Three years ago, we introduced the running community to Matthew Hua, a runner at J.E.B. Stuart High School who would not allow his unique medical condition slow him down. In the time since, Matthew has proven unstoppable. In fact, within four days, Matthew hosted a dinner for the many champions who’ve supported him and his family over the years, graduated from Stuart with an international baccalaureate diploma and underwent surgery to further improve his breathing capacity.
RunWashington caught up with Matthew and several of his champions to find out what has changed in his life since 2015, and how running has changed him.
As a freshman at Georgetown, Mike Crozier didn’t see himself leading the workouts and trying to make a name for himself.
He wanted to show up, shut up and be patient.
“Just give myself time and work my way up,” he said.
He did that, but it took longer than he planned. Robbed of more than two years by persistent injuries, Crozier is about to finish his sixth year on the team in the grandest way possible – on the track at the NCAA championships, running the 10,000 meters Wednesday night in Eugene, Ore. His race is scheduled for 10:08 Eastern.
The Washington, D.C. area is spoiled with more than 200 organized runs each week. Some are organized by running specialty stores, others by running clubs, and almost all are open to new members. We’ve organized a calendar that compiles meeting times and details about each run, along with where you can find more information.
Some groups are pretty casual. Others are hardcore. Some ask that you RSVP and others require you to be a member. Some days have more than three dozen different runs.
It doesn’t take long in the D.C. area to see a flyer for a 5K, a social media post about a group run or a specialty running store. There are dozens of local outlets for runners, but the specialty running store industry is facing a changing landscape, as online competitors siphon business and customers adopt new shopping habits.
Potomac River Running is one of many stores that has felt the pinch. Owner Ray Pugsley said over the last five years, sales have been down 15 to 20 percent. He attributes some of that decline to a shift in consumer habits: more people are turning to online and big-box retailers for lower prices and convenience.
Jamies Watts, who has cerebral palsy, completed the New Jersey Marathon, starting the night of April 28 and finishing the next day. RunWashington featured her three years ago when she sought to complete 34 races in the year before her 34th birthday.
The Best of Washington Running is back, and we’re going to do things a little different this year.
We’ll still collect nominations in 20 categories, plus a bonus “worst of” category, but the RunWashington editorial staff will evaluate the finalists and report back with the winners. And we’ll be awarding lifetime achievement awards to some of the perennial winners to further exhibit the depth of what the running community has to offer.
Nominations will be open through 11:59 p.m. May 31.
Since his first days coaching at George Washington University, Terry Weir has identified the Atlantic 10 Conference crown as the goal for the men’s cross country program. But so far, the team has faltered each year.
“For one reason or another, we’ve stunk at that meet,” said Weir, head coach for both the men’s and women’s cross country programs.
Conference peers predicted the same for the 2017 schedule.
“It’s like anything else on paper,” he said. “We were picked to be 10th. We should have been picked to be 10th. That’s where we’ve been stuck.”
In 2017, race crews across the country set up clocks, finish lines, traffic control and water stops for 703 marathons. D.C-area runners finished more than 291 of those races. In fact, more than 14,091 times, a local runner has crossed the finish line. That’s nearly 500 more than 2016, when the region notched 13,576 finishes, but down from 2013’s 15,950 local finishes.
The two biggest local marathons claimed the most local finishers, including the winners.
That all adds up to 369,184.2 miles of racing, not counting extra distance tacked on when runners didn’t hit the tangents.
Ethiopian Jamel Yimer (21) blew apart a large pack of runners in the seventh mile and hung on to beat Ethiopian-born Ayalew Yimer (25) by five seconds, an eternity for a race that usually sees closer margins at the finish line. His 4617 is the fastest winning time since Stephen Sambu‘s 45:29, save for 2015 when the race was only 9.39 miles.Meanwhile Ethiopian Buze Diriba won the women’s race after two straight runner-up finishes here.
“I knew I was going to win at 12k,” Jamel Yimer said. “I didn’t run the time I wanted to, but I am happy with the win. My training was going very well, so I was confident I could beat anyone in the field.”
Yimer ran his first half marathon in 59:00, earlier this year in the United Arab Emirates.
Portland’s Chris Derrick was the first American, running 46:53 for fifth overall.
“I wanted to sit back in the pack, because it was pretty big and we had some guys with firepower in there,” he said. “I didn’t quite have my top fitness with me, but I was happy with how I was able to battle a little bit.”
D.C.’s Clint McKelvey was the top local men’s finisher in 50:14, edging Jeff Stein by five seconds. Paul Thistle (50:32) edged Matthew Centrowitz, the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 1500 meters who ran 50:38 for 30th place. Greg Mariano rounded out local finishers in 38th place in 52:22.
Diriba’s 3-second victory over Gebrekidan in 53:45 was much tighter than recent women’s races, excluding 2015. Last year, Gebrekidan (22) won with a 15-second lead over Diriba (24).
Coach Herb Tolbert can’t go anywhere in Gaithersburg without someone calling out, “Hey, Coach!”
It’s a testament to his commitment to the community. A retired Gaithersburg High School guidance counselor and one of the school’s track and cross country coaches, Tolbert has been a pillar in the Montgomery County running scene for over 40 years. Still proud and enjoying what he does, Tolbert is nearing the point where he’s coaching his kids’ kids’ kids.
“It’s kind of like six degrees of Coach Tolbert,” he said with a smile.
Tolbert, 70, has spent his entire teaching and coaching career at Gaithersburg, and simply put, it’s the kids and close-knit community that have kept him there.