Washington, DC
Twelve pairs of running shoes, on their way to a donation bin. Photo: Charlie Ban

Spring is here along with signs of the season: blooming flowers, warmer temperatures and dwellings yearning to be cleaned.

Spring cleaning is an opportunity to purge and get organized, and runners may too find themselves trying to clear their homes of unneeded items such as old shoes, ill-fitting race shirts or shabby shorts. Some area organizations and business can help runners get rid of mementos gathering dust and help others in the process. Read More

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When Kristen Serafin felt like a failure, running helped come back. Twice.

The first time, it was on a monthlong road trip with her now-fiancé Erin Kelman. The second time, when it was even more complicated, it gave her insight and an incentive to share her experience and strive to come out of it more motivated.

Back in September, recovering in Garfield Memorial Hospital in Utah, Serafin asked her attending doctor what would sound like an insane question: Could she run Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim? A 47.5-mile run though the Grand Canyon and back, 10 days after losing a pregnancy she only learned about two weeks prior. To her surprise, she got the go-ahead to accompany Erin.

“He was practical about it, he told me ‘you’re going to be tired, you lost a lot of blood, but I think you can do it if you want to give it a shot,'” she said, “He told me I might need to bail, but there’s nowhere really to bail.

“When I felt like I was a failure because I couldn’t do this thing my body was supposed to be able to do, I still wanted to do something amazing.”

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It started as a game — run a mile a day until things went back to normal.

For Pat Early and his children, it was a way to keep their heads up as the world reacted to the novel coronavirus, as they adjusted to school at home and a suddenly changed world. Then things didn’t go back to normal.

“We thought it would be a couple of weeks, maybe a month,” Pat said. “Now we’re a week away from a year and they’re still doing it.”

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Running Shorts

  • Registration for the Marine Corps Marathon’s virtual options will open Wednesday, March 10 at 12 p.m.. If the race is able to be run in-person this October, those registered for the virtual race will have priority for in-person registration.
  • Pacers Running, Summit to Soul and Vida Fitness are holding a virtual event at 7 p.m. March 10 for International Womxn’s Day including 40 minute yoga class and a panel discussing womxn’s leadership in the running community with Pacers CEO Kathy Dalby, Summit to Soul owner Kim Wattrick, Track Tuesday coach Keshia Roberson, New Balance’s Morgan Taylor and the November Project’s Katherine Foley. Learn more here
  • The District Department of Transportation and Rock Creek Park are holding a remote public meeting from 6:30 p.m. -8:30 p.m. March 18 regarding the Rock Creek Park trail.
  • Georgetown’s men’s and women’s cross country teams qualfiied for the NCAA Championships, George Mason sophomore Annanbelle Eastman qualified as an individual
  • Georgetown graduate student Robert Brandt ran 13:24.31 to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 5,000 meters.
  • Georgetown alumna Emily Infeld ran 31:08.57 to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters. She was a guest on the More Than Running and For the Long Run podcasts.
  • Oakton and American alumna Keira D’Amato has signed a professional contract with Nike. She ran 32:16.82 at the Texas Qualifier to meet the U.S. Olympic Trials standard for the 10,000 meters.
  • I just learned about Georgetown alumnus Andre Laboy’s podcast Conversation Pace, which has featured interviews with a slew of other Georgetown alumni:
  • Georgetown alumna Josette Norris was a guest on the Run Your Mouth podcast.
  • A handful of local runners won distance titles at the Virginia Indoor Track state championships:
    • 5A 4×800 meters Freedom (South Riding) 9:46.88 – Kayleigh Burke, Maya Porter, Madison Garber, Mackenzie Keller
    • 6A 1600 meters – Zach Morse Oakton 4:16.73
    • 3200 meters Bryce Lentz 9:23.25
    • 3200 meters Gillian Bushee Herndon 11:07.52
    • 4×800 meters West Springfield 8:09.87 – Luke Hawkins, Alex Asady, Tyler Weeks, John O’Donnell
    • 4×800 meters West Springfield 9:48.11 – Chloe Miller, Ella Johnson, Aidan MacGrath, Jane Bruenjes
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In any other year, a chilly Thursday morning would see a group of D.C. Road Runners gather in the pre-dawn hours at the Yorktown High School track. Paul Ryan would show up clad in his decades-old puffy U.S. Naval Academy warmup suit.

“Everyone else would be wearing tights, but Paul has this almost-plastic coat,” Rich Mendelowitz said. “It works for him, it’s all kind of old school and it fits his personality.”

Ryan, an Arlingtonian who recently turned 70, has been choosing his running partners carefully during the pandemic, waits for the days when he can get together with people to race again, or just hang out.

“I look forward to being with fellow runners again and feeling good about that bond with fellow runners because right now except for running with one or two different people, it’s been a very solitary existence,” he said. “I avoid crowds, I avoid places where other people are, so running has become what I do when I want to get out of the house and go do something.”

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Running Shorts

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Emily Hart’s friends raved about how Marine Corps would be the best “first marathon” for her, with deafening crowds, thousands of volunteers, aid stations and the atmosphere of running through her home city.

When finally she ran it, her experience was completely different from what she’d heard about, but no less memorable. Like many of the D.C. area’s marathoners, she charted her own course for 26.2 miles in 2020 — straight up the W&OD Trail — one of hundreds whose options were only limited by their creativity and motivation. And, public health orders limiting gathering sizes.

With the November postponement of the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon, usually in March, and the undetermined rescheduling of the Boston Marathon, these will likely be the stories of more runners who feel the itch to go for a very long timed run though at least the first half of 2021. While a smattering of small marathons are being held in the D.C. area, with others tending larger in other parts of the country, fortune will favor the self-motivated. 

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The DMV Distance Derby, RunWashington’s substitute for a robust road racing season, has recorded 677 times for 22 segments since May 2020. Using the Strava app, runners can run a variety of distances on courses throughout the D.C. area at a time of their choosing to earn bragging rights. Often, they are a break from the tranditional 5k, 10k, etc. distances common in road racing.

The 2.5-mile Hains Point segment, clockwise between the gates in East Potomac Park, has seen the most action with 80 men and 45 women trying. Brian Rich (12:34) and Nina Zarina (13:30) hold the leads so far. Others are ripe for more attempts, with only a few people running the WB&A Trail and the Washington’s Birthday Marathon loop in Prince George’s County, Kenwood in Montgomery County or the National Aboretum.

Even if you don’t run all out in an attempt to set a personal best, these courses are also an opportunity to try running in a new place.

We’ll be doing a full year, running through April 30, and I will write glowing profiles of the runners with the most segment leads over that time.

View overall results for the first seven months of the DMV Distance Derby here

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When I cobbled together a few routes for the DMV Distance Derby, I arbitrarily said it would last through the end of 2020. It makes a lot more sense to have the term of the challenge last for an entire year, so as of right now, let’s go through April 30, 2021. By then, if reports are to be believed, COVID-19 vaccines should be reaching wide circulation and the road racing industry will likely have a clearer path forward for resuming operations.  I may retire some underused segments at the end of the year, however, in favor of more popular or accessible routes.

View overall results for the first six months of the DMV Distance Derby here

The segment results are generally organized to fit compactly.

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