Washington, DC

Where Can I Run? Jan. 30-31

We’ve had five days to dig out of Jonas’s snowfall and results are about what we saw after snowfalls last year, with few surprises. Thank you to everyone who has chimed in with their observations! We’ve seen a lot of progress on Friday alone, so if you see more open on Saturday, let us know for the benefit of Sunday runners.

Green: Clear and closed to traffic
Yellow: Clear but open to traffic
Orange: Passable but not great
Red: Reportedly not cleared

Zoom in for more detail. Read on below the map.

The best bets for a long run this weekend are the Capital Crescent Trail south of Bethesda, Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park and the Custis and Four Mile Run trails in Virginia.

You can get a decent workout in West Potomac Park using Ohio Drive and Buckeye Drive, and Hains Point in East Potomac Park was clear as of Friday at noon.

We’ve heard that the Mount Vernon Trail is bad away from Old Town Alexandria, and most of the W&OD is packed snow. Some high school track teams have been known to shovel lanes on the tracks, but if you’re heading out looking to run on one, be flexible with your timing because those lanes will be in high demand.

Comment or send updates to [email protected]. I will attempt to add them when I am able.

These maps are based on my collected reports and my own personal observation. They do not carry any guarantee that conditions have not changed or that it is impossible to slip. RunWashington is not liable for injuries suffered as a result of running, outdoors or indoors. While running when the temperature is below freezing, watch for ice anywhere along these routes.

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This map tracks assaults on people running or on popular running routes in the Washington, D.C., region going back to 2010. Each description includes a link to an article or press release about the incident.

NOTE: Pins are placed in approximate locations marking the general area an incident occurred. In most cases these are not exact locations.

The map is incomplete and relies mostly on media reports. If you have an incident to report, email [email protected].

She took to running for its simplicity.

One foot in front of the other.  No need for a gym membership. Plenty of bike paths and trails. Her only real goal was to stay in shape; as incentive, she signed up for a 5k.

One of her favorite loops took her to Arlington’s Marine Corps War Memorial, or Iwo Jima Memorial.  She typically ran through the dark of early morning, and usually alone (at this point, she was reluctant to join a group, worrying she’d be too slow). Meanwhile, she always saw plenty of other runners and pedestrians.

She was wearing headphones, but still heard someone coming up from behind her.

A passing runner?

About as soon as she could tell something wasn’t quite right, a man grabbed her around her waist and pulled her to the side of the path.

What happened next probably only lasted a few seconds, though it “seemed like an eternity,” said the runner, who wished to remain anonymous.

She fought back, got herself loose, and yelled out for help.

When he ran away, she ran in the opposite direction. She asked someone to borrow their cell phone and called the police.  The report, however, was difficult to file: she didn’t get a good look at her attacker.

That day on the path, as a result of the incident, she met another runner who invited her to join a twice-a-week morning running group.  Several days later, still shaken from what happened, she returned to running by joining her new friend for her first group run.  These days, she rarely runs alone, and always carries a cell phone.

For a time, a runner coming up behind her would cause her body to recoil.  A couple years later, she thinks about the incident less and less. At the same time, her experience made it clear to her that, when out running, women face another layer of risk that men give little thought to.

“That’s the way of things,” she said. “I don’t have to like it. I resent it.  But because I am a woman I do have to have this extra check list.”

For another local runner, Meghan Ridgley, early morning hours – her typical training window – limit her route options, even in suburban Virginia. Runners who train in the dark are typically advised to wear reflective or bright clothing to make themselves more visible to drivers.  But because Ridgely finds it difficult to vary where she runs, she does the opposite, preferring instead to keep a low profile.

She often runs loops “over and over again” near her home, where she knows the traffic patterns and her safety zones.

“I am always in an area where I can run to safety if need be,” she said.

Shawn McIntosh, of Catonsville, Md., works for the American Public Health Association, through which she supports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Transformation Grants program.

Nationwide, there are many areas, she said, where it is not safe to be physically active due to issues like crumbling sidewalks or bad lighting. And these are some of the issues that McIntosh is trying to address through the Community Transformation Grants program, which provides funding to a variety of initiatives aimed at creating healthier communities.

But while pedestrian paths lower the chances of being struck by a vehicle, McIntosh, who recently returned to running after a long break and is training for a half marathon, prefers not to run on them by herself, or with her typical training partner: her four-year-old in a stroller.

In these instances, she would rather stick to runs in her neighborhood – like Ridgely, close to home.

Meanwhile, Washington’s Celia Riley prefers the paths of Rock Creek Park, a nearly 3,000-acre park bisecting northwest Washington, D.C. She typically runs alone and in the early morning, comforted by the sight of another runner every few minutes.

She runs at an hour when her visibility is good and wears a bracelet with identification. For weekend long runs, she takes a phone and Metro card, in case she were to injure herself.

Recently, Riley strayed from her routine, heading into Rock Creek Park on a Saturday night.

She knew right away it was a mistake.  Though armed with a headlamp and pepper spray, she was scared, felt unsafe and fixated on the possibility of an attack.

She wrote on her blog, “All the alerts and reminders I see on news feeds and Twitter for runners to be cautious flashed through my mind and I thought, ‘I’m going to be another headline.’”

Riley’s only run-ins that night were with deer. But she learned her lesson.

“I absolutely will not do it again solo,” Riley said, who offered that having a running partner might have raised her comfort level.

Keep in mind, Rock Creek Park is only open during daylight hours.

 

Fighting Back

Laurie Porsch’s self defense teachings stress the importance of avoiding dangerous scenarios but also not avoiding the fact that one can do everything right and still get attacked.

The active-duty U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant (she has served two deployments) teaches martial arts – including Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu – at BETA Academy in Washington, D.C. She also teaches self defense classes upon request, applying her martial arts training to teaching her students how to fend off an attacker.

Porsch’s self defense philosophy is heavily influenced by an essay called “On Violence,” whose author, Sam Harris, puts forth three principals: avoid dangerous people and dangerous places; do not defend your property; respond immediately and escape.

“[Attacks] happen really quickly,” she said. “Even though you know you are going to be surprised, know what you are going to do. Know that you won’t freeze up.”

If attacked, she said, respond violently and immediately. Focus on the eyes, the throat, the knees – on taking away their ability to see, walk, or breathe.

The next step is to run away.

“You’re not there to give them an educational beatdown,” she said. “You don’t want to risk it. Your goal is escape.”

 

The Drivers

Thirteen years ago, Rebecca Samson, then a teenager living in Ellicott City, Md., was running one evening through a neighborhood close to her home. Suddenly, a car pulled up beside her and slowed down, and the driver, a male, asked her if she wanted to get in.

When Samson turned down his request, he aimed the car at her, she said. She took off running as fast as she could, while the car turned around and sped off.

After that, Samson started carrying mace while she ran.  She started varying her routes and the time of day she did her runs.

The South Riding, Va., resident and two-time marathoner no longer carries mace. But she does prefer to do her early-morning runs with friends. If she runs alone, she wears a reflective vest so she can be seen and a headlamp so she can see others. She lets her husband know her route, and keeps a tag on her shoe with contact information.

Running brings Samson joy. A run-in with a creep, on the other hand, illuminated the need to be careful.

Same for Meg Ashton, of Quantico, who likes to drive up to Lake Ridge, Va., to her do long  runs. Her parents live near there, she said, and don’t mind watching her 9-month-old son while she trains.

This spring, Ashton was putting in a 16-miler, mostly on a path running along Prince Williams Parkway, before the Marine Corps Historic Half.

At a certain point, she noticed a man in a car passing her four or five times, she said, every time he had a way to turn around. “The next time I noticed him,” she added, “he had pulled off to the side of the road and parked” about 100 yards away from her.

Ever since her son was born, Ashton started carrying a phone with her when she ran: mostly in case she needed to be reached in the event of an emergency, not in the event she was in an emergency.

She held the phone up to her ear, as if she was about to make a call, and watched the man drive away. Lacking a license plate number, she did not report the incident. She did, however, finish the run – more uneasy and alert than she’d ever felt.

Ashton now makes sure to stick to busy routes and tell her mom or husband where she plans to run.

Reston’s Holly Kearl, a runner and the founder of a nonprofit organization called Stop Street Harassment, points out that women are mostly well aware of the best ways to avoid a potential attacker or harasser.  But that doesn’t mean it’s entirely avoidable: Every run has its risks.

For Kearl, being harassed while running was a big influence on her decision to make street harassment the focus of her master’s thesis at George Washington University. Back then she lived in Fairfax on Lee Highway. Mostly, she explained, it was honks, whistles, and comments yelled from windows. Another time, in Leesburg, she was chased through a park at dusk, she said.

Kearl, whose favorite race distance is 10K, has had fewer problems in Fairfax.  What has helped, she said, was that she and her husband bought a home near a track and trails. Some might say trails offer more risks, but Kearl said she prefers them to “men in cars.”

While Stop Street Harassment has global aims, its partner organization, Collective Action for Safe Spaces, is focusing on building a community free from public sexual harassment and assault in Washington, D.C.

Julia Strange, the all-volunteer’s staff’s director of policy and programs, said, for runners who encounter harassment, “there is no wrong way to respond.” She added, “you really just have to do a gut check to decide what you are comfortable doing.” And in some cases, responding might simply not be safe.

Runners who observe other runners being mistreated might be in a better position to step in and say something, Strange said.

 

Running on

Ashton’s frightening encounter on Prince William Parkway has made her more cautious about where and when she trains, but it hasn’t dulled her tenacity.

At the Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon last month, she ran 3:13, a 16-minute personal best.

The runner who was attacked on her run to Iwo Jima?

Passing by the spot on a run triggers the memory.  But at this point, what she thinks about is how fortunate she was and how much worse it could have been.

She has been running now for two and a half years. Her weekly training mileage continues to climb.

“I knew in my head,” she said, “that if I let this incident really become a big thing, then maybe I would not run at all.”

In October 2013, she finished her fourth marathon in Chicago.

This first appeared in the November/December 2013 issue of RunWashington.

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Samia Akbar nears the 10k mark in 37:28 as she leads the Nike Womens Half Marathon.                          Photo: Charlie Ban
Samia Akbar nears the 10k mark in 37:28 as she leads the Nike Womens Half Marathon. Photo: Charlie Ban

Almost 15,000 runners had a perfect day for the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon, though one stood out more than others.

Leading the packs of first-time half marathoners and visitors seeing the nation’s capital on foot for the first time, Alexandria’sSamia Akbar felt happy to run again.

[button-red url=”http://werundclive.com” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]As she ran far ahead of her competition from the first mile, having the city to herself, on her way to winning in 1:19:32 over McLean’s Wendi Robinson’s 1:21:06, Akbar felt each step bringing her closer to the kind of appreciation for the sport that had worked itself out through repeated workouts, races and seasons.

“I got really nervous on the starting line because I’ve run for a living for years and I’d have such an ultra-competitive mindset before the gun,” she said. “This was a really nice chance for me to just go out and enjoy what I was doing. For the first time in a long time in a road race, I was able to actually hear the people cheering and it was fun seeing bands and step teams.”

It’s not as though running was bad for Akbar, who started running at Oakton High School before earning All-American honors at 10k at American University and running professionally for Reebok, including an Army 10 Miler win and qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials. But the routine that went into that training wore on her, and she hasn’t raced much lately.

“Had I run this a few years ago, I don’t think I would have appreciated it the same way,” she said. “It had a lot of switchbacks that slow you down, but those switchbacks gave you a chance to hear cheering on the other side every step of the way.”

Impressive as her pace was, Akbar served as a warmup act for nearly 14,500 others, many of whom were thrilled to finish.

Elainna Wright, of Alexandria, had never run more than 10 miles before, but with the help of coworker Samantha Bennett, she conquered the vicious 11th mile and broke through to the finish.

When confronted with the distance she had never run before, she gained a lot of motivation from the music in the 9th Street tunnel under the mall and a point when she told herself: “I can do this. I know I can, I’m just going to do this.”

The crowds on Pennsylvania Avenue pumped her up, and she got a lot of support from the volunteers.

“I’m not great at pacing myself, so Sam helped a lot,” Wright said. “She stayed back with me.”

Alexa Mazur of North Kngston, R.I, Kaia Greene of Washington, D.C. Marisa Guerette of West Chester, Pa. and Lentine Zahler of Oakland, Calif. approach 10k.                                 Photo: Charlie Ban
Alexa Mazur of North Kngston, R.I, Kaia Greene of Washington, D.C.
Marisa Guerette of West Chester, Pa. and Lentine Zahler of
Oakland, Calif. approach 10k. Photo: Charlie Ban

Among those who stayed back were 1984 Olympic Marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson and Olympic distance runner Shalane Flanagan, who ran with Samuelson’s daughter, Abby, all finishing in 1:32.

The race partnered with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program, which attracted many visitors to the race. A group of four women from Ottawa all delighted in what the race had to offer.

“It was unreal,” said LeeAnne Ashfield. “You feel a real sense of community with all of these runners. It’s a special and emotional race for everyone.”

Nadia Maruschak got to see a single cherry blossom on a tree, her goal for the trip.

Sisters Alisha Prater and Chandra Von Tiechman ran in memory of their mother, whom they lost to multiple myeloma 10 years ago.

The course started at Freedom Plaza and after a trip through the Ninth Street tunnel, followed much of the Cherry Blossom course, come back through the tunnel after a trip around Hains Point for a loop around the Capitol reflecting pool before finishing back at Freedom Plaza. Prater enjoyed the trips across the Alrington Memorial Bridge in mile three, being able to see runners ahead of and behind her. The race’s entry fee was steep–$160 for most with a  $40 college student discount, but much of that went to cover the silver Tiffany’s necklace awarded to all finishers.

RunWashington’s Maggie Lloyd wrote about working the finish line

Though it was billed as the women’s half marathon, the race was open to men, and more than 538 ran. Some, like Arlington’sMatt Meldroum, were pressed into service when friends or significant others couldn’t make it. His girlfriend, Kristin Salvatora, prepared for the race with Team in Training, and made it to her 11-mile training run before spraining her ankle two weeks ago. Concerns that she could also be suffering a stress fracture led her to drop out, a decision she called “heartbreaking,” and have Meldroum run for her. Except she didn’t tell him it was a primarily female race.

“I was a little overwhelmed on the metro, all the women,” he said. “I definitely stood out, people were looking at me a little weird, but I kept going on strong.

“There were a lot of signs for free high fives. I cashed in on that, I was just trying to raise the energy!”

Some, like North Bethesda’s Darren West, ran to lend support. His wife, Elizabeth, was running her first half marathon and he wanted to be there with her. Though they ran separately, he got to see her on the course and said she was doing great.

“I didn’t feel weird at all, there was fantastic energy,” he said. “She was really excited to take her running to the next level. The Tiffany’s ‘bling’ was definitely an incentive.”

Andrea Sabins (5089) of Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Johnston (6325) of Alexandria and Tona Stotler (8292) of Leesburg lead a pack through mile three at the Nike Women's Half Marathon.                                                            Photo: Charlie Ban
Andrea Sabins (5089) of Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Johnston (6325) of Alexandria and Tona Stotler (8292) of Leesburg
lead a pack through mile three at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Photo: Charlie Ban

 

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By Brenda Barrera
Washington, DC
May 20, 2012
For the Washington Running Report

What is a classic race? It is an event that is judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding and the NCB Capital Hill Classic 10K is just that – a quality event with a long tradition that dates back 33 years with proceeds benefiting the Capitol Hill Cluster, a public school with three campuses.

Ideal weather conditions greeted runners on Sunday as the number of participants increased from last year with 2,149 runners finishing the 10K.

The honor roll of winners for this classic May race include: Kean, Wardian, Gramsky,  Endale, and Wilson. Well, it took local standout Gurmessa Megerssa, 32, a few tries with runner-up honors in 2009 (30:56) and 2010 (31:31) but for 2012 he was finally able to add his name to the list of talented winners with his 31:37 finish.

Australian Alex Dreyer, 22, a 10,000M specialist out of Eastern Kentucky University, took the second spot in 31:54. Washington DC’s Wilson Komen, 34, won the race last year in 32:23 but had to settle for third this year despite a faster finishing time of 32:05. It should be noted Komen also did the double. He ran the accompanying 3K, winning his age group in 9:35.

If Navy Lt. Amanda Rice is at the starting line, expect a standout performance. The 28-year-old dental resident based in Rockville, MD has been heating up the local competition since she arrived from the west coast. Rice handily won the women’s race in 36:31 and certainly did not hide her enthusiasm. Rice finished almost a minute ahead of DC youngster Sheetaye Beneie, 19, who crossed the line in 37:30. Kaitlin Sheedy, 29, also from Washington, DC took the third spot with her 40:36.

The 3K event is a great introductory distance for newbie runners and attracted close to 500 runners this year. The shorter distance also serves as an opportunity for the swifter to test their leg speed. John Kingstedt, 19, from Huddinge, Sweden won in 8:54 and Tiringo Shiferaw, 27, from Washington DC was the first woman in 10:42.

 

                           10K Awards Listing
                    Age Group Awards Based on Net Times
MALE 
Place Name                    Ag City                  Time    
===== ======================= == ===================== ======= 
    1 Gurmessa Megerssa       32 Washington DC           31:37 
    2 Alex Dreyer             22 Perth Australia         31:54 
    3 Wilson Komen            34 Washington DC           32:05 
FEMALE 
Place Name                    Ag City                  Time    
===== ======================= == ===================== ======= 
    1 Amanda Rice             28 Rockville MD            36:31 
    2 Shetaye Beneie          19 Washington DC           37:30 
    3 Kaitlin Sheedy          29 Washington DC           40:36 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 1 - 14
    1 Willem Lensink          14 Falls Church VA         44:19 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 1 - 14
    1 Page Harrison           13 Washington DC           53:22 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 15 - 20
    1 Haydn Borghetti-Metz    15 Rogersville TN          36:02 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 15 - 20
    1 Rebecca Hinch           19 Leesburg VA             47:45 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 21 - 29
    1 Richard Andrews         25 Washington DC           33:28 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 21 - 29
    1 Jennifer Leehey         26 Washington DC           41:18 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 30 - 39
    1 Colin Fishwick          34 Willoughby OH           33:13 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 30 - 39
    1 Erica Solway            30 Washington DC           41:01 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 40 - 49
    1 John Zimmerman          45 McLean VA               35:05 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 40 - 49
    1 Kerry Rodgers           43 Washington DC           42:50 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 50 - 59
    1 Christopher Ryan        53 Washington DC           37:52 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 50 - 59
    1 Blake Rushin            50 Vienna VA               48:33 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 60 - 69
    1 Spider Rossiter         60 Washington DC           40:07 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 60 - 69
    1 Nancy Avitabile         64 Bethesda MD             51:09 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 70 - 79
    1 Ralph Bayrer            72 Washington DC         1:02:29 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 70 - 79
    1 Tami Graf               75 Lusby MD              1:08:15

 

                           3K Awards Listing
                    Age Group Awards Based on Net Times
MALE 
Place Name                    Ag City                  Time    
===== ======================= == ===================== ======= 
    1 John Kingstedt          19 Huddinge                 8:54 
    2 Eshetu Tjlahun          32 Washington DC            8:59 
    3 Seife Geletu            30 Washington DC            8:59 
FEMALE 
Place Name                    Ag City                  Time    
===== ======================= == ===================== ======= 
    1 Tiringo Shiferaw        27 Washington DC           10:42 
    2 Monica Kingstedt        50 Huddinge                11:44 
    3 Dionis Gauvin           37 Washington DC           11:58 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 1 - 14
    1 Adam Schans             13 Washington DC           11:10 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 1 - 14
    1 Anne Ryan               13 Washington DC           13:18 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 15 - 20
    1 Otto Kingstedt          17 Huddinge                 9:22 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 15 - 20
    1 Laura Montermann        19 Falls Church VA         16:51 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 21 - 29
    1 Tripp Southerland       27 Washington DC            9:22 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 21 - 29
    1 Kristy Carter           21 Olathe KS               13:55 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 30 - 39
    1 Wilson Komen            34 Washington DC            9:35 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 30 - 39
    1 Rachel Smith            32 Silver Spring MD        12:23 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 40 - 49
    1 Tom Mahr                47 Washington DC           12:32 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 40 - 49
    1 Elizabeth Festa         45 Washington DC           14:49 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 50 - 59
    1 Anders Kingstedt        53 Huddinge                13:10 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 50 - 59
    1 Linda Rotunno           52 Washington DC           14:10 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 60 - 69
    1 Robert Weiner           65 Accokeek MD             14:49 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 60 - 69
    1 Sarah Burke             60 Washington DC           19:40 

MALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 70 - 79
    1 Lance Bush              77 Washington DC           15:38 

FEMALE AGE GROUP: NET TIME 70 - 79
    1 Carol Kelly             71 Washington DC           28:15
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