Washington, DC

Monumental Runner – Omar Ali

Name: Omar Ali

Self-described age group: 50-55 (but I’m on the very low end of this age group)

Residence: Kensington, Md.

Occupation: Clinical scientist for a small biotech company

Volunteer roles in the running world: I usually volunteer for various roles with my running club (MCRRC). Most of the time, you can find me working as a course marshal or serving food at the end of a race. My favorite role is handing out bibs to runners – it’s fun to see the excitement on people’s faces, especially if it’s their first race.

How has your running changed in the last six months: I usually run with the club’s Experienced Marathon Program (XMP) in the summer and the club’s Winter Trails program in the…well winter (and I really miss running with these groups). With nothing in the immediate future to train for, I’ve just been maintaining some base mileage. I’ve definitely gotten slower during the pandemic, which has been discouraging. But I figure I’ll regain the speed once I start training for a race again. The time off from training has forced me to get a little more serious with strength and cross-training, which I’ve always neglected.

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Running Shorts

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Canaan Valley Half Marathon, 10k & 5k

Join us for the 3rd Annual Canaan Valley Half Marathon, 10k & 5k April 24-25, 2021, in Tucker County, West Virginia in the heart of the Potomac Highlands. This road race takes place in one of the East Coast’s most

The Powerline Trail as it is best enjoyed, under cloudy skies, shortly after opening in October 2018. Photo: Charlie Ban

After years of dedicated planning and construction, Montgomery Parks opened the Powerline Trail, also known as the Pepco Trail, in October 2018.

The 6.8-mile trail, which kicks off from South Germantown Recreational Park in Germantown, Md. and terminates at North Potomac’s Muddy Branch Stream Park, marked the first use of power corridors for recreational use in Montgomery County. In my final days before shipping out for my freshman year of college, I decided to hit the trail to see if it would live up to the hype. 

The origins of the trail date back to 2015, when power companies Pepco and Exelon were nearing a merger. Dave Magill, the Maryland advocacy director for MORE (Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts), remembers first hearing of the possibility of including the construction of a trail as a condition in the merger.

“A bike advocate, whose name I cannot remember, was chatting with me and said, “you know, Pepco hasn’t been very good with allowing trails of any kind, whether bike or hikers, either on or even across their power lines. Maybe to get an approval, they’ll have to go before the public utility commission (PUC). This is an opportunity to intervene in the merger and ask for them to change their policy about trails. That idea really resonated with me.”

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Natalie Bardach, her iron levels back to normal, raced well at the Third Battle Invitational in 2018. Photo: Charlie Ban

It was seven months.

Seven months of torturous unknowing. Seven months of never-ending fatigue and sluggishness for George C. Marshall High School alumna Natalie Bardach. Seven months of doubt and disappointment. Seven months of just surviving a sport she had once thrived in, helping to win team conference, regional and even state titles.

For a high school athlete with only four years — twelve total seasons — of running available to them, seven months is 20 percent of their career. It feels like an eternity.

“I [didn’t] even know what to do anymore,” Bardach said. “I [was] training so hard and working so hard and I [was] not feeling any better. I was telling myself that it was my fault.”

For Robinson Secondary School alumna Seneca Willen, it was three months. A three month long agonizing descent from a freshman phenom who was running at the front of the pack to a slumping sophomore languishing in the back. Three months of “it’s all in your head” and wondering if freshman year was her peak.

“It was very sad,” Willen said. “I thought it was all mental and just thought, ‘I’m never going to get any better.'”

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Moonlight on the Falls Marathon

Join us for the Inaugural Moonlight on the Falls Marathon August 28-29, 2021 at beautiful Blackwater Falls State Park in Tucker County, West Virginia. Beat the summer heat and run with us under the stars and enjoy the perfect running temperatures

Name: Megan Schoffstall

Self-described age group: 30

Residence: Montclair, Va.

Occupation: Stay at home mom to four kids, part-time admin for Honorable Service Realty

How has your running changed in the last six months: I went from training for a mile on the track to training for a 50k!

Why do you run: To challenge myself

When did you get started running: I’ve only been running for two years. I started running after seeing my husband run his first marathon in Richmond in 2018. Seeing all the runners cross the finish line that day was so inspiring. I ventured out one evening with my sights set on four miles, not actually sure I would be able to make it back home. Well, I made it back home, and I’ve been running ever since.

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Running Shorts

  • Plans to repave and add a pedestrian bridge to the Rock Creek Park path will go forward starting in late February, after DDOT awarded a construction contract. Details include:
    • A pedestrian bridge to the south of the tunnel
    • Reconstruction of the “zoo loop” that had eroded into the creek several years ago
    • Repair of the retaining wall along Piney Branch Parkway
    • Various trail closures
  • Laurel resident Juliette Whittaker, who is a junior at Mount de Sales Academy, qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials in the 800 meters, running 2:02.7 at the Virginia Showcase last weekend, the third fastest time for a woman under 20 and a junior class record. She was also a member of the 4×800 meter relay team that set an under-20 world record 8:37.20 the next day.
  • The Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation is putting together a Bike and Pedestrian Network Plan to prioritize resources for bike and pedestrian improvements over the next five years. Comments, which you can make on the map, will be accepted until Jan. 22.
  • You know the drill about Keira D’Amato by now, she was a guest on the Six Minute Mile podcast.
  • Georgetown alumna Rachel Schneider and Heritage High School alumna Weini Kelati were guests on the 2 Black Runners podcast.
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You’ll never have a still enough day to see it quite that way, but the Potomac River is a mirror.

On one side, the C&O Canal Towpath, ranging from sandy with a few puddles to vast, flat and smooth, all the way to Cumberland.

Across the span, however, you’ll find the opposite — rugged, rocky and halting. The Potomac Heritage Trail. The name means a lot of things — primarily a network of trails flanking the river between the Potomac and Ohio river basins — but in D.C., it means the towpath’s sinister sibling.

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Boyds native Andrew Lent runs the Appalachian Trail section of the 2020 JFK 50 Mile. Photo: H3 Photography

Time moves differently now for Andrew Lent. 

Part of it is his age — he’s 21, and a minute, an hour, even a month exists on a broader scale than it did a few years before. 

But he’s also made new choices. Since he finished his high school career at Poolesville with a state runner-up finish in the 3,200 meters behind teammate Ryan Lockett, he’s now competing in situations where those same 3,200 meters can include two walking breaks, even on his way to a top-10 finish at the storied JFK 50 Miler.

“You can get a real second wind in ultra running,” he said. “It could take hours, but at some point, you usually come back around. 

“It amuses me that it can happen. You come from track and cross country where your race is about 15 minutes and if things feel bad, it’s not going to get much better. Now I’m in situations where an hour ago, you couldn’t fathom taking another step and all of a second you’re running even better than you had been.”

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