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by Andrew Gates August 30, 2018 at 12:02 pm 0

Nicole Mancini (in foreground) poses with her NOVA cross country runners. Photo: Nicole Mancini

Starting a team from scratch is not easy, but for one local runner, it is a challenge worth doing.

Nicole Mancini may have had a short tenure as a cross country athlete, only competing for two years in college before switching over to marathon running, but her love for the sport is as strong as ever. Originally from Michigan, Mancini moved to northern Virginia in 2006 to work at Brentsville District High School in Nokesville.

With her running background, Mancini was an assistant for Rob Dulin for several years. But everything changed when Patriot High School opened nearby in 2011. Staff at Brentsville split between the two schools, and many coaches chose to go over to Gainesville Middle School rather than go through starting a new athletic program from the ground up at Patriot.

After a brief time at Gainesville, Mancini eventually took a professor job at the Manassas campus of Northern Virginia Community College. At the time, there was no cross country program there. To Mancini, that seemed somehow wrong.


by Sophie Tedesco August 28, 2018 at 12:50 pm 0

The 2017 Third Battle Invitational. The flat course in Winchester and typically-lower temperatures give teams a mid-October chance to run really fast. Photo: Charlie Ban

It’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Music blaring from a DJ breaks the sleepy stillness of the open field. Underneath the foggy haze of a fall morning, hundreds of high school runners are awake and ready. A mass of bodies squish together along the line, experiencing the thrill of adrenaline, nerves and anticipation.

And then the gun goes off. All you can hear is the tidal wave of cries from spectators and random cowbells clanging. The race is a blur of hills and turns and ups and downs. Sand and mud and grass.

And then it’s over. Runners stagger across the finish line; many collapse into the waiting arms of volunteers. The music is still pounding; the finish line announcer is calling out names and times. What began as a competition, intense and focused, takes on the air of a festival. Athletes wander around searching for food and friends. No longer competitors, racers from all different schools come together to hang out and enjoy the amenities.


by Dustin Renwick August 27, 2018 at 12:28 pm 0

Dustin Renwick brought his morbid curiosity and his camera to a taco mile held Aug. 26 at Kenilworth Park.

Camilla Stone, 5 years old, led the way in the Family Taco Mile. Participants running in the Family or Fun heats ate one taco at the end of one mile.


by Charlie Ban August 23, 2018 at 12:25 pm 0

Cover photo: Marleen Van den Neste

Our 2018 cross country issue includes stories about the historic Burke Lake course, schedule building, managing extracurriculars with running, West Springfield coach Chris Pellegrini and more! Click through to read the magazine online. This will, however, be our last print edition because we are going online only from here on!


by Sarah Beth Hensley August 22, 2018 at 11:36 am 0

Dorothy Beal runs the 2018 Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon.

Dorothy Beal didn’t know quite how important running would be to her.

Not only has the 36-year-old run 36 marathons in 15 years, but she has turned the hobby into a blog and social media campaign that inspires runners and promotes a positive body image — and turned the ventures into a business and brand that reaches thousands.

The Leesburg mother of three ranks on “must follow” social media lists for runners and reaches thousands through her blog as well as on Instagram and Twitter through her “Mile Posts” and “I Have A Runner’s Body” accounts. She recently reached 100K instances where “#ihavearunnersbody” was tagged on Instagram. Her Mile Posts account chronicles much of her life and running journey; I Have a Runner’s Body is more of a body positivity account showcasing runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities.

But running hadn’t always been a part of her life.


by Charlie Ban August 21, 2018 at 12:20 pm 0

Front row: Jessica Trezciak, Jenna Goldberg, Nandini Satsangi, Chase Kappeler, Sarah Coleman, Senca Willen, Julia Ghiselli, Ellie Desmond, Bethany Graham. Back row: Kevin Carlson, Sam Affolder, Obsaa Feda, Jacob Hunter, Max Greczyn, Jack Leech, Edward Cerne, Gavin McElhennon, Garret Suhr Photos: Ed Lull unless otherwise noted

Look to the left, then to the right.

Everyone on this starting line started crawling and somehow ended up here, in a pair of spikes.

Some found their niche after trying other sports. Others found their identity as a runner in their parents or siblings’ path. A few became runners out of dumb luck. 

When I was your age, they would say we could become front runners or kickers, that is to say, you could be a runner since you could walk, or you just took it up a few years ago.

Today, what I’m saying to you is, when you’re facing a loaded starter’s pistol – what’s the difference?


by Charlie Ban August 21, 2018 at 12:16 pm 0

General area of the August Metropolitan Branch Trail attacks.

  • Police patrols have increased and overgrown trees have been trimmed around the Metropolitan Branch Trail following two August evening attacks on the trail by groups of assailants.

The Washington Post reports a runner was punched in the face Aug. 15 and surrounded by five suspects, who took the runner’s phone. On Aug. 11,  four robbers, one with a knife,  surrounded the victim, taking a phone and $30.

Both incidents occurred at the north end of the trail before it reaches Edgewood Street NE, near the Dew Drop Inn, and both happened around 8:45 p.m.

  • WTOP reports that a man attempted to abduct a woman running on a trail near 8351 Stonewall Road in Manassas Aug. 18 at 9:38 a.m.


by Charlie Ban August 17, 2018 at 12:22 pm 0

Name: Aaron Richards

Self-described age group: Late 20’s

Residence: Springfield

Occupation: Defense contractor

Volunteer roles in the running world: I volunteer as a coach for Saturday morning runs with the National Capital Area Chapter’s Team In Training group.

Why you run: Because it’s a great way to challenge myself. I saw running as a punishment when I played baseball and basketball in high school and college. Now I find running as a way to compete with others, better myself, and find time to unwind after a stressful day. I also run because not everyone has the luxury of being able to wake up every day and go for a run. I want to take advantage of that gift before I’m too old.


by Beth Roessner August 16, 2018 at 11:58 am 0

Runners scarf down their wraps at the 2018 Montgomery County burrito mile. Photos: Marie Saadeh

Grab the tortillas but hold the sour cream — Washington, D.C. is getting its first taco mile.

Organized by November Project DC, and in partnership with the D.C. Parks and Recreation Department, the Aug. 26 taco mile challenges runners to eat tacos before running a quarter mile. And then again. And then again… And then again. It’s an all-ages alternative to a beer mile, one that can be sanctioned on public property but still tests runners’ digestive discipline.

Participants can choose their own running-and-taco adventure. The Fast Taco Mile challenges runners to eat a taco and run a lap, repeating the process three times. Although runners are racing the clock, it may feel more like racing their stomachs. They can opt to run four laps and eat a taco, completing the Fun Taco Mile. There is also a family-friendly race open to strollers and runners of all ages. District Taco will furnish the food, with other support from Shake Shack.

“Every now and then you need something refreshing, something more interesting and will bring out a unique and niche crowd,” said Jason Millison, interim communications director for the parks department.



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