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Loudoun Valley junior Ricky Fetterolf. Photo: Ed Lull

Marc Hunter has been around runners long enough to know that even with the benefit of a meritocracy, seniority can often dominate in a team dynamic. That’s why he was surprised to hear then-freshman Ricky Fetterolf say something at a Loudoun Valley team meeting two years ago.

“It was gutsy, because we had a top-heavy team and it’s understandable for a freshman to just sit back and listen,” he said. “We had a top-heavy team, with a lot of seniors, but she voiced her opinion and I respected that about her. So did a lot of the girls.”

Fetterolf didn’t even remember what she had to say. What was more important to her was letting the rest of the team know she would have things to say, albeit somewhat sparingly. She wanted her hands on the wheel as the team moved ahead.

“I don’t talk that much, but if it’s something I value, I will speak up about it,” she said. “I’d rather lead by example.”

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Gonzaga senior Gavin McElhennon. Photo: Ed Lull

Gavin McElhennon got good in a hurry his second year of cross country running. With any luck, he can do it again.

Unable to run for most of the spring thanks to a groin injury, McElhennon finally relented as the school year ended, knowing that rushing to get back on the track wouldn’t win him anything except frustration as the goalposts for his return moved away every time he started up.

“I was hurting every time I ran,” he said. “I’d take time off, do a lot of physical therapy and start up again, but every time, I’d start hurting after a few days.”

His attention turned to his senior year at Gonzaga, where he had been the Eagles’ top distance runner most of the prior two years. Finally, in July, he opted for platelet-rich plasma injections in his groin, hip and glute, and gave the procedure a month to work itself out. Now, with more than a month of pain-free training, he’s eyeing a late-season comeback, with hopes of his best finish yet at the Nike Cross Regionals Southeast meet, where he finished 57nd last fall.

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Hiruni Wijayaratne (in orange shorts) grabs her water bottle during the 2019 World Championship Marathon. Photo: Ceylon Athletics

When Hiruni Wijayaratne toed the start line of the women’s marathon at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Doha, Qatar, it was just before midnight, but the heat and humidity were almost unbearable.

Had it been any other race it may have been a reason for a DNS. But Wijayaratne — a Herndon alumna now running for her native Sri Lanka — knew Doha was part of her path to the Olympics, a goal she had set her sights on back in 2016. She had to try.

Wijayaratne said she knew from the moment she landed in Qatar that it was going to be a tougher race than she, or anyone else, had expected.  Read More

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Albert Velikonja leads a phalanx of runners in the second mile of the Glory Days Invitational. From left: Sam Pritchard, Jake Plummer, Velikonja, Colin McCauley, Sean Stuck. Photo: Charlie Ban

Tight packs kept spectators guessing throughout the Glory Days Grill Invitational, as no runner took over the race until very late, with some top-five finishes in boys and girls races jumbling even in the last 200 meters.

Ultimately, Yorktown senior Albert Velikonja won his second invitational of the season and Centreville junior Camilla McKinstry won her first ever invitational.

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Name: Samantha Kirby Cole

Self-described age group: 50-59

Residence: Arlington,Va.

Occupation: Physical education teacher

Why you run: Running is my time to reflect on my day and defrag my mind.

When did you get started running: I started running when I was in elementary school. When I was 7 years old I thought my older siblings were super cool. My brothers started running track so I joined too.

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Loudoun Valley senior Kellen Hasle. Photo: Ed Lull

The eternal struggle shook the Hasle household. Teenaged Kellen wanted to stay in bed, his mom wanted the exact opposite, the summer after he finished eighth grade.

He could have fruitlessly made the excuse that he was still living in Alaska Time years after the family moved to Virginia, but those pleas would have fallen on deaf ears.

Mrs. Hasle signed Kellen up for Loudoun Valley’s cross country team. What she thought would have gotten him some exercise initially gave him more of an appreciation for the outdoors.

“There’s this path called the nature trail, where a lot of the less dedicated runners would go,” he said. “I spent a lot of my freshman year there.”

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Loudoun Valley sophomore Ava Gordon. Photo: Ed Lull

Things were going quite well for Ava Gordon during her freshman year at Rock Ridge High School. She was the top freshman in Virginia’s 5A division, finishing fourth at the state meet and 15th at Nike Cross Southeast. She liked her coach and her teammates and running around Ashburn.

The problem was, other people were coming to like Ashburn, too. The population growth was forcing the Loudoun County School District to expand, adding Independence High School. That meant students eastern Loudoun County would be redistributed among Rock Ridge, Independence and Briar Woods. At the same time, her family decided it was time for Ava’s grandmother to move in, and that would mean needing more room of their own. So the Gordons headed west, and Ava and her older sister Alex.

“It was something we had been talking about doing for a while, but the timing wasn’t right,” Dan Gordon said. “We were going to have Alex at Rock Ridge, Ava was going to be moved to Briar Woods. We just wanted to reset everything, have everyone at the same school, everyone in the house and finally make that move.”

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Clockwise from top left: Ashley Davidson chats with a Westfield runner during the 2016 DCXC Invitational. Dickson Mercer interviews Matt Llano after the 2013 USATF 12k Championships, Kelyn Soong consults with Meb Keflezighi after the 2017 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, and Charlie Ban hears from Rich Mendelowitz after the 2015 Army Ten-Miler.

A lot of hardworking journalists put together RunWashington, all on top of their full-time jobs. Meet a few of them, learn a little bit about their personalities and read some of their best work.

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