Loudoun Valley hasn’t truly flexed its cross country muscle yet.
Not in winning the Great American Cross Country Festival a week ago and not in scoring 18 points to win the Third Battle Invitational, taking six of the top seven spots in the process. The defending Nike Cross Nationals champions haven’t even figured out who their top seven will be, and two runners who raced in Winchester did well enough to only make coach Marc Hunter’s job harder as the Vikings pick their seven runners who will compete in postseason races.
“It’s a good problem to have,” he said. “I’m always amazed at how the boys do. It’s a revolving door for 6-7-8-9, and it’s been a short season, so we’ll have to make some tough decisions. When they run well like this, it makes it harder.”
For the second straight year, high humidity met Army Ten-Miler runners, but this year’s race was mercifully cooler. But last year’s conditions still stung Susan Tanui, so when the defending women’s champion set out, she made it a point to start out conservatively. It paid off, with a 56:33 victory over Julia Roman-Duval’s 57:17.
Tanui improved by 17 seconds over last year’s time and Roman-Duval improved by two minutes. Tanui, a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, is stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado. Roman-Duval lives in Columbia, Md. Emily Da La Bruyere, of D.C. was third in 59:07.
Woodrow Wilson sophomore Vincent Kimami spends a lot of his time before races wrapped up in his nerves. This week, coaches and race directors were right with him.
As rain continued to fall on the D.C. area, the fates of weekend invitationals were once again in doubt. On Friday, Fauquier County, Va.’s Octoberfest Invitational pulled the plug, like Oatlands two weeks before and Maryland’s Track and Trail before that, driven by concerns about how courses would survive the onslaught of spikes and body weight.
But the DCXC Invitational at Northeast D.C.’s Kenilworth Park was a go, and runners would have a chance to face off and get dirty. Coaches, and Kimani, could stop fretting and start planning on actually racing. The flat, usually fast course was not immune to the rain, and long muddy stretches and iffy turns forced many races to become tactical, which as T.S. Wootton senior John Riker remarked after his third place finish, would ultimately be more beneficial in the long term for runners.
D.C. police charged 23-year-old Anthony Crawford of Northwest D.C. with first degree murder in connection with Wendy Martinez’s death Sept. 18 while she was running in Logan Circle.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham cited a combination of work by police, tips from the public and security camera footage in identifying Crawford, who was arrested the night of Sept. 19 at the Girard Street Park near 14th Street NW.
Martinez, 35, was killed following a stabbing while she was running west on P Street NW in Logan Circle the evening of Sept. 18. Newsham said she stopped at the corner of 11th Street NW at 7:45 p.m., where she was stabbed in what he described as likely a random attack. There was no indication Martinez was the victim of a robbery, but police have not identified a motive.
A 7 p.m. vigil Sept. 20 has been planned at the corner of P and 11th.
Newsham called the stabbing an isolated instance.
“We don’t see crimes like this very much, it was an unlikely thing that happened,” he said at a Sept. 20 news conference. “It’s certainly damaging to all our senses of safety.”
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham described her in a Sept. 19 news conference as “avid runner, known to run for miles across the city on a regular basis.” More than that, she ran the 2015 Palestine Marathon, finishing in 4:20:18 for eighth place.
Taking up marathon training often means taking time away from the family to get in the miles, the long runs, the workouts. For Joe Divel, it turned into a way to create new bonds with his daughters.
Divel, 59, of Rockville, is in his fourth year with the Montgomery County Road Runners Club First Time Marathoners program and in his second year as a coach.
FTM prepares people to run a marathon — it doesn’t have to be their first — over a six-month period. And it’s more than just running buddies or training plans — Divel referred to the group as a family numerous times.
When Adam Popp heads to the start line at the Navy Air Force Half Marathon on Sunday, the pain of the marathon he ran just days before will be fresh. But the Air Force veteran who lost his right leg above the knee after an explosion in Afghanistan in 2007 knew he had to make room in his schedule for the half marathon that holds special meaning to him. In 2015, only four months after he took up running seriously, Popp finished the Navy Air Force Half in 1:44:29 — much faster than his first try at the distance eight years earlier.
“Long story short, I ran that half marathon faster than I had when I had two legs,” Popp said.
Washington-area runners are fortunate to have miles upon miles of trails and paths at their disposal. We can essentially run clear from one side of the metro area to the other and everywhere in between. But the region’s weather extremes, our isolated and dully lit trails, and our blighted stretches of paths often force many runners to shift their routines — for safety’s sake.
Even for those who feel they know Washington’s labyrinth of streets and trails like the back of their hand, sometimes runners can go more than a mile without another person in sight. This can leave runners vulnerable, as one runner who anonymously shared her story with us remembered.
It’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Music blaring from a DJ breaks the sleepy stillness of the open field. Underneath the foggy haze of a fall morning, hundreds of high school runners are awake and ready. A mass of bodies squish together along the line, experiencing the thrill of adrenaline, nerves and anticipation.
And then the gun goes off. All you can hear is the tidal wave of cries from spectators and random cowbells clanging. The race is a blur of hills and turns and ups and downs. Sand and mud and grass.
And then it’s over. Runners stagger across the finish line; many collapse into the waiting arms of volunteers. The music is still pounding; the finish line announcer is calling out names and times. What began as a competition, intense and focused, takes on the air of a festival. Athletes wander around searching for food and friends. No longer competitors, racers from all different schools come together to hang out and enjoy the amenities.
Look to the left, then to the right.
Everyone on this starting line started crawling and somehow ended up here, in a pair of spikes.
Some found their niche after trying other sports. Others found their identity as a runner in their parents or siblings’ path. A few became runners out of dumb luck.
When I was your age, they would say we could become front runners or kickers, that is to say, you could be a runner since you could walk, or you just took it up a few years ago.
Today, what I’m saying to you is, when you’re facing a loaded starter’s pistol – what’s the difference?
Right when the meaty part of Fall marathon training starts, D.C.’s primary long run route continues to be a challenge. “The Big Loop,” the popular 20-mile route carrying runner around the Capital Crescent and Georgetown Branch trails to Rock Creek Park’s Beach Drive is still compromised, though in new ways.
The Georgetown Branch Trail remains closed during construction of the Purple Line. The Beach Drive rebuilding project has moved north, closing most of the 2.7 miles between the Maryland state line and Joyce Road. And now the Zoo loop, the roughly half-mile trail circumnavigating the Beach Drive tunnel, is apparently in danger of falling into the creek following heavy rains and erosion, so pedestrians and cyclists are forced to share a five-foot-wide sidewalk, feet from automobile traffic.
RunWashington offers a few alternative 20-mile runs, along with alterations in case you want to run to the loops but not go too far. None of them are out-and-backs, because face it, anyone can do that.