The D.C. area is at the heart of some of the most beautiful and dynamic running routes in the country. The DMV is surrounded by scenic paths, urban gems, woodland trails, historical parks, lakes, and sprawling fields. But despite all that the area has to offer, many runners will time and time again repeat the same set of loops from their front door.
Vivian Smith is a cybersecurity consultant in Manassas. She does not want to fit the trend of running from home or work each day. She travels somewhere to run at least four days a week, even if that means driving only a minute or so to get there. “I’ll drive half a mile to a park so that I can enjoy more of my run in the park than on the shoulder-less road on the way to the park,” she said.
It’s a cool spring day as Vienna’s Ken Quincy finishes his 10 mile run on the WO&D Trail. There is no one around him on the trail, but that’s how he the 82-year-old likes it. The conditions are somewhat of a miracle, given how many runners and walkers have made use of the trail for exercise and a break from staying at home.
As he submits his time for this year’s virtual Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, he proves that age won’t stop him from running. Last year, among many, many races, he finished the Lucky Leprechaun 5k in 31:42
Having lived in Vienna since 1972, Quincy has been a noteworthy presence in the running community for decades. Originally from Colorado, he moved to the area to work for the FDIC after, as Quincy puts it, “[they] made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
He did not start running regularly until his mid-40s after a few unsuccessful attempts at getting introduced to the sport.
Finishing the For the Love of It 10K was special for Reston’s Kate Hutton. After having her first child eight months ago, she has taken her return to running slowly and cautiously, essentially re-starting her running career from scratch. She was finally capable of running more than six miles.
For her, pregnancy threw her fine-tuned body out of whack, far from the easy pregnancies she had heard about, and her initial goal of running as long as she could. And she’s not alone.
Vienna’s Pat Welch, 75, usually has the mornings to herself. She doesn’t have to go into work until 1:00 at her job at a chiropractic’ office, which means she uses the morning to run.
“I love a crisp cold sunny morning,” she said. “The colder the better.”
Welch first tried running back when she lived in Massachusetts, but it didn’t stick.
“I started running around the pond by the house,” she said. “Then I decided that’s not far enough, so I ran around it two times, and that was the last time I ran for years.”
In 1981, Welch moved to Vienna from her home in Massachusetts. Here, she was struck by the vibrant running community.
Tysons’s Chris Gellene, 58, spent his Easter Sunday differently than most. While families around the country were asleep in bed, Gellene was finishing up a 100-mile run sometime between 3:30 and 4 in the morning. But after some rest and a good night’s sleep, he says, “I got up the next day, it was Easter morning. I got and went about my Sunday.”
Originally signed up to run the Pistol 100-Miler in Tennessee, Gellene was worried when he learned that he would not be able to run the race. Gellene is no stranger to the 100-mile distance. The Pistol 100-Miler would have been his 12th.
“I trained for it and I was in shape and I’d run a lot of mileage,” he said.
When the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon, stripped of its permit in the face of D.C.’s state of emergency order, announced its postponement, it hit a lot of runners right as they were starting their tapers.
But not all were planning to wait for the Nov. 7 makeup date. They had a marathon on their calendars for March 28, and they were going to run a marathon on March 28.
Motivating high school runners is not always easy, even without a global health crisis going on. But with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, preventing kids from coming to school-sponsored organized practices or attending track meets, keeping high school runners motivated becomes an even greater challenge.
Anthony Belber, head track and field coach at the Georgetown Day School, anticipates that it will be weeks until the team can reunite in person, something he acknowledges is going to be difficult.
“[In not having our regular season], we are being tested at this moment in a way which might be far more substantial than in a championship meet. We are being asked to show just how strong we are,” he said.
This challenge becomes even harder for coaches in Virginia. Last week,On Monday it was announced that there will be no track and field season for the rest of the spring season in the state of Virginia. Maryland and D.C. schools and sports are on an open-ended suspension.
Gina DeGaetano is the head track and field coach at Riverside High School in Leesburg. She knows firsthand the difficulties that this announcement brings, but is trying to stay positive in light of the news.
“The news on Monday was not what any of us expected,” she said. “I hope we get back to track rather sooner than later. I miss it. I think it’s important to note that as much as the athletes miss it, we (the coaches) miss it too.”
When Arlington’s Elizabeth Briones crosses the Frosty 5K finish line, her time is nowhere close to what she ran in college. She has a smile on her face, though. As far as the last few years are concerned, it’s a personal best by well over a minute.
What matters is that she’s out there again.
Almost 18 years ago, she was about to leave on a physical and emotional journey that just recording a number of miles wouldn’t begin to document.
Bethesda’s Tom Kramer may not have run every single Marine Corps Marathon, but that’s only because he skipped the first one. From then on, 76-year-old Kramer has run 43 of the 44 Marine Corps Marathons, an achievement that has put his name in the Marine Corps Marathon Hall of Fame.
With 43, he moves into the lead for most Marine Corps Marathon finishes. He had been tied at 42 with Arlington’s Al Richmond, whose “Groundpounder” streak ended last year when he passed on running his 43rd. Donald Aycock of Fairbanks, Alaska and Steve Bozeman of Lynchburg have finished 42. Maureen Higgins of Perdidio Beach, Ala. leads the women with 32 finishes.
For some runners, completing the 44th Marine Corps Marathon is a grand achievement. For others it’s “just a Sunday”. There were thousands of different stories that involved crossing the finish line of the rainy 2019 Marine Corps Marathon, but here is just a small piece of the many stories that make up D.C.’s most prominent race.
Ben Nilsestuen, 37, of Brooklyn, ran the marathon in memory of his friend, James Brophy, who died in December in a Marine training accident. Nilsestuen was not alone in supporting the memory of Brophy. All of Brophy’s college roommates, his old friends from high school, and his wife, were out to support the Marine’s memory by running the marathon.
Nilsestuen is no stranger to marathon running. Though this is his first time running the Marine Corps Marathon, this was his 30th marathon overall. For him, he described running 26.2 miles as “just a Sunday.” What made this race special wasn’t the distance, but that it was the first time he ran to honor a friend.
“[The marathon] wasn’t really about racing. It was for a different purpose,” he says.