Last month, a major outdoor magazine published a clickbait column pointing fingers at groups the author didn’t think did enough trail work.
This dispute made the trail runner internet community very angry, sending heart rates higher than a super sweaty mid-summer speed work session.
Not up for dispute? Trails take precision, experience, and hard work to build, then once built, require some quality maintenance to keep them fit for all kinds of use.
Everyone knew Wendy Martinez as a runner. It was a huge part of her identity. So much so that when she wanted to meet her friends at a trendy brunch spot in D.C., she would run to the restaurant “and show up all sweaty. She didn’t want to miss a run,” said her best friend Kristina Moore.
“I think through running she found power and strength and serenity — it showed her dedication and mental strength, and so it was an integral core of her life,” Moore said.
Running fulfilled Martinez; she also died while running. Last September, a stranger fatally stabbed the 35-year-old while she was out for a run in D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood. It was a tragic act of violence that rocked her friends, family and the running community.
After her death, her friends and family founded the Wendy Martinez Legacy Project — an initiative that invests in the causes Wendy cared about most: empowering women in technology, supporting women’s entrepreneurship and connecting with others through running.
In a way, Ariel Laguilles has been preparing for this week all of his adult life.
Since his freshman year at Gonzaga College High School, his education and work have all been at Jesuit schools. Now he is in the midst of what he plans to be a eight-day run along the 406-mile path in Spain walked by St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit order, nearly 500 years ago.
But in another, more specific way, he’s been planning for about a year. While leading immersion trips for students at Gonzaga, where he is chairman of the modern languages department, he struck up conversations with the tour group organizer, who was based in Spain. They talked a lot about pilgrimages.
It turned out his new friend Augie was a big fan, and the two hatched a plan for Laguilles, 40, to run to Manresa, near Barcelona, from Azpeitia, near Ignatius’ home of Loyola. That’s the route St. Ignatius walked before writing his work Spiritual Exercises.
“Some pilgrimages are pretty popular, but Ignatius’ didn’t really rise to that level,” Laguilles said, noting that the route gets about 400 people a year, compared to hundreds of thousands for other European pilgrimage routes. “But it was an experience I’d love to have.”
Joshua Harmon started running while serving in Iraq. His wife, Kristin, wasn’t a runner, but she told him she’d run with him when he came home.
He didn’t come home.
Harmon was killed in action on Aug. 22, 2007, at the age of 20.
Kristin, who remarried in 2012 and now has the last name Johnson, has been able to run in Harmon’s honor through wear blue: run to remember, a nonprofit with communities across the country, including in Northern Virginia, Bethesda and Quantico. She lives in Alexandria.
The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer — which can mean one big thing for the running community: more runners are taking to the region’s sidewalks, paths and trails.
As more runners ditch the treadmill in favor of running outside, there are health and safety reminders to consider. Chief among them is knowing the correlation between warmer temperatures and running risk, said Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the medical director of MedStar Sports Medicine for the Washington region. Spring can yield some warm-but-not-too-warm running conditions, but “just because the air feels [cooler], you have to be careful,” he said.
Temperatures can feel comfortable and quickly get dangerous as you exercise, he said. Runners need to be careful with outdoor exercise when temperatures are between 73 and 82 degrees, but with higher humidity levels — a foregone conclusion in the D.C. area — temperatures as low as 73 can be high risk, Dr. Douoguih said.
Sean and Ryan Leahy love going the miles together. The 25-year-old Alexandria brothers have been running together since high school, but are now upping their mileage out on the trails.
The Leahys both ran at Slippery Rock University, north of Pittsburgh. Sean ran for three years, his main event being the 400-meter hurdles. Ryan ran for only a year and a half, his main events being the 400 and 800.
“After that year and a half, my sister got me into the ultra community in western Pennsylvania,” Ryan said. Intrigued by the longer distances out on the trails, Ryan decided to give it a shot. From there, he put the 400 and 800 behind him.
He ran his first ultra, a 50K, during his sophomore year in college.
“I had no clue what I was getting myself into,” Ryan said. “My sister said, ‘There is this race by my house. It’s a 50K. You should do it.’ I think being naïve helped me out because I had nothing to compare it against. No expectations allowed me to enjoy the experience and get the most of out of it that I could.”
Setting a PR in the 10k seems like it would make most people happy. Especially if they do it at age 34, more than a decade after the conclusion of an All-American running career.
Not Keira D’Amato. She was third at mid-April’s Monument Avenue 10k in Richmond, and she was pissed. Winner Bethany Sachtleben gapped her by almost a minute.
“I got crushed,” she said the next day. “I ran the best I could and I didn’t even last a mile with them.”
She acknowledged the obvious.
“I’m just a competitive person,” she said. “I know I should be happy, it was a lifetime PR (33:37),” she said. “I’m now in better shape than I ever was in college.”
Giovanni Reumante’s experience as a freshman at Northwood High School was a little different than most. His school had recently reopened after being used for offices for the previous 19 years, but rather than siphoning students from other schools, he and his peers were the only class in the school. The Gladiators could have been called the Trailblazers.
He was one of the first members of the school’s track team in 2005, and the cross country team in 2006.
“It was an interesting year. My freshman year, we only had freshmen,” he said. “We were always the top of the class. We didn’t have upperclassmen until we were the upperclassmen.”
On a humid morning and afternoon, almost 500 D.C.-area runners finished the Boston Marathon. Jordan Tropf, a 27-year-old medical resident from Silver Spring, led local finishers in 61st place, 58th among men, in 2:27:21. McLean’s John Brough, 23, a Bishop O’Connell alumnus, ran 2:29;33 to lead Northern Virginians in 93rd, 87th among men. Steven Mance, 34, was the top man from D.C., finishing 99th overall, 92nd man, in 2:30:21.
Chantilly’s Christine Westcott, the 49-year-old winner of February’s George Washington Birthday Marathon, was the top local woman, running 2:58:48 for 148th woman and 2348th overall. Montgomery Village’s Elizabeth Conlon, 27, who ran at Good Counsel and Georgetown, was the 160th woman across the finish line and 2476th overall, running 2:59:20. Annyck Besso was D.C.’s first woman, 267th place and 3361st overall in 3:04:36.
Kenya’s Lawrence Cherono won the men’s race in 2:07:57 and Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa won the women’s race in 2:23:31.
Bethesda’s Ben Beach ran his record 52nd Boston Marathon. Lindsay Flanagan, formerly of Silver Spring, was the ninth woman across the line in 2:30:07.
As always, please let me know if we’ve left anyone out or used clock times instead of chip times. Residences are as reported to the Boston Athletic Association on race registrations, so some people may have moved in the meantime. After a second check of results, I believe we’re “there” now.
Stanley Kebenei could pick from a few comeback stories on his way to setting the American record at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile. A year ago, he was sitting at home nursing an Achilles tendon injury that left him in despair. A week ago, he had just run a miserable race for the world cross country championships. But none of that mattered when he crossed the line Sunday in 46:00, breaking Greg Myer’s 1983 record of 46:13, also run at Cherry Blossom.
“It’s a dream come true,” Kebenei said. “You should never lose hope.”
Note: Five days later. race officials announced that due to a misplaced set of cones marking the course, the race distance was 9.96 miles and ineligible for records.