Washington, DC

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.

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Saturday mornings aren’t the same for Teens Run D.C., a mentoring and distance running program for underserved youth.  Zoom hangouts have replaced the group’s Saturday runs, the Mentoring Matters 5k, scheduled for May 16, has been canceled and several events with local running groups didn’t happen as planned in April, all consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the physical distancing guidelines necessary to limiting transmission. 

For now, the organization is continuing to reach members and volunteers virtually until life returns to a new normal, said Lizzie Majewski, the group’s director of operations and finance. Majewski said the AmeriCorps coaches who typically work with middle school students are sharing videos on Facebook and Instagram, plus checking in with students by phone and Microsoft Teams. 

“We will continue to educate and connect with our community, and we look forward to our group runs and gatherings returning. As many others do right now, we miss our community,” Majewski said.

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You’re at a picnic at a park, and so is another family nearby. Your uncle gets drunk and belligerent, wanders over to the other family, gets rude, starts taking food without asking.

If both families wanted the uncle to stop, who would he be more receptive to? 

“When we’re talking about violence against unarmed African Americans, whether by police or civilians, it’s largely been our family trying to get the drunk uncle to stop,” D.C.’s Fred Irby said.  “His family is looking at what’s happening, shaking their heads and saying ‘he doesn’t represent us as a family,’ but they haven’t done anything to pull him back.”

These days, Irby is applying that metaphor to the Feb. 23 shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was running in a Glynn County, Ga. neighborhood. After more than two months with no action by local authorities, the Georgia Bureau of Investigated Gregory and Travis McMichael and charged them with murder and aggravated assault May 7. 

In an online movement, #IrunwithMaud, that gained momentum following the May 6 release of video footage of the incident and stoked in large part by New York-based activist Alison Désir, runners dedicated their runs on May 8, which would have been Arbery’s 26th birthday, with many running 2.23 miles, commemorating the date of his murder. While there’s no shortage of violent incidents, including deaths, of unarmed African Americans, this was the highest profile, if not the first, involving a victim reported to be exercising at the time, particularly running.

It caught on, with thousands of runners, unable to gather because of physical distancing orders, followed through on social media platforms. 

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Mike Ricci set the stage for his 2020 by running the New Year’s Day 5k in Gaithersburg. As it turns out, by mid-May, he’s been spending more time working with the Manna Food Center, the race beneficiary, than he has been running outside. 

As communications director for Gov. Larry Hogan, Ricci’s been cut off from the leisurely runs out in the Old Line State while he manages the outreach for one of the country’s most active governors during the coronavirus pandemic, which ranges from state-wide communications down to relationship building to tackle consequences of the pandemic, including food insecurity. 

“I pretty much stick to the treadmill,” he said, quick to add, “not just because of the stay-at-home order, but because of my hours.”

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Ashley Donovan is used to starting off her ultramarathons with a low-key command. “Go” usually suffices. But the start of her latest 24-hour run was accompanied by sirens. 

At 6:01 a.m. May 9, as she started on a day’s worth of solitary 0.2-mile loops around the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad building and parking lot, an ambulance rolled out on a call. That service, and her fundraising run, hammered home the 24-hour nature of emergency response and demonstrated why she was doing this. The secretary on BCCRS’ Board of Directors, Donovan, of Upper Northwest D.C., has been a volunteer EMT since 2015. 

“People have been surprised when they hear I’m still volunteering,” during the coronavirus pandemic, she said. “This was a fine opportunity to highlight the role of volunteers in our emergency response system.”

The fundraising effort around her feat totaled more than $11,000, which will be split between the rescue squad and Feed the Fight, a nonprofit that feeds emergency and healthcare workers meals from local restaurants and caterers. 

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As you may have noticed, we don’t have many races happening for a while. 

For the rest of 2020, RunWashington’s rankings are going to change to the next best thing – Strava segments. Since we can’t all get together in one place and go shoulder-to-shoulder, the next best thing will be to compare performances on the same turf at the DMV Distance Derby.

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I’m a road guy. 

I’ll get on trails pretty regularly, but I have the most fun when I can just run and not focus as much on where I am stepping or thinking about the last time I tripped and bruised my ribs. Once I realized just how many people were exploring narrow trails when they started getting out of the house more, the roads, particularly in residential neighborhoods became more and more my bread and butter. 

When the National Park Service granted Mayor Bower’s request to close Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park for more than half of April, I was thrilled, and I decided I was going to make the most of it.

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Ben Beach was actually happy for the reprieve.

The Bethesda man, who holds the record for most consecutive Boston Marathon finishes with 52, had every intention of running his 53rd, but with the race’s delay, he’s happy to sleep in on Patriots’ Day for the first time since he was in high school.

“I was relieved when they postponed it,” he said.  “I’ve been fighting a bad knee, my mileage was more pathetic than usual. Having a few more months to get ready is a break for me.”

Alexis Fairbanks, of D.C. also would have pushed through some discomfort to race, but has taken the break to recuperate. 

“So no fun Boston challenges for me, but the Olympic Channel (paying the past six marathon broadcasts) has been all day to relive the glory,” she said.

Beach and Fairbanks were two of 606 local runners registered for the race, many of whom are still signed up for the Sept. 14 makeup date, one that is obviously still in question. Many observed the day in one form or another.

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A Walt Whitman runner is getting a bone marrow transplant, but will need help from blood and platlet transfusions. 

Ben Lesser got a major boost in his fight acute myeloid leukemia when the National Marrow Donor Program yielded a partial match.


Help Ben

Donate blood

You can donate whole blood every 56 days. Lesser can accept A negative, B negative, AB negative and O negative.

Donate platlets

You can donate platelets every 7 or 14 days. In D.C., at the Donor Center at Children’s National Hospital, you can donate platelets every 14 days. Around the country, you can donate platelets every 7 days at the Red Cross (see the Red Cross website). If you have ever been pregnant, you may need to have an HLA test first.

Send Ben a card or note: 

Ben Lesser
6106 Harvard Ave. PO Box 607
Glen Echo, MD 20812

If you’d like to organize a group of people to donate blood, or if you simply prefer to speak to someone, please call the Donor Center at Children’s National Hospital at 202-476-5437.


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