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Thousands run Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon

Sunday - 5/20/2012, 4:02pm  ET

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Alison Sweeney, host of TV's ''The Biggest Loser'' was the celebrity starter for the 5th annual Marine Corps Historic Half. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
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Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - It was a perfect day for a run Sunday morning in Fredericksburg for the 5th annual Marine Corps Historic Half. The weather could not have been better. The air was charged with energy as thousands of runners waited anxiously for the big start.

At 6:59 a.m., the wheelchair and hand-crank cyclists headed out. At 7:15 a.m. this year's celebrity starter for the 13.1 miler, Alison Sweeney host of "The Biggest Loser," fired off the starting pistol. Then she jumped into the sea of nearly 6,000 runners flooding the streets of the city.

Sweeney says she's honored to be a part of this especially since her dad is a retired Marine. She just beams when she says, "My dad is so proud of me for being out and supporting the Marines. And I'm excited."

Some call this race a warm up to the full Marine Corps Marathon in October.

For Lauren Lee, from Poolesville, Md., the half marathon is a training ground for the big one.

"This is my third half-marathon since starting my journey on "The Biggest Loser," she says.

Lauren and her mom, Gail Lee, were on "The Biggest Loser, a weight-loss reality show. They both lost nearly 90 pounds.

"Lauren got her life back and I saved mine," Gail Lee says. Lauren's mom and dad both did the Semper Fred 5K on Sunday.

Racers came from all across the nation and from nine different countries. But in the end Fredericksburg's own Bert Jacoby, 29, was the first one over the finish line with a time of 1:11:33.

His expected finish time was 1:12:00 but says, "I just wanted to win."

The third grade teacher at Lafayette Upper Elementary School says it's his second best race time for the half.

Courtney Chapman from Norfolk, Va. was the first female to finish with a time of 1:21:56.

She says she began running after losing her mother to cancer two years ago.

Charles Stalzer from Cincinnati, Ohio was the oldest runner at 84 years old.

Sweeney finished in 2:04:36, besting her anticipated finish time by 10 minutes.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)