I’m definitely coming back for the race here in Frederick. Always great to come back.”

For Noffsinger, 22, this was her first Frederick Half-Marathon. She and he mother, arrived in Frederick on Saturday, from Portland, for this event.

Noffsinger came into this race with no expectations. She was also pleased with her time.

“The weather was terrible, but I also approach a race with a good attitude,” Noffsinger said. “The rain will cool us all off. At least, it’s not really hot. You just try and make the best of it.”

Noffinsger set a steady pace, eventually pulling away from women’s runner-up Claire Heasman, of Frederick (1:26:26.59). She took the lead about a mile and a half into the race.

Noffsinger plans on returning next year to defend her title.

“I’m looking to do another half-marathon next month,” she said. “Then, hopefully, a full marathon by July or August.”

Clark Seniff was third overall (1:19:14.13). Drew Landgren was fourth (1:20:22.9). Joseph Dimarino got fifth (1:21:43.51).

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