Washington, DC

Running Shorts

With the Virginia outdoor track season canceled, the District Track Club is sponsoring a competition for high school teams to compile their training and performances, and will hold three competitions where time trials will be scored against each other at the end of the month. Learn more here.  More detailed instructions are available here.

Arlington’s Mike Wardian ran 262.53 miles to win the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, a competition among runners completing 4.1667-mile loops every hour. He ran for 63 hours. More from Outside.

RunWashington contributor Kelyn Soong wrote in the Washington City Paper, where he is the sports editor, about people turning to running during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Name: Brian Kapur

Self-described age group: 31

Residence: Arlington

Occupation: Operations manager at a dental office and freelance journalist 

Why you run: I run for the physical and mental health benefits. It helped me reverse several health problems and lose 65 pounds. In addition, the thrill of pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible.

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New stay-at-home orders in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. carve out exceptions for outdoor exercise, which includes running. I’m sure I’m not the only person breathing a sigh of relief.

It’s up to runners to be responsible with this. In the grand scheme of things, running in a group isn’t as likely as most social activities to promote transmission of the coronavirus, but considering the ground runners cover, it’s a high profile activity that I worry could easily be seen as nonessential. It’s low-hanging fruit. And frankly, you should be doing everything you can to limit your exposure to other people.

Chicago closed its Lakefront Trail after it got too crowded. D.C. closed part of the Mall when people crammed the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms. The D.C. Parks and Recreation Department just closed all of its facilities. In France, you can’t run more than 1.25 miles (they call it 2 kilometers) from your home. It’s not runners tipping the balance in most of those places, but let’s not change that.

Most of the sidewalks and trails around here aren’t wide enough to accomodate two people running side-by-side with approriate distance between them (and six feet is the minimum distance you should keep from people, anyway). Heck, Beach Drive is barely wide enough for that, given all the people out there on weekends. Run alone for a while.

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Name: Rachel Clark

Self-described age group: 27

Residence: Logan Circle, DC

Occupation: Digital consultant

Volunteer roles in the running world: The occasional volunteer shift at one of DC’s parkruns.

Why you run: It’s been hugely important in maintaining my mental health. It’s one of the times when I do my most productive thinking about problems or opportunities at work or in life. And I love going on a long run and then being able to murder a brunch and call it “recovery.”

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No running group is good right now. Run alone for a while.

Most of the paved paths around here are barely six feet wide anyway.

If you’re on a single track trail and you have to pass people either way, stop for a moment and move off the trail so you keep each other at a safe distance.

Arlington County probably didn’t want to close its tracks and trails to group use, but it did so in hopes of limiting the spread of the coronavirus, so take that into account when you decide where to run, even if they can’t enforce those closures.

Nova Parks is closing its parking lots but not its trails. That would seem to cut down on crowding on trails by discouraging people who had to drive from visiting.

The National Arboretum, however, can close the gates, and did Tuesday afternoon.

I’m hoping by the time this is all over, I will have updated and upgraded our running group schedule and database, but for now, please don’t waste the sacrifices that people and businesses have made in the name of public health just for some company for a few miles.


Name: Thong Tran

Self-described age group: 41

Residence: Herndon

Occupation: Pharmacist

Volunteer roles in the running world: Volunteer with local groups such as Trottin Oxen and DC Capital Striders

Why you run: I currently run as an outlet to stress, anxiety and depression. But I started my current foray in 2015 when my cholesterol was through the roof. I signed up for my first and supposed one-and-done marathon, Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. 2016, to help me lose weight and get my labs under control (I’m no longer on any cholesterol medications!)

When did you get started running: I ran in high school, both cross country and track, at the suggestion of my 10th grade PE teacher.

Have you taken a break from running: After high school I really didn’t run until seven years ago, my coworker asked if I wanted to run a half marathon with her (Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. 2013). I signed up, she canceled lol. I remember getting to the point where the half and full split and thinking…those guys are crazy, I would never do that! Then I stopped running until my cholesterol labs came back bad!

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Diego Zarate was in Albuquerque for a job interview. 

He was hoping that, as one of 16 men who qualified for the mile at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships, he could make something good happen and bolster his chances at signing a professional contract this spring after graduating from Virginia Tech, a few years after winning the Maryland 4A title in the 1,600 meters while a junior at Northwest. But he never got his chance to show what he could do in the mile and 1,500 meters after both the indoor and outdoor championships were cancelled in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Preliminary rounds were due to start a day later. 

“It was a shock,” Zarate said. “Everyone was there to be the best they could be. I’m wondering ‘could I have won? Could I have been an All-American?’

“I want to run professionally, but it’s going to be difficult figuring everything out,” Zarate said. “The way the seasons ended for a lot of sports, it’s going to be messy.” 

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At long last, data from the 2019 runner rankings is complete. You have until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 19 to review your data and make sure the races you ran are reflected. If you see a discrepency, contact [email protected]. This is the only email address that will accept flagged discrepencies.

These races were ranked

These are the preliminary rankings


Cross country at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology wasn’t a glamorous sport, but Jonathan Phillips didn’t care. 

“Basically it’s a bunch of nerds doing the nerdiest sport,” he said. “I loved it, that’s what kept me on the team.”

His journey to 40th place at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials started in places like Mason District Park, where the Colonials would perform their team rituals, which are best left vague for the uninitiated, or shirtless snowball fights on cold days.

“There was a team culture that really drew me in,” Phillips said. “We were pretty good at running, and it was a sport that takes focus. 

“When I started running, there were a bunch of guys in the next grade and they really reached out to welcome us. A lot of those guys came down to Atlanta for the Trials.”

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