Beach Drive would reopen to through traffic after Labor Day under a proposed plan by the National Park Service, which has mostly closed the road since April 2020 to allow for more room for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NPS is accepting comments until 11:59 p.m. Thursday Aug. 11 on its plan, which would formalize weekday closures between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That would increase the existing policy to close the 4.2-mile stretch on weekends and holidays, but rolls back what had been a nearly-2.5-year closure to allow for more physical distancing during the pandemic. That closure has allowed for a dramatic increase in daily use by runners, cyclists, walkers and more.
“Like many throughout the community, we think NPS should reconsdier reopening upper Beach Drive to cars to maintain an important trail connection through Rock Creek Park throughout the year,” said Kalli Krumpos, manager of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Capital Trails Coalition.
The pandemic and subsequent road closure followed just months after the completion of a three-year, $33 million project to completely rebuild 6.2 miles of Beach Drive between the Maryland line and the bottom of Shoreham Drive. The preference comes despite support from both the D.C. and Montgomery County councils to continue the closure.
“In this decision, we were really trying to strike a balance,” said Rock Creek Park Superintendent Julia Washburn, “to create equity for the various people who need and want to use the road.”
Describing the decision as multi-layered, she cited concerns that increased park use over the last two years had bled into forested areas, where users created their own trails, often with unleashed dogs. Users had notably created pathways between 16th Street NW and Beach.
“We have seen a vast increase in the social trails or basically off-trail use of the park and an increase in dogs off leash in that part of the park throughout the year, so we’re hoping with having the road part of the time open to vehicles during a lot of the year, that may hopefully lead to a decrease of the impacts that we are seeing to the forest and to the habitat,” Washburn said during a July 18 meeting.
Allowing greater pedestrian use during the summer months would coincide with when the vegetation was thickest, discouraging the formation of social paths.
Washburn also recounted concerns that closure to motorized traffic limited enjoyment of the park by users with mobility concerns.
Although the 4.2-mile stretch of Beach Drive was initially closed entirely to traffic, NPS opened portions of the road north of Joyce Road to allow for access to various picnic areas. A total of 2.7 miles of Beach, along with the entirety of Ross Drive and Sherill Drive, are closed to traffic, with sections of 0.6 miles, 0.5 miles and 1.6 miles of Beach Drive closed.
Though NPS considered closing one lane of Beach Drive to allow for non-motorized use, those plans were dismissed out of safety concerns and limitations posed by park police staffing levels.
Washburn stressed that the plan was dynamic and subject to change,
“We’ll be reevaluating at certain times and we have the option to create a different management alternative in the future based on how everything is going,” she said.
However seriously NPS has taken concerns about social trail formation, little to no signage discouraging that behavior has been on display in and around Rock Creek Park over the last two years.
- The “zoo loop” on the Rock Creek Trail is nearing completion, with work potentially being done by the end of July.
- The current plans for the pedestian expansion of the American Legion Bridge include a ramp to the C&O Canal Towpath but not MacArthur Boulevard.
- Oakton and American University alumna Keira D’Amato has been named to the U.S. marathon team for the World Track and Field Championships, following Molly Seidel’s injuray withdrawal. The women’s marathon is Monday, July 18 at 9:15 ET. She’s also opening a Potomac River Running store in Richmond.
- Arlington County is accepting feedback on the Arlington Boulevard Trail through Tuesday, July 5.
- Georgetown alumna Emly Infeld made the U.S. world championships team in the 5,000 meters with her third place finish at the USATF Championships.
- Laurel resident Juliette Whittaker, who sent the national high school record in the 800 meters in 1:59.04, winning the U.S. U20 championships and making the world team, was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Outdoor Track for Maryland.
- Georgetown’s Lucas Guerra made the U.S. U20 world championships team in the 3,000 meters.
- Washington Latin alumnus Luke Tewalt, racing for Wake Forest, made the U.S. U20 world championships team in the 1,500 meters.
- Aaron Yoder, world record backward mile holder, will compete in the U.S. Backward Running Track Championship July 9 at Edison High School.
- Arlington’s Mike Wardian finished his cross-country run to Delaware from San Francisco to raise money for World Vision.
- St. John’s junior Meredith Gotzman was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Outdoor Track for Washington, D.C.
- The Rock Ceek path has reopened between Shoreham Drive and P Street, and the tunnel through the I-66 bridge south of the Kennedy Center has opened.
- Three Trials Fever patients will experience relapses in 2024, thanks to their races at Grandma’s Marathon, which qualify them for the Olympic Trials. Reston resident and Falls Chuch native Susanna Sullivan was third in 2:26:56, Thomas Jefferson alumnus Johnny Phillips ran 2:14:10 and Centennial alumnus Brian Harvey ran 2:17:40.
- The Road Runners Club of America recognized Arlington County was recognized as a “Runner-Friendly Community.”
- A handful of local distance runners will be competing in the USATF Championships and the USATF U20 Championships this weekend in Eugene, Ore.
- In the 800 meters, the District Track Club’s Vincent Crisp and Georgetown alumna Sabrina Southerland.
- In the 1,500 meters, Georgetown’s Matthew Payamps and Jack Salisbury and Georgetown alumna Josette Norris.
- In the 5,000 meters, Chantilly alumnus Sean McGorty, the District Track Club’s Willy Fink, Heritage alumna Weini Kelati and along with Norris, Georgetown alumnae Emily Infeld and Katrina Coogan.
- In the 3,000 meter steeplechase, Tuscarora alumnus Fitsum Seyoum.
- In the U20 meet, Laurel resident Juliette Whittaker will run the 800 meters.
- Washington Latin alumnus Luke Tewalt will run the 1,500 meters, for Wake Forest.
- Georgetown’s Lucas Guerra will run the 3,000 meters.
- In the 3,000 meter steeplechase, Colgan alumnus Bryce Lentz, running for the Air Force Academcy, and Oakton alumnus Garrett Woodhoouse, running for Utah State.
The only thing better than running 50 miles through D.C. with four friends on an unseasonably cool June day? Running 60 miles with nine friends.
In its second year, the Chocolate City Relay grew both in length and depth June 11, adding a second team of Black women traversing the city in a DIY relay and throwing in a little competitiveness along the way.
“I work in D.C., but I live in Maryland, so I’m not running around here too much,” first-year runner Yodit Tefera said of the Northeast neighborhoods she had just finished running. “Everything is pretty new to me, so I’m getting to know more neighborhoods.”
On top of the 10 women hitting the roads, two drivers and two bicycle guides supported the runners along the way, along with friends along the course and waiting at the Hains Point finish to cheer on all of the runners sharing the 24th leg.
Dira Hansen watched from afar the last year and hoped to take part.
“When I saw them finish last year, I thought it was awesome,” she said. “So I kind of Insta-stalked them and hoped they’d do it again and invite me.”
They invited her, and she added a competitive element to a lineup that pitted newcomers against the veterans. The newcomers touted Hansen’s sub-three-hour finish at the Shamrock Marathon in March and helped her warm up with some strides along Mt. Olivet Road NE before she took the handoff and sped down West Virginia Avenue NE.
Though the teams — veterans in blue, rookies in pink, started together, before too long, competitive instincts took over and turned the event into a cat-and-mouse game, aided somewhat by a drizzle that kept drivers off the road and opened some road crossings faster than usual.
Though all of the runners participate in traditional races, veteran runner Alison Staples noted, the event generally takes on a more community-based, cooperative effort, and PRs take a back seat.
“This is more special because we put it together, the support team has volunteered to come out and help,” she said. “It’s been incredible for sisterhood, enjoying each other’s company and celebrating that we are all healthy enough to run.”
Staples moved to D.C. from Baltimore in 2021, and after striking up a social media friendship with Brittany Greene, Greene recruited her into the inaugural relay.
“There were a lot of women doing amazing things, but we didn’t all necessarily cross paths in our worlds, so finding a way to bring everyone together in a way that amplifies our stories was important and gets people into new areas exploring D.C.,” Greene said.
She mapped out a course that crossed all eight wards of the city, but added roughly 10 miles in Ward 8, in Southeast D.C.
“We tried to use rec centers and schools as landmarks, to give people a framework for what’s in D.C.,” she said. “We wanted to add a level of challenge, and the ladies were up for that, so everyone got some more hills.”
In addition to the 10 runners, five planned to complete a virtual relay. After gas and supplies were paid for fundraising went to Girls on the Run programs, where a several relay runners volunteer as coaches.
In between legs on the rookie team, Courtney Carter marveled at the way Greene and her friends made the event happen
“To have this home-grown, locally-created relay that’s doubled in size and to get to do this with these amazing women and our support, it’s super meaningful, it’s super dope, and people are excited about it.
“It means a lot, we all know how important representation is and we know that we need more of it in the running space. And it’s just a way of claiming space, and I’m a fan of that.”
A man riding a white moped harassed a woman running in the National Arboretum and another cycling on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in the afternoon and evening June 10.
He was described as a stout black man appearing to be in his mid-20s, wearing a mask, black pants and a black sweatshirt with the word “impress” in white lettering.
Around 2:30 p.m., he approached a woman running on Azalea Road in the arboretum near its southern intersection with Eagle Nest Road, dismounted the moped, presented a condom to her and after she refused his advances, moved on ahead, while continuing to look back toward the runner. He passed the runner again while she was returning to the visitor’s center.
Around 6:30, he tailgated a cyclist heading south on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail near the Bladensburg Waterfront, blocked the trail’s exit to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and started masturbating in view of the cyclist. After she biked away, he briefly chased her on the moped, then drove by and waited at the trail’s intersection with Deane Avenue.
- Georgetown’s Parker Stokes led local distance runners at the NCAA Championships with his third place finish in the 3,000 meter steeplechase in 8:18.88. Colgan alumnus Bryce Lentz ran 8:52.33 in the semifinals for the Air Force Academy.
- Georgetown had two women’s 10,000 meter finalists: Charlotte Dannatt finished eighth in 33:26.78 and Maggie Donohue finished 13th in 33:42.99.
- Patriot alumna Rachel McArthur ran 4:21.15 in the semifinals for Colorado.
- Howard’s 4×400 meter team of Jessika Gbai, Ameenah Saalih, Ozioma Scott and Jessica Wright finished sixth in 3:28.39.
- Our long, regional nightmare is over – the Riley’s Rumble Half Marathon will return to the Maryland Soccerplex after a year in exile to the C&O Canal Towpath, albeit its original course.
- Yorktown’s Anna Macon Corcoran, Herndon’s Gillian Bushee and McLean’s Thais Rolly all came away from the Virginia state meet’s 6A classification with titles in the 800 meters (2:14.22), 1600 meters (4:54.92) and 3200 meters (10:26.36) respectively. West Springfield completed the local distance sweep by winning the 4×800 relay in 9:16.16 with a team of Lexi Stein, Kenza Elakari, Chloe Miller and Aidan MacGrath.
- The Spartan boys matched the feat in their sixth straight title, fielding a team of Kyle LaJoye, Nasir Banks, Sean Cochran and John O’Donnell to run a meet record 7:44.42. O’Donnell won the open 800 in 1:52.14. McLean’s Xavier Jemison was second in the 1600 meters in 4:15.93 and Oakton’s Elham Huq was third in the 3200 meters in 9:20.03.
- In 5A, Stone Bridge had individual winners in the girls’ 800 meters, Lydia Wallis (2:15.04) and boys’ 1600 meters, Alexander Ryan (4:21.84). Ryan joined Connor McMichael, Mitchell Palmer and
Matthew Ryan to ruun 8:20.71 for eighth place in the 4×800.
- Independence’s Nithin Rudraraju was 11th in the 800 meters in 2:00.91, while Woodgrove’s Layna Capritta was third in the 1600 meters in 5:11.3. In the 3200 meters, Riverside’s Sarah Floyd was sixth in 11:36.0 and Potomac Falls’ Hudson Barth was 11th in 9:56.16.
- Loudoun Valley’s Ava Gordon won the 4A 3200 meters in 10:17.46, third in the 1600 in 4:58.84 and ran a leg of the Vikings’ runner-up 4×800 with Eryn Lackey, Ella Peterson and Scarlet Fetterolf, hitting 9:35.39. The Viking boys were also second in the 4×800 in 7:53.98, fielding a team of Jake Rimmel, Aidan Soto, Luke Blair and Justin Park. Rimmel was fourth in the open 800 meters in 1:55.46. Loudoun County’s Ethan Stansbury was second in the 1600 meters in 4:18.39, Lightridge’s Sophie Gross was third in the 800 meters in 2:15.81, and Valley’s Ty Blair was eighth in the 3200 meters in 9:29.11.
- Merdian’s girls made an efficient trip to the 3A championships, with a runner-up finish in the 4×800 in 9:45.07. Grace Crum, Lauren Mellon, Molly Moore and Alexis Niemi ran on the team. In addition, Crum finished third in the open 800 meters in 2:20.00, Moore was seventh in the 3200 meters in 11:59.56 and Mellon was ninth in the 1600 in 5:26.77. Emil Morin as 18th in the boys’ 1600 in 4:53.93 and Eli Wildman was 20th in the 3200 in 10:46.85. Wildman joined Jackson Funk, Lucas Hollinger and Henry Hladky to run 8:57.92 for 15th in the 4×800.
- Oakton and American University alumna Keira D’Amato won the US 6k championships in Canton, Ohio.
- Chantilly alumnus Sean McGorty made the U.S. 10k team for the upcoming world championships, running 28:29.57 to finish third at the U.S. championships. St. Albans alumnus Tai Dinger was 16th in 28:51.52. Georgetown alumna Emily Infeld narrowly missed making the team, finishing fourth in 31:30.04. Heritage alumna Weini Kelati was fifth in 31:39.90 and Reston’s Susanna Sullivan was 17th in 32:12.77.
- D.C.’s Gina McNamara won the RRCA National One Mile title at the Loudoun Street Mile in Winchester, Va., running 4:31.7. She also won the Collegiate Running Association national title. Loudoun Valley coach Kevin Shirk won the masters division in 4:26.5, as did Aldie’s Adrienne Glasheen in 5:19.1. Reston’s Terri Rath won the grandmaster’s title in 6:09.3.
- Brentsville alumnus Sam Llaneza (Lynchburg) finished fifth in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Division III Championships, running 3:48.60. Oakton alumnus Tor Hotung-Davidsen (Lynchburg) finished sixth in the 800 meters in 1:50.86.
- The strongest local distance runner representation at the NCAA Championships will come in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, where Georgetown’s Parker Stokes, Tuscarora alumnus Ben Nibbelink (Virginia Tech) and Colgan alumnus Bryce Lentz (Air Force Academy) all moved on to the semi finals. Georgetown’s Maggie Donahue and Charlotte Dannatt advanced to the 10,000 meter finals and Patriot alumna Rachel McArthur, running for Colorado, advanced to the 1,500 meter semifinals. The next rounds will take place June 8-11 at the University of Oregon.
- Herndon alumna Hiruni Wijayaratne will appear on the Today Show Wednesday, June 1 with Al Roker, whom she coached for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. She’s scheduled to be on close to 9:30 a.m. Eastern.
Blake senior Ella Zeigler swept the distance races at the Maryland 4A state track championships, running 2:5.42 for 800 meters, 5:04.31 for 1600 meters and 10:59.06 for 3200 meters. Walter Johnson was third in the 4×800 in 9:33.43.
Northwood’s Lamar Wilson led local boys with a runner-up finish in the 800 meters (1:56.67) and a third place finish in the 1600 meters (4:19.45), while Blair’s Edward Lyness (9:26.70) was third in the 3200 meters. Walter Johnson was second in the 4×800 in 8:05.46.
In 3A, Oxon Hill’s Genelle Stephens was eighth in the 800 meters (2:25.27) and was on the team’s third place 4×800 relay (9:42.64).
Mcgruder’s Colin Abrams was third in the 800 meters (1:54.81), Springbrook’s Sofiane Compaorg was eigth in the 1600 meters (4:23.77) and Springbrook’s 4×800 team ran 8:02.98 for third.
Poolesville’s Daisy Dastrup led local 2A finishers in the 1600 (ninth in 5:27.21) and 3200 meters (fourth in 11:37.59), and a leg 4×800, which finished sixth in 10:21.16. Poolesville’s Sean Groeninger ran 2:04.90 for ninth in the 800s meters, Dylan Derewonko ran 4:33.23 for seventh in the 1600 meters, Aaron Longbrake ran 9:51.18 for fourth in the 3200 meters and the Falcons’ 4×800 team ran 8:37.40 for fifth.
In 1A, Crossland’s Brenda DerSanchez was 14th in the 800 meters in 2:43.32, 15th in the 1600 meters in 6:53.73, and Crossland was 14th in the 4×800 in 13:09.73. Crossland’s Abraham Eason was 13th in the 800 meters in 2:07.93, 10th in the 1600 meters in 4:53.28 and 13th in the 3200 meters in 11:12.66.
At the D.C. state meet, St. Johns’ Meredith Gotzman won the 1600 (5:03.93) and 3200 meters 10:55.72, while Georgetown Visitation’s Helen Bonner ran 2:21.40 to win the 800 meters. Visitation took the 4×800 title in 9:34.82. St. Johns’ Austin Rios-Colon won the 800 meters in 1:56.89, St. Albans took titles in the 1600 meters (William Strong in 4:28.01) and 3200 meters (Sebi Hume in 9:41.25), while St. John’s won the 4×800 in 8:07.96.
Virginians will race their state meets this weekend.