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COVER PHOTO: West Springfield’s CAROLINA ALCORTA looks to be one of the top high school cross country runners in the Washington area -- and the country. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY JIM DALY
LOCAL CLUB HONORS THE FASTEST AND THE BRIGHTEST
LETTERS / CONTRIBUTORS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 OFF THE BEATEN PATH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 MILITARY RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 PREVIEW. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 STATE MEET CHANGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 SCHOLARSHIPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 RACE SCHEDULE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 BUILDING A TEAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 POSTAL MEET . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 RUN AND HAVE FUN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 SPIKE REVIEW . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 CROSS COUNTRY FOR ALL AGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 COLLEGE RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 FOOTLOCKER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 CELEBRATE RUNNING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Rising frosh weighs pros and cons of running collegiately
4 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
AUGUST | SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2013
PUblisheR Kathy Dalby RunWashington LLC editoR iN Chief Charlie Ban email@example.com seNioR editoR Dickson Mercer firstname.lastname@example.org CReAtiVe / PRodUCtioN AZER CREATIVE www.azercreative.com sAles diReCtoR Denise Farley email@example.com 703-855-8145 CUstomeR seRViCe firstname.lastname@example.org bRANdiNg ORANGEHAT LLC
The entire contents of RunWashington are copyright ©2013 by RunWashington, LLC. All rights reserved, and may not be reproduced in any manner, in whole or in part, without the written permission of the publisher. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, results, or other materials are welcome but are not returnable and are preferred via electronic communication to charlie@ runwashington.com. Please inform yourself of applicable copyright and privacy laws before submitting for publication; if we decide to publish your submitted material we conduct no such checks and you alone will ultimately be responsible for any violations of any laws including infringement and copyright. Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the publisher, advertiser, or sponsors. Back issues are available for $5.00 for each copy to cover postage and handling. RunWashington is published five times yearly by RunWashington, 4544 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Copies are mailed to subscribers and area businesses and events. Presorted Standard Postage, Permit 397, paid at Frederick, MD. Postmaster: Send address changes to RunWashington 4544 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Be advised that running is a strenuous sport and you should seek the guidance of a medical professional before beginning an exercise regimen.
RUNWASHINGTON Photo bY steVe tAYloR
was visiting my godmother in Seattle one August during college, a cool respite from the Virginia and Pittsburgh summers. My family headed over to see her finish a triathlon and as we entered Genessee Park, the smell hit me — mud and grass. Cross country was coming. There’s nothing quite like it. You get a whole summer to prepare with your team with a lofty goal. Sometimes you break through, sometimes it breaks you. Times mean less than the effort it takes to gut out a halfsecond lead over the guy next to you as you’re about to collapse. It’s primal. Even though I spend most of my year training to race on the roads, that Labor Day weekend college alumni race is enough for me to keep a pair of spikes around. If you’re out of school aching to hit the fields, there are plenty of cross country races out there. Read about how adults are refusing to give up their spikes (page 48). I took a crash course in local high school cross country, thanks to the coaches advisory board that helped compile our preseason AllRunWashington teams (page 14), along with many more runners, coaches and parents who shared countless tips, insights and stories with me. I’m excited to see what seasons our harriers make for themselves. I hope they can add to our region’s proud history at the Footlocker Cross Country Championships (page 54) and no matter how they perform, build strong, supportive teams (page 35). But no matter what, remember to have fun, because that’s why we do this. It’s good to be nervous on the line when your team is counting on you, but remember that the bulk of the time you’re spending running should be enjoyed (page 41). Our new designers, Azer Creative, have done a great job with a clean new layout for the magazine, and some new contributors have done a great job telling some of our community’s great stories. I hope you love it. See you out there, Charlie
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 5
Bring back race reports and runners’ rankings. Cathy Ross Burke, Va. Cathy, Race reports are available online at runwashington.com. They’re posted shortly after the race is over (and the writer has a chance to put it together), that allows us to get the news of the races up faster and reserve print space for stories that are less time sensitive. As for the rankings, if all goes as planned, they should be, after a few hiccups and redesigns, up and running on our new website and exceeding your expectations. Thank you, and everyone else, for bearing with us while we prepare them. — Charlie
Rachel BecKmaNN (Military Running) retired from her first love, gymnastics, at the ripe age of 13. She went on to obsess over running, rowing, triathlon, cycling, mountain biking and a smattering of other sports. When she is taking time off from her extracurricular activities she can be found working as a Chemical Engineer for the U.S Coast Guard in Washington, D.C. JacqUelINe KlImas (To Run in College?) was forced to run the hurdles during high school track. Now she is free to run whatever distance she chooses. She lives in Arlington and writes for Navy Times, having recently earned a masters in journalism from Northwestern University. matthew lehNeR (Celebrate Running) works on the hill and as a freelance photographer in Washington, D.C. While at Saint Louis University, he served as an editor and a photojournalist for the University News. His work was awarded and recognized twice by the Missouri College Media Association. He focuses on landscape, editorial and engagement photography. His photography has appeared in newspapers and international magazines. He also has shot for couples, universities, associations and members of Congress. ed lUll (Various photographs) was a quick mid-distance runner at Lake Braddock and the College of William and Mary. He restarted the Chantilly Youth Association track program 9 years ago after a two-year period of dormancy and lives in Fairfax with his wife of 23 years, Lynn, and his three daughters Cali, Samantha and Hannah, who are all involved in the CYA track program. He photographs at many Northern Virginia cross country and track meets. davId PIttmaN (The Postal Meet) is a health and medical writer who has covered running for ESPN Rise and Running Times, plus other sports while a student at the University of Georgia. A Washington resident, he serves on the board for the Washington Running Club. dUstIN ReNwIcK (State Meet Changes) races for the National Capital YTri team after running collegiate track at St. Ambrose University and earning a masters in journalism from the University of Missouri. KeN tRomBatoRe (Forever Young) photographs dozens of races for the Montgomery County Road Runners Club. He ran his first marathon in 2005 and is a perennial Boston qualifier, more often than not placing in his age group.
I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your website. It is great to get news of past races and also have an excellent resource for upcoming races. I refer anyone who asks to your race calendar when searching for local races. Keep up the good work! Best, Andrew Simpson Reston, Va. Thank you, Andrew! By now, we hope to have our new website working, which will be an improvement over our antiquated setup. It should make the calendar even easier to use and we will finally be able to replace some obsolete graphics (including having our new name at the top). — Charlie send letters to the editor, feedback, love letters and hate mail to email@example.com
6 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
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8 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
BY CHARLIE BAN
ELLANOR LAWRENCE PARK · CENTREVILLE VA
ou wouldn’t think you could ﬁnd peace so close to I-66 and routes 28 and 29 in Centreville. Yet here we are, in Ellanor Lawrence Park. It’s a prime, largely woodchipped set of trails where you can forget all about the road on the other side of the tree line. I typically start my three-mile loop from the Walney Park Visitor’s Center on Walney Road. There you’ll ﬁnd a bathroom at times and parking spaces right next to the trail. The park rather cleanly divides into three sections. Following the Walney Road Trail brings you to the winding Wild Turkey Trail, farther north. Plenty of quick turns keep this relatively ﬂat portion challenging. Crossing a pair of bridges, the trail transitions to steep hills, including a dramatic sweeping slope along a hillside. Coming back down the hill and across another foot bridge, you reach Walney Pond. You’ll hit some pedestrians here, but that’s all you’ll have to worry about. Bicycles are forbidden in the park, so runners are the fastest moving people on the trails. Across Walney Road, a chipped trail parallels Cabels Mill Road, but not for long. Back into the woods from whence you came and an eventual right turn on the Historic Trail puts you on deceptively-tough climb before the trail spits you out next to the visitors’ center. The Southwestern Youth Association, which offers a variety of sports for children in Centreville and Clifton, uses Walney Park for cross country practices. “The variety is great,” said Mike McLenigan, who, along with Craig Edmonds, coaches the SYA cross country runners. “It’s almost entirely shaded and you can do hill training, ﬂat stuff around the lake or strides on the grass.” What’s important to him, when he is looking after his athletes, is that even though the park seems so big, it has clear boundaries in the surrounding roads, and it’s not too far to reach them. “The trails are in great shape and the kids love it,” he said. “They can get a little rowdy and throw walnuts at each other.” Charle Setash of Centreville runs for SYA and particularly enjoys running in Walney Park. “I love running around the lake,” he said. “I can run � laps for a while there.” — Thank you to Alice Putman for recommending this run years ago.
Centreville’s KEITH FREEBURN runs through Walney Park on a June day that made him thankful for shade. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY CHARLIE BAN
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUNWASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 9
By RACHEL BECKMANN
eattle, Sweden, Barrow, Dutch Harbor, Saint Paul Island, Kodiak, Juneau, Mumbai, Guam, Tahiti, Tonga, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Phoenix Islands, Marshall Islands, Brazil, Panama, Oregon, Washington D.C., and at least 30 of the lower 48 states. This eclectic list of destinations describes some of the locations to which I have traveled for the Coast Guard. Travel is a staple of life in the military. You might be changing duty stations, going to a training school, deploying, doing temporary work at an alternative duty station, or, Uncle Sam might have a unique reason why you will once again be packing a bag and leaving home. The military has definitely enabled me to “See the World,” and I have reaped many positive life experiences from my travels, but everything good in life requires some sort of struggle. Long flights, endless layovers, flight delays, time changes, stiff joints, swollen feet, hours (sometimes days) completely lost to travel. As a proudly self-diagnosed endurance sports addict, I confronted this precious time thief called travel and said “no sir!” You will not take away my workouts, my peace of mind, my meditation, my medication.
Now I travel with my running shoes, a change of clothes, and a plan for expected and unexpected layovers. I see flight delays as travel trying to repay me with a few hours to explore an interesting area and to make up for the hours that were stolen from me in the past. With a little research and reconnaissance I have armed myself with the tools to make the most out of any travel debacle. DUlles INteRNatIoNal aIRpoRt (IaD) The idea of sitting in foul-smelling clothes and offending the olfactory sense of not only yourself but those around you is a strong deterrent to working out while traveling. Dulles International Airport, like many U.S International airports, does not have any shower facilities. Luckily, while attending a conference for my current job, I found a workaround. The Fairfax County Recreation centers are a workout fiend’s Disneyland, and I get giddy when I’m close to a recreation center that I haven’t tried. Cub Run RECenter (4630 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly) deserves these accolades and more. You can store your bags at the USO across from baggage claim 11 & 12, then for 50 cents take shuttle to
the Air and Space museum. The RECenter is only 2.3 miles away. If you want to extend the run there are 2.5 miles of trails in Cub Run Valley park, adjacent to the RECenter. You can also pay $8 to use the RECenter for the day. The gym is immaculate and has everything you could ever want or need. Free weights, weight machines, physio balls, cardio equipment, stretch cords, space for core work…They have two enormous pools and there are enough lap lanes to handle large crowds. Getting a cab back to Dulles is never a problem, and the close proximity to the airport ensures an inexpensive ride. RoNalD RegaN INteRNatIoNal aIRpoRt (DCa) DCA and I are close friends. I bike to work on the Mount Vernon trail nearly every day. DCA earns a 4.5 out of 5 star rating for being a workout-friendly airport. The Mount Vernon trail is right at the airport’s doorstep. You can take Mount Vernon South to the Four Mile Run trail. There are a few corporate gym options that offer hefty one-day drop-in fees to use their facilities, but I prefer to support the Parks and Recreation departments. If you stay on the Four Mile Run trail for about, well, four miles, you
10 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
will arrive at the Barcroft Community Center, a facility run by Arlington Parks and Recreation. They offer day admission for $16.00. It has weight machines, cardio equipment, clean locker rooms and showers. In addition, the route to Barcroft is almost entirely on multi-use biking and walking trails, which makes it an easy, safe and comfortable route. A second great option you can access as a military member is the fitness center at Fort Myer. It is a 4.4-mile run from the airport and, best of all, it is free! You can metro into the city if your mind is set on running in a specific location, or you can run to the city by following the Mount Vernon trail north and crossing at 14th Street Bridge, Memorial Bridge, or Key Bridge. Many of the gyms in D.C. require memberships for access, but Balance Gym at the Fairmont Hotel offers a $20 day pass. It is close to the Foggy Bottom Metro stop, making travel back to the airport convenient and cheap. PhiladelPhia iNteRNatioNal aiRPoRt (Phl) PHL is a major hub for military travel and holds a soft spot in my heart. My yellow brick road into the Coast Guard began at PHL when I
was 18 and on my way to boot camp in Cape May, N.J. It was also my first introduction to USO lounges, and I remember being moved by the kindness of the volunteers. It was a nice feeling to hold onto as I began my, at the time, terrifying journey into the military. The USO is located by gate A-6 and is open 24 hours. They have laundry and shower facilities and the most comfortable chairs imaginable. You can store your luggage for free and then head out on a run. The area closest to the airport is not the most settling visually and I would be hard-pressed to attempt a run at night. With good directions from USO volunteers and a map in hand the city is yours to explore. After sweating it out in the city of brotherly love you can shower and refuel at the USO before continuing on your travels. los aNgeles iNteRNatioNal aiRPoRt (laX) My first LAX workout was inspired by jet lag and delirium. I had just returned from racing a triathlon for the Armed Forces in Mumbai. Less than 24 hours later I had to travel to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands for a month long temporary duty assignment on the Coast Guard
Cutter Sequoia. In an attempt to reconnect my brain to my body and avoid turning into a slightly comatose lump on a chair for six hours, I decided to venture into the California sunshine. Thanks to the Bob Hope Hollywood USO it was a stress-free and absolutely satisfying experience that I have since repeated every time I find myself in L.A. The USO at LAX is located between terminals 1 and 2. They have free luggage storage, shower facilities, and volunteers ready to meet your every need. They have never misled me on a run and always give me the safest and most scenic route. I enjoy running out to Del Rey Lagoon Park and then following the multi-use paths up and down the beaches of southern California. Then I head back to the USO for a warm shower and five-star USO dining. Travel no longer holds a negative connotation in my mind. Instead, the frustration is fuel for my athletic passions. The next time you are stuck in airport purgatory, open a map and I dare you to resist the urge to explore and find out what n might just be possible. haPPy tRaiNiNg!
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 11
TAKE YOUR JOURNEY TO AN EPIC LEVEL OF PURE, HEART-POUNDING ROCK. IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO BE CHEERED ON BY LIVE BANDS AND SCREAMING FANS LINING THE STREETS. HERE, YOU ARE THE STAR, SO SAVOR EACH STEP OF THE WAY AND REVEL IN THE MOMENT. JOURNEY ON!
October 6, 2013
• • • • Flat, Scenic Course 2-Day Sports and Fitness Expo Technical Shirts Post- Race party with Coors Light, Bakers Crust Kickin’ Corn and Crab Chowder • Finisher Medals for all participants • Entertainment • Finisher items for all half marathon participants
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y the time this reaches you, most high school runners will be well into their pre-seasons and getting ready for the first cross country meet of the fall. Questions abound as plots from last season remain hanging: Who is going to make the big jump to the head of the pack? Who’ll peak in November? Will last year’s underclassmen continue on their trajectories? Which freshmen will make a splash? Where will Maryland hold its state meet this year? (see page 19) RunWashington convened a meeting of eight coaches to point of who is poised for a big cross country season. The participating coaches represented a cross section of schools in the area and, by consensus, they selected the top 10 runners in the Washington, D.C. area, the ones we’d send to a battle royale-style race against other metropolitan areas. The best of the best around here. They also selected top sevens remaining in each state- Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. These coaches also provided insight into what makes running in the D.C. area so special. A selection of their answers: “There’s so much parity, and that comes out of a very passionate and knowledgeable crop of coaches and parents who love running.” — STepheN hAyS, Walt Whitman high School, Md. “D.C. is focused on indoor and outdoor track, because that atmosphere is what the city kids like. It’s going to be interesting to see how we can bring some of the excitement, music, the hype, to cross country.” — MARViN pARkeR, Dunbar high School, D.C. “There are opportunities to find great races all over the east coast and it all centers around Washington. We have great races here, but it’s not too hard to go somewhere else and find a quality race.” — ChRiS pellegRiNi, West Springfield high School, Va.
EMILY KAPLAN — GEORGETOWN VISITATION PREP RUNWAShiNgTON PHOTO COURTESY OF KAPLAN
RunWashington’s coaches advisory panel will follow the runners throughout the season and update the list of runners to watch, which you can follow at runwashington.com. For those of you who made the list, congratulations. For those of you who wish you did, you know how to get there — train smart, take care of your body, treat your opponents with respect but don’t give them a blade of grass.
14 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
CaRoliNe BeaKes — BethesDa-CheVy Chase RUNWASHinGton photo CoURtesy oF BeaKes
CoaChes paNel Mike Mangan Chris Pellegrini Peter Sherry Scott Silverstein Stephen Hays Marvin Parker John Ausema Kevin Hughes
Lake Braddock West Potomac Herndon Winston Churchill Walt Whitman Dunbar Gonzaga Prep Georgetown Visitation
Va. Va. Va. Md. Md. D.C D.C D.C
all RUNWASHinGton team Boys Matthew Calem nickolas Causey Louis Colson Alex Corbett Collin Crilly tai Dinger MacKenzie Haight Chris Hoyle Jack Stoney Chase Weaverling GiRls Caroline Alcorta Caroline Beakes Hannah Christen Emily Kaplan Allie Klimkiewicz Bailey Kolonich Katie Roche Macey Schweikert Lucy Srour Megan Wilson sChool James Madison osbourn Park thomas Edison Lake Braddock Good Counsel St. Albans George C. Marshall Gonzaga oakton Poolesville sChool West Springfield Bethesda-Chevy Chase Lake Braddock Georgetown Visitation oakton Robert E. Lee Lake Braddock Robinson Churchill Sidwell Friends state Virginia Virginia Virginia Virginia Maryland D.C. Virginia D.C. Virginia Maryland state Virginia Maryland Virginia D.C Virginia Virginia Virginia Virginia Maryland D.C
loUis ColsoN — eDisoN (right) RUNWASHinGton photo By eD lUll
tai DiNGeR — st. alBaNs RUNWASHinGton photo By eD lUll
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 1 5
ALL D.C. TEAM Boys Griffin Colaizzi Joey Gaines Michael Jarosz Aiden Pillard Kevin Pulliam Abdur-Rahmaan Tommy Reese GiRLs Erin Bell Julia Ernest Jessie Foster London Freeland Rosalie Hunter Margaret Lindsay Katherine Treanor sCHooL Georgetown Day School St. Albans Gonzaga Georgetown Day School Gonzaga Theodore Roosevelt St. John’s sCHooL National Cathedral School Georgetown Day School Georgetown Visitation Dunbar National Cathedral School Georgetown Visitation Georgetown Day School
NiCKoLAs CAUsEy — osBoURN PARK RUNWASHINGTON PHoTo By ED LULL
ALL MARyLAND TEAM Boys Danniel Belay Colin Crilly David Fitzgerald Peter Horton Alex Riishojgaard Evan Woods Diego Zarate GiRLs Sophie El Masry Abby Fry Mia Gyau Grace Hanger Taylor Kozam Nora McUmber Lucie Noall ALL ViRGiNiA TEAM Boys Biruk Amare Anteneh Girma Andrew Goldman Brady Guertin Ryan McGorty Luke Sharkey John Tolbert GiRLs Sarah Angell Lauren Berman Hailey Dougherty Sara Freix Katie Genuario Katie Kennedy Katy Kunc sCHooL Robert E. Lee T.C. Williams Herndon Stone Bridge Chantilly Robinson Robinson sCHooL Washington-Lee Robinson Oakton Westfield West Potomac West Springfield Lake Braddock sCHooL Gaithersburg Good Counsel Churchill Bethesda-Chevy Chase Bethesda-Chevy Chase Whitman Northwest sCHooL Richard Montgomery Bethesda-Chevy Chase Bullis Richard Montgomery Good Counsel Bethesda-Chevy Chase Clarksburg
LUCy sRoUR — CHURCHiLL RUNWASHINGTON PHoTo By ED LULL
HANNAH CHRisTEN — LAKE BRADDoCK RUNWASHINGTON PHoTo By ED LULL
16 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
Sunday September 29, 2013
A run and walk for everyone.
10K, 5K, Fun Run
Interested in running your first 10K?
Check out www.fleetfeetgaithersburg to learn more about their 10K training program.
Manchester United jerseys are back...check the website for details.
Sixth Annual 8K Charity Race to Support the Equal Footing Foundation
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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2013 RACE TIME: 9 AM BURKE LAKE PARK
Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. West Potomac Park, Washington, D.C.
The Run! Geek! Run! 8K starts and finishes in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. This is a flat, fast course and all proceeds go to support the Equal Footing Foundation, a Virginia-based nonprofit focused on youth development and education. • Fast, scenic race course along the Potomac River • Bobbleheads and prizes for top overall finishers and age category winners • Trophies for the fastest Corporate teams • Geek glasses and Run! Geek! Run! shirts for all participants! Register today! Registration cost is $30 until September 1, 2013. From September 2 to October 4, 2013 the fee will be $35. For more information about the race or becoming a sponsor, email us at RunGeekRun@w2comm.com or call (703) 218-3555.
J O I N T H E F U N & RU N THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
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NOVEMBER 30, 2013
Picnic Shelter A 7315 Ox Road • Fairfax Station • Virginia 22039
Register at: go.nvar.com/DD2013
Click on the “Featured Races” tab or call 703.829.5316 $30 to pre-register. $15 For Kids One-Mile Fun Run. Donations appreciated.
All proceeds go to a housing fund to help distressed Northern Virginia citizens receive counseling & support services.
hcsnv.org | 703.372.5440
Visit www.RunGeekRun.net for more details
round the region, high school athletes log sweaty summer miles in preparation for the 2013 crosscountry season. Pavement, trails and maybe a track or two keep these runners in shape for a fall that will hold several changes, all of which affect the postseason. Washington, D.C., has a date for a real state championship. Statequalifiers in Maryland will test a new course. Realignment kicks in for Virginia high schools. For the most part, regular seasons remain intact, but that means these shifts are all the more important because runners will test them at a time when the biggest trophies and the brightest glories are in reach.
By Dustin RenwiCk
DC finDs a Date
College coaches looking for top recruits have an easy starting point in the state meet results. A champion doesn’t guarantee success, but a state meet title provides a glimpse of talent. Washington, D.C., hasn’t been able to provide a definitive champion in the past because the city doesn’t host an official state meet. The mayor’s office created the District of Columbia State Athletic Association in 2012 with the idea that sports should have parity and athletes should play by the same standards in the postseason. This year, the DCSAA will host a meet on November 2, a date between the championship races for the public and private schools in D.C. “We want to have a state championship at the end of the year like every other state does,” said Kenny Owens, DCSAA statewide special events coordinator of athletics. “With this type of structure, we’re able to give kids more exposure rather than the regular league championships.” The organization hosted its first state meet last year at Fort Dupont Park, but the date coincided with the Maryland and Washington, D.C., Private School Cross-Country Championships. Teams were forced to choose between races, an untenable position for any event claiming to hold a definitive state title contest. Only a dozen schools attended. Owens noted that one goal of the combined meet is to allow athletes to showcase their skills and give them a higher profile for college recruiters. “You might be the best in your league, but there’s another league or school across the city that has great athletes, too. It brings up the level of competition.” Right now, strictly comparing times between the events for the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association and the private school championships remains almost impossible.
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 19
D.C. public schools cross country runners can look forward to a bigger state meet. These runners are members of the Tenleytown Running Club summer program. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY JIMMY DALY
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That in itself stands as an illustration of the difficulty any athlete encounters when trying to claim the title of best runner in D.C. “I think people have bought into what we’ve created and what we’re trying to do,” Owens said. “They see structure is being built where people are playing by the same rules.” The DCSAA has named 46 schools in D.C. eligible to play under its guidelines. The organization encompasses public schools, public charter schools, private schools and parochial schools in the District. Membership is voluntary, and there’s no guarantee of everyone showing up at the start line in November. Yet a fair opportunity presents itself this year. “Our goal and our hope is that if you have a cross-country team, you want to participate,” Owens said. Marvin Parker, head coach at Dunbar, said the race makes sense given that D.C. stretches a mere 68 square miles. “It’s important to have our kids run together,” he said. “If you’re going to make an AllMet team, it’s easy to make when everybody’s had the opportunity to see each other.”
His team competed in the inaugural DCSAA championship last year, held at Fort Dupont Park on a different course than the DCIAA meet. A site has not yet been determined for this year’s race.
Hereford won’t Host in Maryland
“When you think Maryland cross-country, you think Hereford High School,” said Seann Pelkey, head coach at Quince Orchard and this year’s meet director for the 4A West region. The school has hosted every cross-country state championship since 1980 with the exception of two years. Exception number three comes in 2013. Hereford Athletic Director Mike Kalisz sent an email detailing the changes. Pelkey received the email on July 5 and sent it to local running websites to post. Kalisz wrote that “extensive school renovations” at the high school will force the cancellation of the Bull Run Invitational in September. The course itself won’t experience any changes until November, according to the email, but Kalisz wrote that other elements of the construction process “will not allow us to guarantee a safe environment for all athletes and spectators.” The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association has not yet identified a new course for this year’s state championship. “We’ve been spoiled at Hereford,” Pelkey said. “The staff at Hereford do everything to get that course ready. Anyplace else we go is going to involve a lot more work, I’d imagine.” With the course out for at least this year, though, coaches who have lobbied to move the meet in the past have another opportunity. Complaints against the course have focused on the challenging layout that includes plenty of hills and the fact that slower times at the event could negatively influence college recruiters or national meet selections. “It’ll be interesting to see if those people have more of a voice,” Pelkey said. “Hereford is one of those courses that never lets you settle into a rhythm. Teams may be physically gifted and ready to roll come state time, but the course beats them mentally.” Quince Orchard took second in the girls 4A race last year, and Pelkey said the new course won’t alter regular season training. But travel could become a factor in planning for the fall. He said the team might switch around its schedule to get a feel for a new course if there is a regular season race held at what would be the state site.
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 21
Virginia shuffles postseason structure
More than 300 high schools in Virginia all face the implementation of a statewide postseason overhaul. The changes come as part of the Virginia High School League’s realignment plan for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. The most distinct modification is that the state will switch from a three-group system to a six-class system. Under the old arrangement, schools were separated into the three groups. Schools with the smallest enrollments comprised Group A. Each group had four regions composed of districts, each with up to 11 schools. Now schools will be placed into classes, starting with the smallest enrollments in Class A. Classes A through 3A will split into east and west regions. Classes 4A through 6A will divide into north and south regions. All regions will contain four conferences, each with up to eight schools. Such semantic changes do carry actual consequences. For example, the Chantilly Chargers won the boys Group AAA state cross-country title in 2012. Chantilly ranks as the seventh-largest school in the state, according to March 2012 enrollment figures used by the VHSL’s executive committee. That puts the school in the new Class 6A, the designation for the largest high schools. “I don’t consider these changes to be an advancement,” said Chantilly head coach Matt Gilchrist. “I’m not happy about it. I think the realignment is a football- and basketballmotivated switch. From a track and cross-country opinion, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Several potential problems could arise with the new system when viewed from a crosscountry standpoint. The state championship for cross-country will hold six races instead of three, meaning a two-day meet. Plus, six teams from each region now qualify for the state race instead of four. That math increases the total number of teams running on the state course to 72, from 48 in the old structure. “What happens on Friday if it’s raining, and the course really gets destroyed?” Individual standards also undergo a revision in the VHSL guidelines. In the old setup, the top 15 runners in each region qualified to race at state. The new policy will cut the number of spots to 10, but those 10 individuals cannot be members of the six teams that qualify. “Now that kid in 17th, you wait until meets over, and did I get one of the 10 spots?” Gilchrist said. “Maybe that’s a blessing in disguise. I’ve had enough kids finish in my career in the 16th to 20th spots.” However, Gilchrist said the new rules need to be tweaked. If five runners from the same school were to qualify as individuals this fall, they could not score as a team at the state meet. “Don’t let them bring a full seven,” Gilchrist said, “but if you have five individuals, you should be able to score as a full team just like any other team.” Gilchrist said he’ll prepare his team as usual in light of the modifications. “You train the same way. You race the same way. You assess your team based on what you think they can do, and hopefully come postseason, that’s good enough to move on.” The realities of these changes mean area coaches and school administrators have to think about new schedules, different travel plans, and the general sense that questions n might outnumber answers until closer to the start of the school year.
22 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
LocaL cLub honors the fastest and the brightest
by MaggIe lloyd
ontgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC) honored four students this spring with its Outstanding High School Runner scholarship, an award created in 2007 to broaden the club’s outreach to younger runners. In 2012, the club doubled the number of recipients and award amount to two females and two males (they each received $2000) and removed the MCRRC membership requirement. As a way of celebrating well-rounded student-athletes, the final selection is not only based on running accomplishments, but also academics, school activities, career goals, and community service. Approximately 20 applications were submitted this year.
QuInce orchard hIgh school, gaIthersburg, Md.
“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” When Latour first learned from her coach that she was an award recipient, she said she felt “excited and thankful.” Latour has been playing soccer since she was 4, but realized her potential as a runner during middle school. The two sports, she said, are “completely different.” While she enjoys the team atmosphere of cross country, she admits she gets nervous for races and prefers a laid-back fun run. Her plans are to attend Towson University in Maryland to major in Education and compete for the varsity soccer team. An aspiring elementary or special education teacher, Latour volunteered 10 hours a week at a local elementary school; assisted the Wounded Warriors Project, which assists severely injured members of the military; and completed over 100 Student Service Learning hours. An honor roll student, Latour served as secretary of the American Sign Language Honor Society and was involved with the Future Educators Association. She participated in the Maryland state championship for both cross country and indoor track.
ISABELLE LATOUR RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO COURTESY OF LATOUR
l aura nakasaka
“Pain is all mental.”
bethesda-c hevy chase hIgh school, bethesda, Md.
With some encouragement from family and friends, Nakasaka decided to try cross country when she enrolled at BethesdaChevy Chase High School. “It was so tough training over the first summer,” she said. But as Nakasaka bonded with her teammates, she began to ease into the sport and appreciate it. Even when races didn’t go well, Nakasaka claims that cross country taught her the valuable lesson of how to push through the pain. “Now it’s hard for me not to run,” she said. “I love running so much.” An AP Scholar with Distinction, Nakasaka placed 13th at the 2012 4A Maryland State Cross Country Championship and received her team’s “Most Improved” honor and “Coach’s Award” twice. Her 3200 relay team has had three top-three finishes at the Maryland State Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Nakasaka will attend Carleton College, a liberal arts school in Northfield, Minn.
LAURA NAKASAKA RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO COURTESY OF NAKASAKA
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 25
albert e iN steiN high school, KeN siN gtoN, m d.
“I have always loved running. My parents tell me I never really walked.” Simpson posted the fastest finishes by a Montgomery County runner at the 2011 and 2012 3A Maryland Cross Country Championships and West Regionals. In 2012 he was named 1st Team All-Gazette Cross Country by the Montgomery Gazette. He wrote in his application essay about the valuable network of friends he made through cross country: “Running for Einstein in the summer before my freshman year let me already have a close group of friends when starting school. It was really nice that, walking in on my first day of school, I already had a group of people, in my grade and above, that I could recognize and talk to comfortably. Today, most of my close friends are on the team with me and practice can be a great time to mess around and have fun.” Simpson added that running not only allows him to channel his energy into something meaningful, but also provides some comic relief. “The combination of being near the front of most races and having unusual hair has led to a lot of recognition as ‘that fast blond haired kid.’ Having people shout ‘go Thor!’ from the side of the course or recognize me around town as a runner, while a little strange, feels like I do something pretty cool.”
albert e iN steiN high school, KeN siN gtoN, m d.
“Running is the perfect combination of peaceful quiet and pushing oneself to the limit.” Withbroe, a former soccer player, says he fell in love with running after trying cross country in middle school. He finished in the top 25 at the 3A Maryland State Cross Country Championships during his freshman, sophomore, and senior years, missing the entire championship season of his junior year due to a “freak injury.” His performances in running are only matched by those in the classroom. Withbroe is an AP Scholar with Distinction, a National Merit Commended Student, the sole recipient of this year’s Rensselaer Medal for accomplishments in math and the sciences at Albert Einstein High School, and an International Baccalaureate Diploma candidate. On top of that, he serves as team captain of the Albert Einstein High School Science Bowl team and secretary of Next Generation Maryland, while also participating in National Honor Society, the Young Democrats Club, and the Frisbee Club, which he co-founded. Withbroe says he has been greatly inspired by his family, both in running and in academics. “Both of my grandparents earned their Ph.D.s in the sciences, and I would like to follow in their footsteps. I am especially interested in the path of my maternal grandfather, who was a high level astrophysicist working for the Smithsonian and NASA,” he wrote in his application. “Running is an essential aspect of my life. It allows me to push myself against myself, a drive which bleeds out into my academics. My friend group centers around the team, an incredibly supportive collection of people. It also helps me connect with my dad and grandfathers, who were all runners in their day. I still run races n with my father when I can.”
High school seniors who are residents of Montgomery County are encouraged to learn more about the award at www.mcrrc.org/outstanding-high-school-runner. The deadline to apply for next year’s award is Dec. 10. Although running accomplishments are considered for selection, applicants are not required to have plans to run in college. For other young runners, MCRRC offers youth running series and issues Student Service Learning credit for students in Montgomery County Public Schools.
NICHOLAS SIMPSON (LEFT) AND BENJAMIN WITHBROE RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO COURTESY OF SIMPSON & WITHBROE
26 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
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Friday, aug. 16
Lost Dog 5k Bluemont Park Arlington, Va. 6:30 p.m.
WedneSday, aug. 21
tiDaL BasiN 5k, 3k & 1500 meteR Washington, D.C. 12 p.m. (noon)
Saturday, aug. 17
ComUs RUN CRoss CoUNtRy 5k Comus, Md. 5:30 p.m. BLUe CRaB BoLt tRaiL RUNNiNg seRies 10k Little Bennett Regional Park Clarksburg, Md. 8:00 a.m. ULtimate FootBaLL FaNatiC 5k aND 5 miLeR Capital Crescent Trail Washington, D.C. 10 a.m. the Rave RUN RFK Stadium Washington, D.C. 8:30 p.m.
Friday, aug. 23
Lost Dog 5k Bluemont Park Arlington, Va. 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, aug. 24
easteRN CoUNty 8k Martin Luther King Park Silver Spring, Md. 7:30 a.m. RUN ‘N mate 5k Alexandria, Va. 8 a.m.
Sunday, aug. 25
soUth Lakes 10k Reston, Va. 7:30 a.m. aNNaPoLis teN miLe RUN Navy Marine Corps Stadium Annapolis, Md. 7:30 a.m.
Sunday, aug. 18
LeesBURg 20k/5k Leesburg, Va. 7:30 a.m.
tueSday, aug. 20
PaUL thURstoN 4.5 miLe Burke Lake Park, Va. 6:45 p.m.
WedneSday, aug. 28
RooseveLt RUN 5k Arlington, Va. 7:00 p.m.
RUNWASHINGTON Photo By BRiaN W. kNight|sWimBikeRUNPHOTOGRAPHY
28 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
Saturday, aug. 31
KeNtlaNds/laKelaNds 5K Gaithersburg, Md. 8:00 a.m. Potomac Valley Games tRacK aNd Field meet Edison High School Alexandria, Va. 7:30 a.m.
RUN FoR the schools 5K Falls Church, Va. 8:00 a.m. VhtRc WomeN’s halF maRathoN tRail RUN Fountainhead Regional Park Fairfax Station, Va. 8:30 a.m
Saturday, Sept. 14
NaVy-aiR FoRce halF maRathoN aNd FiVe mileR Washington, D.C. 7:30 a.m. bUlldoG-eaGle 5K Washington, D.C. 8:30 a.m. abebe biKila day iNteRNatioNal Peace maRathoN & halF Washington, D.C. 9:00 a.m. moUNt VeRNoN tRail Race 4 Four Hunt Park Alexandria, Va. 9:00 a.m. 5K Race FoR d.c. Kids Arlington, Va. 9:15 a.m. dUlles day 5K oN the RUNWay Dulles Airport 7:30 a.m. RiNGiNG iN hoPe: FoR the saKe oF the childReN 5K/10K South Riding, Va. 8:00 a.m.
Monday, Sept. 1
laRRy Noel 15K aNd 3K Greenbelt, Md. 5:00 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 6
electRic RUN National Harbor, Md. 8:00 p.m.
Race FoR the FUtURe 5K Anacostia Park Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m. Fit, Fab & FeaRless 5K Allen Pond Park Bowie, Md. 8:00 a.m. RUN FoR RecoVeRiNG heRoes 5K/10K Carderock, Md. 3:30 p.m tiGeRlily PiNK boa 5K Fairfax Corner 8:00 a.m. PVi RUNFest 5K Fairfax, Va. 8:00 a.m.
team hoPe 5K Cameron Run Park Alexandria, Va. 9:00 a.m. cRUsadeR 5K Clifton, Va. 8:00 a.m. sUsco 8K Reston, Va. 9:00 a.m. PRiNce William FoRest PaRK 12-hoUR adVeNtURe tRail RUN Triangle. Va. 6:00 a.m. RUN ‘N mate 5K Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m.
WedneSday, Sept. 18
tidal basiN 5K, 3K & 500 meteR Washington, D.C. 12:00 p.m. (noon)
sUPeR h 5K McLean, Va. 7:00 a.m. saVaGe 7K Savage, Md. 8:30 a.m. cade Race FoR the Family Seneca Creek State Park Germantown, Md. 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 7
mcm cRossRoads 4 mileR Quantico, Va. 7:00 a.m. NatioNal PRess clUb beat the deadliNe 5K Washington, D.C. 7:30 a.m. aRliNGtoN 9-11 5K Arlington, Va. 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 21
chicK-Fil-a 5K Fairfax Corner, Va. 8 a.m. hoWaRd coUNty stRideRs metRic RUNNiNG FestiVal Columbia, Md. 8:00 am. KeNsiNGtoN 8K Kensington Town Hall, Md. 8:30 a.m. laKe NeedWood cRoss coUNtRy 10K Derwood, Md. 8:50 a.m. sPRiNt FoUR the cURe 5K Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m. PoolesVille day 5K Poolesville, Md. 8:00 a.m.
claReNdoN day 10K/5K Arlington, Va. 8:00 a.m. liGht the Way 5K Nationals Stadium Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m. edm 5K NiGht time FUN RUN Merriweather Post Pavilion & Grounds Columbia, Md. 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 8
laUReN’s RUN 5K Chevy Chase, Md. 9:00 a.m. damascUs FReedom 5K/10K Damascus, Md. 9:00 a.m. PaRKs halF maRathoN Rockville. Md. 7:00 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 15
ReVeNGe oF the PeNGUiNs 10 & 20 mileR Carderock, Md. 8:00 a.m.
CONTINUES ON PAGE 32
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 29
Kickoff to the popular Clarendon Day Festival!
fastest course in Northern Virginia
Run the double! Run both the 10K & 5K
SATURDAY, September 28, 2013
Clarendon, Arlington, VA
Don't miss our popular post-race pub crawl at Four Courts, Whitlow's and Mexicali Blues!
REGISTER AT RUNPACERS.COM
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29 5k OktObeRfest RUN Potomac, Md. 9:00 a.m. Laps fOR Lexi 5k Sandy Spring, Md. 8:30 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 5
Race fOR eVeRy cHiLd 5k Freedom Plaza Washington, D.C. 8:30 a.m. RUN! geek! RUN! 8k West Potomac Park Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m. NaVy fedeRaL 5k Vienna, Va. 9 a.m. meN agaiNst bReast caNceR 5k Bethesda, Md. 8:30 a.m. miNd yOUR HeaLtH 5k Cameron Run Regional Park Alexandria, Va. 9:00 a.m. fOUNdatiON fOR pHysicaL mediciNe aNd ReHabiLitatiON ReHab 5k National Harbor, Md. 7:00 a.m. Race tO Rid sids 5k Herndon, Va. 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 12
mcps cONsORtia cROsscOUNtRy cHampiONsHips Silver Spring, Md. 7:30 a.m. mattHeW HeNsON tRaiL RUN 5k Silver Spring, Md. 8:00 a.m. 2013 mOUNt VeRNON tRaiL Race 5 Fort Hunt Park Alexandria, Va. 9:00 a.m. gLORy days gRiLL cROss cOUNtRy 5k Bull Run Regional Park Clifton, Va. 8:30 a.m. cca 5k Leesburg, Va. 9:00 a.m. masON miLe fUN RUN Arlington, Va. 9:00 a.m.
WedneSday, Oct 16
tidaL basiN 5k, 3k & 1500 meteR Washington, D.C. 12:00 p.m. (noon)
Sunday, Sept 29
HydROcepHaLUs assOciatiON 5k West Potomac Park Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m. peRfect 10, 10k/10 miLeR Reston, Va. 8:00 a.m. RUN fOR tHe RefUge 5k Laurel, Md. 9:00 a.m. HOme RUN 10k & 5k Rockville, Md. 8:00 a.m. eLLeN’s RUN Chevy Chase, Md. 9:00 a.m. fiNisH tHe Race 5k Sterling, Va. 8:00 a.m. pReVeNt caNceR 5k Nationals Park Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 19
st. Rita 5k Four Mile Run Park Alexandria, Va. 9:00 a.m. faLcON & bRUiN 5k Manassas, Va. 8:00 a.m. bLack HiLL 10k xc Germantown, Md. 9:00 a.m.
Sunday, Oct. 20
aRmy 10 miLeR Arlington, Va. & Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m. sOmeRset back tO scHOOL 8k Chevy Chase, Md. 9:00 a.m. backyaRd bURN 5/10 miLe tRaiL Laurel Hill, Va. 9:00 a.m.
Sunday, Oct. 13
bOO! RUN fOR Life 10k West Potomac Park Washington, D.C. 8:00 a.m. Race fOR a caUse 8k Arlington, Va. 8 a.m. mONsteR mask 5k Washington, D.C. 9:00 a.m. RUN tO RemembeR 5k Washington, D.C. 7:30 a.m. backyaRd bURN 5/10 miLe tRaiL Lake Fairfax Park Reston, Va. 9:00 a.m.
Sunday, Oct. 6
WiLsON bRidge HaLf maRatHON Mount Vernon, Va. 7:00 a.m. cROss cOUNtRy ON tHe faRm 5k Derwood, Md. 8:30 a.m. RUN ZOmbie RUN 5k Sterling, Va. 9:30 a.m.
Friday, Oct. 4
take a sick day & RUN a 5k & 8k Capital Crescent Trail Washington, D.C. 10:30 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 26
HOpe fOR HeLp 5k Lorton, Va. 8:00 a.m. gHOst, gObLiNs & gHOULs spOOktacULaR 5k Leesburg, Va. 4:00 p.m.
32 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
Sunday, Oct. 27
MaRiNe CoRps MaRathoN/10k Washington, D.C. 7:30 a.m. / 8:00 a.m. GobliN Gallop 5k Fairfax Corner, Va. 8:30 a.m. spRoUt 5k Broadlands, Va. 9:00 a.m.
VeteRaNs Day 10k sUNDay, NoV. 10 Washington, D.C. 8:00am .Us NatioNal RoaD RaCe ChaMpioNships sUNDay, NoV. 17 Alexandria, Va. 7:00am JiNGle all the Way 8k sUNDay, DeC. 8 Washington, D.C. 9:00am FaiRFax FoUR tUesDay, DeC. 31 Fairfax, Va. 6:00pm The preceeding is a truncated version of the comprehensive calendar of races available at RUNWashiNGtoN.CoM. Listings are edited for length and chosen for their proximity to Washington D.C. It is wise to confirm event details with organizers before registering for an event. Dates and times are subject to change.
RUNWASHINGTON photo by bRiaN W. kNiGht|sWiMbikeRUNPHOTOGRAPHY
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 33
se 20 a h c y e k r u t
10 kilometer Race, 2 mile Fun Run, 50 meter Tot Trot
thanksgiving morning - Nov. 28, 2013 sponsored in part by register on-line
Continuing to serve...
BY REBECCA FRITCHMAN
cross country team is more than the seven people who race. Building it requires convincing teenagers to get off the couch and put themselves through some discomfort.
While the buzz of the running world often focuses on professional racing, thousands of high school runners in every state train and compete with unparalleled dedication and enthusiasm. The high school years are when young runners can learn the principles of running and ﬁnd a true love for the sport. That dream starts with getting kids out for the team, and that job falls to the coaches, who must recruit and inspire young athletes with the right combination of insanity and zen so perfect for a cross-country runner. “You need an athlete who can put their nose where it doesn’t belong and keep it there,” Lake Braddock coach Mike Mangan says. Several coaches identiﬁed a few qualities they sought in their harriers. Self motivation: It’s non-negotiable. A coach cannot be constantly watching one athlete during a race or training. Thus, success depends largely on the individual efforts of the team members and their ability to motivate themselves and each other.
Wilson High School’s (D.C) DESMOND DUNHAM is renowned for building enthusiastic and talented cross country teams. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY JIMMY DALY
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 35
Intelligence: This is not about being able to calculate the drag when drafting off of opponents during races (although knowing how to calculate splits doesn’t hurt). A runner’s intelligence comes down to being able to tell the difference between pushing to the limit and pushing to the point of injury. Runners also must understand how their decisions and actions outside of practice affect their running and vice versa. Athleticism: A natural aptitude for long distance running is not required to be successful. Coaches, however, do look for athletes who are willing to be students of the sport and apply what they learn towards consistent improvement. Dedication: Eagerness to learn from the coach and buy into the system is essential. There are many different ways to get to the same result. Half the battle is believing in and being excited about what you are doing! Cross country is ultimately a mixing of many mindsets. You have the kids who are comfortable in their own skin and happy by themselves on a trail away from civilization. You also have the multi-sport athletes who are more focused on being on a team, who have that killer instinct, and who are laserfocused on guts and glory. To interest students to lace up their sneakers, Walter Johnson High School coach Tom Martin said, “We try to get
the students to identify with the history of the program and then want to be part of that history. I still enjoy unlocking every puzzle. With each potential athlete I come across, the first question I must answer is, ‘What brought you to us?’” Understanding why someone joined the team helps him better understand how to motivate them. “I try to establish a family dynamic,” Mangan said. “We don’t have a large pipeline for recruiting or anything, but I do try to talk to each of the 8th grade physical education classes. Honestly though, the kids on the team are the best recruiters through word of mouth. As coaches, we set the tone and the kids are the ones that make it happen. My team leaders organize team bonding activities, provide encouragement to younger kids, and are also my pipeline into what is going on team dynamics wise. Without them, having our family wouldn’t be possible.” Family as it may be, we all know that every once in awhile some family members drive us bonkers. How is it then that the coaches keep the kids happy, excited, and motivated? Mangan has a few morale-boosting activities. “We have our Run the Monuments Day, unique to our area,” he said. “We also take a big team trip each year. You have to earn your spot, but it’s a great chance to have the trip of a lifetime with your
teammates. This year the trip was Mesa, Ariz., last year it was to Woodlands, Texas. We’ve been all over, really. The girls team also has an awesome tradition: Mike’s Night. They get all dressed up (alumni come, too) and then head to dinner at Mike’s American Grill in Springfield. There is also Camp Varsity in Madison, Va.” Martin said, “We have been going to the Manhattan Invitational since 1993. We take the top 9 boys and top 9 girls, get to tour Manhattan on Friday, and race on Saturday. It is a great motivator for the kids to get the kids to make the NYC trip. I am always surprised by who steps up.” Another thing coaches look for in potential athletes is balance. “School, family, and responsibility are always first,” Martin said. “Every athlete has to figure out how to fit the training into their life and not the other way around. The desire to train and be the best runner can never be larger than the desire to be the best at life. We hope that learning about hard work and results becomes a theme in their life.” Mangan agrees. “The goal is be renaissance people,” he said. “Running is a part of life, not life itself. This past year, more than 80 percent of the athletes on the team were on the honor roll. Of the top seven, the girl’s GPA was well over 4.0 and the n boys were just under.”
36 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
Annandale (Va.) Coach DAVe O’HARA RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY BRIAN W. KNIGHT|SWIMBIKeRUNPHOTOGRAPHY
By DAVID PITTMAN
t doesn’t take much prying to get Dave O’Hara talking fondly about his old high school track and cross country coach. His experience nearly 20 years ago at Mt. Lebanon High School in suburban Pittsburgh laid the foundation for his running and coaching career. His coach, Mike Agostinella, has served as his role model. O’Hara followed his mentor through Slippery Rock University’s track program and into the coaching ranks. O’Hara, 38, is now the boys cross country coach at Annandale High School in Annandale, Va. “Everything I’ve learned about coaching, I learned through Coach
Agostinella,” O’Hara said. “It’s just really neat to see me try to apply some of his theories and some of his beliefs.” So when he received an offer a few years ago to hold a virtual dual meet against his old team, O’Hara didn’t take long to jump on it. Mt. Lebanon High School’s success in Pennsylvania is something O’Hara eyes for his Annandale Atom runners, a squad that finished seventh in last fall’s district championship. The rules of the virtual dual meet are simple. The two teams run on the same day in their respective towns, nearly 250 miles apart — both around flat-ish athletic fields with few turns. It’s
38 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
Coach Mike AgostiNellA (center) announces the day’s workout plans to his Mt. lebanon team in Pittsburgh. today’s lesson: “Be in the head when the caterpillar splits.” RUNWASHINGTON PHoto BY osCAR sHUtt
scored like a regular meet, with the top five finishers scoring, sixth and seventh displacing, and the low score winning. “They’re pushing themselves to a race limit as opposed to just a time trial,” O’Hara said. “They might not care as much if somebody else on their team is pushing them or beating them. When they’re thinking about beating another person they’re racing two states away, that motivates them a little bit more than just a regular two-mile time trial.” Agostinella had never conducted such a meet before, but the concept was fairly common years ago, before the Internet, when coaches would mail results to opposing coaches. Mt. Lebanon, or Lebo, is 2-0 so far, but don’t let O’Hara fool you into thinking it doesn’t mean something to beat his former coach and school. “We got beat pretty badly both years, so I’m hoping this year we can have a better outcome,” O’Hara said, who has been coaching Annandale since 2009. “I’m trying to build a culture and a history at my high school.” The Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils went 13 years without a dual-meet loss starting when O’Hara ran there in high school. They have won four district championships, have been runner-up more times than that, and won the 1998 state championship when Agostinella was named coach of the year. But to him, it’s about developing the entire team. “However that shakes out in terms of winning is fantastic,” Agostinella said. It’s a culture O’Hara hopes to achieve with his team: doing your best means running faster than other squads. Runners from the respective teams look at past postal meet results and use it as fuel for training during muggy summer training runs. And as the season wears on, those same runners keep tabs to see how the other runners progress. “They love looking at the results and the statistics of all the kids they’re running against,” O’Hara said. “It’s just a cool cross-state connection that they can make.” Despite having nearly 70 boys come out for the cross country team and what O’Hara sees as some gifted runners, Annandale hasn’t had the success the Pittsburgh-area school has. “What’s missing there is really
instilling the belief and having the kids buying into the program,” O’Hara said about his running crew. “That’s one of the things that Coach Agostinella did while I was there. He was able to coach the kids up and have all that positive energy come out and they really believed you could do anything.” Coach Agostinella stresses the improvements his mid-pack runners achieve. “My overall philosophy,” Agostinella said, “is to help them develop to their potential to the fullest…That carries on and carries over into all facets of their life, not just running but hopefully it carries on into their adult life and what they do for a living and how they deal with developing their kids and so on.” “Each kid felt very special,” O’Hara recalled. “When Coach A was talking to you, you knew he really cared for you.” That mindset was implanted in O’Hara early on in his running days and has carried over into his coaching career. “He was always a team guy, and in distance running that’s kind of hard to find,” Agostinella said. “Distance runners are such rugged individualists. It’s kind of hard for them to become team orientated.” During his freshman track season in 1992, O’Hara was a football player running sprints — like any good Western Pennsylvania kid — when he fell into an 800-meter race late in the year. O’Hara ran so well Agostinella
ended up putting him on the 3200-meter relay team for the district championship. From there, the tall, gangly football player was hooked. He dropped football and by the end of his sophomore cross country season was one of the top three runners. “It was exciting to see him go on and do some great things and then go into health and phys ed and continue working in the sport,” Agostinella said. O’Hara still runs competitively in Washington, D.C. with the Georgetown Running Club, known as “Dave O” to his teammates. He even fits a few cross country races into his schedule. The two coaches talk several times a year, exchanging ideas and catching up. What started out as Agostinella helping O’Hara in coaching has turned into two coaches exchanging ideas. “That’s part of the long-range excitement of having been a coach, some of these kids that go on and continue the sport and continue their interest in helping other young people,” Agostinella said. This year, O’Hara hopes to have a deeper, more well-rounded squad. In year’s past, stars like Ahmed Bile – who now runs for Georgetown University – have led the pack for Annandale. He has tried unsuccessfully to get his top boys up to Pittsburgh for a race against Mt. Lebanon. Inter-state sanctioning stood in the way, so for now, this n postal meet will have to do.
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 39
Racing can be neRve-wRacking. RemembeR to enjoy Running
By DICKSON MERCER
n the 1980s - before Internet forums - Langley High School’s Erin Keogh was the fastest high school distance runner in the country. Now Erin Breitenbach, she recently did a Google search of her maiden name and said she found these “ridiculous things on some blog.” Her success, someone wrote, was a product of running an extra 10 miles on top of whatever her team did that day. “I was, like, who has time for that? I can’t run 50 miles a week without getting injured,” she said. No, Erin Keogh was a visualizer. “I was doing visualization before it was cool,” she said. “I heard this was something people had to learn how to do and I couldn’t believe it. It was so simple. The night before races, I would lie there and go through the entire race in my mind.” High school running, for many runners, is an introduction to competitive running, but also to running culture, to the wackiness of the sport, and to one of life’s great honors: being on a cross-country team. Visualization was Keogh’s way, in a sense, of keeping herself centered, of embracing the competition without letting it overwhelm her. There needs to be some balance. There needs to be some fun. As runners, coaches and parents around here have figured out, there’s a good time to be had on the cross country team.
AN INDIvIDuAl SpORt fOR thE whOlE fAMIly
When Polly Morgan’s son Tommy joined the cross country team at Chantilly High School, she didn’t think her family would be spending the next six years at tailgates, in horse fields and surrounded by dozens of new friends. Tommy was a basketball player without a team, but he found one as a harrier, even if he wasn’t in the top seven. His brother Bobby followed, and just last year, sister Christie. Polly saw so many positives in her kids running she rarely knows where to start. “They come to school part of a social group, and they’re all good kids,” she said. “I don’t think there are many days we don’t have five-to-20 kids in our house. The team is their social life, and it’s one of the few teams that are basically co-ed.” The nature of distance running, discipline and delayed gratification, were great lessons for her kids, taught and demonstrated in a
Chantilly mom Polly MURRay masquerades as her daughter, Christie, at last fall’s Concorde District meet. RUNWASHINGTON PHoTo By ED lUll
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 41
The Oakton girls psyche one another up with a pre-race cheer. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY ED LULL
way that didn’t feel forced. “The team is so supportive of everyone else,” she said. “The kids who are finishing toward the back are as team-oriented as the kids winning the state meet. And the fastest boys cared about how their teammates were coming along.” Though their sons were content running on the junior varsity team, Polly and her husband Tim have a whole new animal on their hands in Christie, who made the varsity team last year as a freshman. “She was a basketball player too, we had no idea she’d be this fast,” Morgan said. “Even though we’ve done this for three years, it’s going to be a whole different experience now.”
Runners need to train. There are no short cuts. So what is the best way to motivate high school runners to put in their summer training? “I try to make the summer running as simple as possible for the kids so they don’t have to think,” said Kellie
Redmond, the eight-year head cross country and track coach at Wootton High School in Rockville. Redmond puts together training plans for all of her athletes, boys and girls. Then, since the team cannot practice officially over the summer, Redmond relies on captains like Foster Ting, Declan Devine, Dana Sung, Lexi Levenson and Josh Messing to host unofficial practices. She has a team listserv, and she’s not above calling or texting or emailing team members who need a bit of a nudge. “But by far I think it is the expectation of the team that keeps them going,” she said. Redmond’s training plans make putting together a summer training plan easy, said Patrick Munro, a rising junior at Wootton and a member of a 3200-meter relay team that won a state title last spring. Additional structure is provided by the team captains’ sort-ofoptional summer training runs. And it’s fun, he said: “Running with friends is much easier than running alone and helps the distance
go by faster. Sometimes we get food after our runs or go swimming. It gives us something to look forward to after.” Ultimately, Munro added, “The main motivation for me is knowing that whatever I do during the summer will have a direct effect on my season.”
ExcEl at forgEttIng
Michael Murray’s standout performances for Gaithersburg High School in Maryland included finishing second in the state in the 3200 and being a part of an outdoor track team that won the 1998 state championship. He went on to be a top runner at St. Francis University in Pennsylvania, and continues to race at a high level locally while working at the U.S. Department of Transportation. “You will have plenty of good races and bad races,” Murray advised. “Forget about the bad ones by the time you wake up the next morning. The most successful people I know have a short memory of bad days.”
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And be pATienT
Dave Berdan of Owings Mills, Md., recently won a marathon in 2:22:19, averaging 5:26 per mile. A week later he won a road 5K in 14:55 and a 10K in 32:22. At the same event. On the same day. The Pennsylvania native’s high school best for 5K? Slower than what he averaged in the marathon. “I definitely think it’s important to not focus on results in high school,” he said, and simply enjoy being a part of a team. That said, if Berdan could take a do-over, he would follow Munro’s advice and run through the summer and on the weekends. “I was extremely under-trained,” he admitted. Now the head cross country coach at the Garrison Forest School, Berdan urges the members of his girls team to train three to five days a week and do some striders. “I have tried getting them to follow a strict schedule, but then I thought back to myself and realized that is asking a lot out of a high schooler!”
Another top local runner and be-patient advocate, Chris Sloane, also recommends not burning yourself out in practice. Sloane ran for Quince Orchard High School, finishing 12th in the 2000 Maryland State Cross Country Championships. He joined the team his freshman year after getting cut from the soccer team. “I think it is important to not get caught up in racing workouts,” he said, “but rather aim for the specific target of the workout and save the racing for the races themselves.”
A (TeAm) experience One cAn’T refuse
Last fall, Georgetown Day School’s boys and girls cross country teams both won the Washington, D.C./ Maryland Private Schools Cross Country Championships for the first time in school history. Thirteen years ago, though, when Coach Anthony Belber took over the program, he had but a dozen boys and just one girl. This fall? Belber expects to have about
35 on each squad. “Our program,” he explained, “has always focused on growing a love for the sport and exposing as many children as possible to the sport … Our goal is to develop a lifelong love of running and exercise.” One of the team’s top runners, Emily Vogt, a rising senior, joined the team last year. She was a longtime soccer player who also plays basketball and lacrosse. Vogt was struck by the cohesive of the team. When signed up for cross country she figured the highlight of her season would be setting a personal best or winning a medal. “But it’s moments like when we’re all cheering in our sports bras for the GDS boys team at an important invitational, or when we’re chatting and stuffing our faces on the bus back from a race.” In those moments, Vogt said, times and performances are irrelevant. “You’re just a part of the team, which makes you a part of everything n we accomplish,” she said.
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November 16, 2013
ew to cross country and looking for the right spike? A pair of buyers for local specialty running stores point out a few elements to help when you go to find the right pair. Dave MilleR (Potomac River Running): Older cross country spikes had thicker midsoles for more cushioning, aggressive outsoles for grip, the upper materials were a little heavier and rugged. In the mid-2000s, shoe manufacturers started building high-end cross country spikes and put in a comfortable outsole. MaRk DRath (Pacers Running Stores): Rather than taking a trail shoe and knocking it down to the bare minimum. DM: There’s a trickle-down effect, and elements from a high-end spike from 2005 are in “regular stuff” now, like the Saucony Kilkenny, the Nike Rival XC and the New Balance 700 series. They’ve taken the upper material and made it lighter. MD: The Saucony Carrera is derivative of their top selling track spike. It has a really soft rubbery outsole, but the top of a track spike. It was their response to the Nike Victory XC, and they were the first ones to go to that really high-end spike. Spikes in general are narrower so they can cut down on material and Saucony has more room in the forefoot than Nike. DM: Another fitting issue to consider — Nike’s flywire structure is very tight, so it’s not good for a wider foot. The Saucony upper is heat-molded and gives you more flexibility. MD: New Balance’s 900 was one of Pacers’ betterselling high school spikes; the 5000 XC is the new high-end model that competes with the Victory and the Carrera. They are going to feel closer to a racing flat with some spikes attached than the full-on spike. The transition from a training shoe is a little gentler. It’s a good entry-level, first spike. DM: With the Nike Rival XC, you can run on any part of your foot. With the high-end ones, they’re very aggressive, so they’re designed for the kids who are going to be running on their forefoot for n a while. It’s good for beginners, too.
SaUCONY CaRReRa RUNWASHINGTON PhOtO COURteSY OF SaUCONY
NeW BalaNCe 900 RUNWASHINGTON PhOtO COURteSY OF NeW BalaNCe
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 45
By JAMIE COREy & CHARLIE BAN
s bodies, schedules and lives change over time, matching their high school selves is a challenging goal, but one many adult runners embrace. A few local runners tested themselves at this July’s Crystal City Twilighter 5k to see how they stacked up. Arlington’s Audra Bandy’s fondest memories of high school cross country all involve other runners. A group of runners that shares the same schedule, spirit and, most importantly, appetite, will inevitably develop resilient bonds. Sometimes this camaraderie even extends beyond team lines. “I was running a cross country race and knew that I was one of the last people on the course,” Bandy, who ran at Pittsburgh’s Shady Side Academy, says. “I was able to catch another competitor and we kept going back and forth. Finally, we just decided to cross the finish line together. Even though we were on different teams, we had helped each other finish the race.” She came into the race worried about her leg, but she managed to still run the race, when, not a half hour before, she feared she’d be sidelined. Annandale’s Luis Aguir moved to Fairfax County and started his sophomore year at JEB Stewart High School, but didn’t join the cross country team until his senior year. Every two weeks, he dropped two minutes from his 5k time, getting down to 22 minutes. Since then his work schedule has largely kept him off the roads, but he made a comeback last fall, breaking 22 minutes in November. He added a few pounds over the winter months, but he was back on track in the early summer. A chest cold caught up with him before Crystal City, but he still ran within a minute of his goal. “My goal is to hit a five minute mile this year,” he said. “I feel like I’ll be better now than when I was in high school.” He’s taking that enthusiasm to start a group of runners who frequent Lake Barcroft. Thomas Newby was a sprinter at Maryland’s Northwest High School. He crossed over to long distance running because he loves to compete, and he’s handling it pretty well, with a 20:55 at the Crystal City. “I ran my fastest mile and two-mile on my way to my 5k,” he said. “It was awesome. I know I have a lot of people finishing ahead of me, but that’s just pushing me. I just want to compete.” n
THOMAS NEWBY stretches before the Crystal City Twilighter 5k. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY BRIAN KNIGHT | SWIMBIKERUN PHOTOGRAPHY
46 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
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ZACH HAWKINS forges through the mud at the Run with the June Bugs cross country race. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY KEN TROMBATORE
48 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
For adults, No time machiN e required to revisit cross couN try ruNNiN g
By J amie corey
Dahlem says. “Listening to the Violent Femmes on our Walkman and planning our weekend adventures. I really feel that our adult love of running is what brought us together again and has strengthened our bond.” Such was the case for Emily Cole and Erin Masterson. They met in middle school, and stayed close friends throughout high school in Annapolis, where they ran all four years of cross country and track together. They stayed in touch during college, and, 10 years later, both are in same city again, training for the Marine Corps Marathon. “Building such a strong bond as we did while high school cross country runners enabled this close relationship,” Masterson says. “And I know we’ll always have it. Emily is a loyal, dedicated training partner.” After rekindling their running relationship, Masterson and Cole have gone for long runs almost every weekend. While their training and lives have evolved, 10 years later, so, too, have their conversations, which Masterson says are invaluable. “Now we talk much less about homework and teachers and more about relationships, family job stress, career changes, weddings, babies and upcoming races,” Masterson says. “A weekly session of ‘girl talk’ has been a lifesaver for all of us during challenging times and an opportunity to share our joy during exciting periods. Running together has allowed us to share some of the most important moments n of our lives.” LocatioN Great Falls, Va. Potomac, Md. Howard County, Md. Gaithersburg, Md. Bethesda, Md. Comus, Md. Derwood, Md. Centreville, Va. Derwood, Md. Gaithersburg, Md.
ore than 100 runners’ feet hitting the ground on an open field toward wooded trails. Trudging up a hill, giving every last bit of effort with legs and shoes covered in mud. A strong storm just minutes away from plummeting the course; nobody paying it any mind. Team spirit filling the air as competitors burst into the finish chute and turn back around to cheer for their friends. It may seem like a typical high school cross country race, but the racers were fathers and mothers with jobs and mortgages. They were finishing the Montgomery County Road Runners Club’s Running with the June Bugs, not a dual meet against a rival school. Though they traveled to the meet in sedans and SUVs instead of school buses, these adults were enjoying racing off road, just like they did decades ago. There’s no time machine required to relive a race through mud, ankle-deep creeks and gruesome hills. Rodney Rivera of Poolesville, Md. is rediscovering cross country years after competing in high school. He’s run the MCRRC Cross Country Series for the past two years, and says he enjoys its close-knit community and the toughest course out there: the Black Hill 10K. Leonardo Placios of Hyattsville, Md., a member of the Spanish American Running Club and a cross-country runner since he was 14, said cross country is
crucial to improving as a runner. “Running on these ... courses improves our speed and endurance,” he said. “When you train on these kinds of courses, you are faster and stronger. And it’s fun.” Of course, things change between high school and whatever now is. Their days of essay writing and science quiz prep now behind them, many adult cross country runners now balance their passion for the sport with taking care of a family. Cross country - and Facebook - has reunited former high school teammates Colleen Dahlem and Anna Savage. And while most high school friendship reunions take place over coffee, Dahlem and Savage first reconnected during a run in Great Falls Park — the first of many more runs to come. Leading up to the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA and the Boston marathons, they trained together on Beach Drive. “We are both incredibly supportive of one another,” Dahlem says. “Anna met me at mile 6 in [the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon] as it headed through Adams Morgan. She ran the rest of the 20 miles by my side handing me water when I needed it. Then I headed up to Boston to cheer her on. I was so proud of her amazing accomplishment.” As Dahlem and Savage create a new chapter in their friendship, Dahlem says they will never forget high school cross country. “Some of our fondest memories are on the bus on the way to meets,” MoNth April May June-August June August August September October October December
There are plenty of cross country races open to adults in the Washington area. Here are some. Check the calendar at www.runwashington.com for more information.
Race Spin in the Woods Run Aware 5k Howard County Striders Friday Night XC Series Run With the June Bugs DC Road Runners Cross Country Comus Run Lake Needwood Glory Days Invitational Cross Country on the Farm Seneca Slopes 8k
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 49
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Maddie Wittich signs her National Letter of intent to run cross country and track at the University of Richmond. RUNWASHINGTON PhOtO BY JULie Wittich
Rising fRosh weighs pR os and cons of Running colle giately
By jacque line klimas
hile she was worried about increased weekly mileage, fitting into a new team, and balancing running with schoolwork her first time away from home, Maddie Wittich’s decision to run in college was ultimately easy. “I can tell from the way I feel during my runs that I have so much left in me and I feel like I need to keep going,” said Wittich, who is entering her freshman year at the University of Richmond. “I still want to improve so much and get new PRs and I know that college will offer that to me.” Wittich knew during her freshman year at West Springfield High School in Virginia that running in college was an option, having watched two of her senior teammates go on to run at Virginia Tech. She didn’t seriously consider it, though, until her junior year, when she began receiving letters from college coaches and her dad, a marathoner, encouraged her to look at her opportunities. She toured Lafayette College, Virginia Tech and Richmond without contacting the coaches first. “If I liked the school itself, I’d contact the coach to see if the program was interested in me,” she said. “That’s what I did … because I wanted to make sure I liked the school first.” She ended up visiting Richmond several times before contacting the coaches. The first was just a campus drive-through with her dad. When she
liked the campus, her mother took her back for an official guided tour and visit. She fit firmly into one of Herndon High School coach Peter Sherry’s typical prospective collegiate runner categories: She knew where she wanted to go and thought about competing later. Other categories include students choosing a program based on the amount of scholarship money available and students who choose their college based on whether they can run on the team. Wittich contacted the coaches during her junior year and the following summer made her official visit. The next fall, she had a partial scholarship offer and plans made for the next few years. The Springfield native is one of three new freshman girls to join the team this year, including Osborn High School’s Emma Nowak. Her approach to picking a college didn’t surprise her coach, Chris Pellegrini. “She’s always been very mature,” he said. “Her teammates call her either ‘mom’ or ‘grandma’ because she’s the one they look to for leadership.” With fewer than 20 women on the Richmond Spiders, the coaches’ personalized attention made her feel like she wouldn’t get lost in the crowd. “At a lot of big schools, I think there are so many athletes that the coaches have to focus on that they don’t get personal focus,” she said. “Richmond
doesn’t have that many athletes, so [the coaches] fit the program to you and make it very personalized. The coaches care a lot about each individual athlete.” Wittich is already working on a personalized training plan designed by Richmond coaches Lori and Steve Taylor and assistant coach Jon Molz. It includes speed workouts, strides, and longer runs once a week combined with other basic runs to hit about 40 miles a week. Her total weekly mileage will increase to about 60 by the end of the summer. She comes from a lower-mileage high school program that emphasized quality. While college would mean more miles no matter where she went, she was looking for a college program with a similar philosophy. “It’ll be higher mileage, but I’m pretty sure I’m ready for that. If something starts to hurt, I’ll contact my coaches,” said the athlete, who remained injuryfree through four years of competitive high school running. Other things that influenced her decision to continue running in college included the opportunity to run with and against skilled athletes, the chance to travel with the team, and the outlet of a team to make new friends. There were some negatives she had to weigh in her decision. She won’t be able to go out every weekend like a lot of
AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013 | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | RUN WASHINGTON | 51
Maddie Wittich (center) races the 1600 meter at the 2012 Virginia high School League championships at SportsBackers Stadium in Richmond. She ran 5:04, her personal record. RUNWASHINGTON PhOtO daVe Watt
college freshman, and will need to focus on eating well, taking care of herself, and getting a good night’s rest. However, she said she’s already gotten used to living this kind of lifestyle after running four years competitively in high school. Newfound freedom, and its pitfalls, are a major obstacle for freshman student athletes. Debbie Wilson, associate athletic director for academic affairs at George Mason University, said time management skills are the crucial link between success and struggling with college academics and athletics. “College athletes are typically sleep deprived,” she said. “They need the same seven or eight hours as a normal collegeaged person, but they need additional resting time to recover from what they’re doing to their bodies.” Wittich is a little worried about balancing school work with training her first time away at school. The Richmond team practices from 7:30 to 10 a.m. every day, with additional time spent cross training solo each afternoon. “It’s a different team, a new set of coaches to get used to, and adjusting to college at the same time,” she said. Luckily, Wilson said, most colleges, and especially Division I schools, have fulltime academic support staff on hand to assist students with their college transition. That said, collegiate athletes tend to graduate on time more than non-athletes and with higher grades.
While Wittich may be running more miles and more hours, she won’t be competing as often. While high school runners have races every week, college athletes only compete every other week, she said. Now that she’s formally committed to Richmond and is preparing to get started training with the team in August, she’s happy with her decision. “I’m very confident with my decision,” she said. “I believe I’ll have an absolutely awesome time, I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the Taylors’ program.” She can only hope her college experience mirrors her running career thus far. “I joined cross country my freshman year to make friends before going into high school, because I’d heard how scary it is and knew it would be good to join a sports team,” she said. “I knew there would be great people and that’s exactly what I got. I love team and will miss them. It was a great atmosphere, the coaches were fantastic. It opened up a lot of great opportunities for me.” Wittich is a member of the Class of 2017, but she expects to be a runner for life. “I am unbelievably happy I decided to start my freshman year because I’ve really come to love the sport,” she said. “I will definitely continue to do it. I’d love to do a marathon at some point when I’m done with college, that’s one of my big goals.”
For athletes interested in competing collegiately, Herndon High School Coach Peter Sherry, who has 11 former athletes running collegiately now, has a few pieces of advice: • Pick the school regardless of who is coaching, or even regardless of whether you are running. “Going to school somewhere is different if you’re running than if you’re injured. Like the actual school you choose.” • When looking at a college, don’t spend too much time getting to know the juniors and seniors on the team. “They’ll be gone by the time you get there. Hang out with the freshmen and sophomores, they’ll be your teammates for a few years.” • If you want to run in college, you can make it happen. “It might be a matter of going somewhere out of state or a smaller school, but there are opportunities for everyone to run for a college team.”
52 | RUN WASHINGTON | RUN WASHINGTON.COM | AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2013
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f anyone knew what the Footlocker Cross Country Championships were all about, it was Sean McGorty.
In 2011, as a Chantilly High School junior, he earned a trip to San Diego with a sixth place finish in the south regional meet. He had heard all about the race from Ahmed Bile, an Annandale Atom making his second trip. Two of his high school mentors who ran for Chantilly, Brad Siragusa and Eric Post, were Footlocker veterans with plenty of advice. As proud as they all were, nobody was quite as thrilled that he’d be staying at the Hotel del Coranado as his mother. And it wasn’t just because she was proud of her son. Vicki Verinder McGorty stayed there herself in 1983, when, as a senior at Langely High School, she raced Balboa Park’s course for the Kinney National Championships, before it was run by Footlocker. “I was outkicked my junior year and didn’t go,” she said. “Watching Sean kick it in his junior year, I was so nervous he wouldn’t make it. It’s such a cool experience and I’m so glad he got to go twice.” They were the first parent-child tandem to have qualified for the high school national championship meet, which underscores the tradition Northern Virginia has built at the national level. On top of 84 qualifications, the region has a two-time girls champion in Langley’s Erin Keogh and runner-ups in West Springfield’s Sharif Karie, South Lakes’ Alan Webb and, in 2012, McGorty. It’s part recognition and part networking for runners and an easy way for college coaches to see recruits face off “Making this meet gets you excited for the future,” McGorty said. “You look at who else from around here has made it and they’re great runners who have done well in college and after. It’s exciting to have a chance to follow in their footsteps or even exceed what they did. “ In the 35 years since the race started, the field has expanded to 40 runners in each race, from 32 and 28, with qualifiers coming from four regions. Maryland and Washington, D.C. both compete in the northeast region, and Maryland has had a winner in Sherwood’s Solomon Haile in 2008 and a 1994 runner up in Walter Johnson’s Sally Glynn. Max Mayo, the south regional meet director, said Virginia’s strong showing at the race, including a win by Richmond resident Charles Alexander in 1981, comes from the participation base that coaches built early in the meet’s lifespan. “Ron Helmer [former coach at Virginia High School in Bristol and Woodbridge High, along with Georgetown and now Indiana universities] brought his entire team here for a few years,” Mayo said. “They’d have 25 of the 150 finishers and send a few kids to the finals.”
northern virginia’s runners shine on national stage
By Charlie Ban
Langley High School’s ERIN KEOGH, two-time national champion. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO COURTESY OF TIM O’DOWD
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Chantilly’s SEAN MCGORTY and his mother, Langley’s VICKI VERINDER MCGORTY, both national qualifiers as high schoolers. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO COURTESY OF MCGORTY
Those kids would come back with stories that excited their peers. McGorty’s focused his first trip on making “the book,” the yearly review of the race that includes the top 10 finishers. He met that goal with a 10th place finish and came back with higher aspirations after an undefeated fall season. “Throughout my senior year, I wanted to finish in the top five,” he said. “I got there and wanted to race for the win. It was the kind of race you remember for the rest of your life.” He came up a bit short in the last stretch, but he was in the best position to win of any athlete from the Washington area since Karie lost by two seconds in 1996. Even Webb, now the American record holder in the mile, was out of it a mile into the 2000 championship, when his showdown with Dathan Ritzenhein and Ryan Hall received so much fanfare. Erin Keogh Breitenbach won back-to-back titles in 1985 and 1986, in what was a golden age of running for Northern Virginia high school girls cross country. She was followed at the national meet by Annandale’s Aimee Harms in fourth in 1985 and Lake Braddock’s Wendy Neely in third the next year, and both years saw five girls from the area qualify. She won both titles by 24 and 23 seconds, respectively. “I think we ran so fast because we came in at the tail end of when girls starting having so many opportunities to compete, before parents and coaches started holding their runners back,” she said. “All we did was run consistently. It’s surprised me these records are still there.” She lives in Austin, where she directs the health education department at A.T. Still University. She still races, including a 4:55 mile a few years ago. She arrived in Texas almost 30 years ago to run for the Longhorns along with Gabrielle Pohlmann of West Potomac who also qualified for Footlocker. “They started the masters earlier than everyone else, because we’re old and need to run before it gets too hot,” she joked.
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“Afterward, I couldn’t believe I’m still doing this, but it’s part of who I am.” The Northern Region Cross Country/Track and Field Association keeps records of the fastest times at Burke Lake’s 2.98 mile cross country course, and the lists of the 30+ best times are littered with national qualifiers. Breitenbach and Webb still lead the lists. Laura Heiner Turner, who now lives in Washington state, qualified each of the four years she was at Centreville High School. Following a few team titles at Brigham Young University, she pursued a professional running career before starting a family. She knew about the race because her sister, Jessica, qualified when she was in eighth grade, and it was a goal ever since. “I was so thrilled to make it there my first year, but I was a little intimidated,” she said. “Once I got to San Diego, everyone was so nice, the older girls were really supportive and I knew that was something I wanted to keep going if I made it back.” Erin Swain Taylor won the south region meet in 1999 after “completely bombing” the year before and found the experience to be comparable, for a high schooler, to going to the Olympics. She ran at Lake Braddock and now lives in Arlington. “When I was a senior, Dyestat was getting big and I would spend a lot of time on the Internet, reading about who was racing and what they had run” she said. “It was cool to get to meet them to talk about training and just spend time with people who were so focused on running fast.” Centreville’s Eric Post qualified in 1995 and 1996 and admitted the whole experience could be overwhelming, but it introduced runners to a new kind of intensity. “It was ‘the’ race, everyone did it, and it was always the best of the best,” Post said. “There was no question it included the best runners. You start to get a feel for how competitive people are. People had this ‘I can beat anyone
local histoRical ResUlts
Boys 2012 Sean McGorty, Chantilly (2) Girls Sophie Chase, Lake Braddock (6); Caroline Alcorta, West Springfield (16); Allie Klimkiewicz, Oakton (33) 2011 2010 2009 2008 2006 2005 McGorty (10); Ahmed Bile, Annandale (12) Bile (14) Kevin Dowd, Fairfax (18) Leoule Degfae, Edison (12) Mike Spooner, West Springfield (23) Brad Siragusa, Chantilly (38) Melissa Dewey, Hayfield (13) Beth Fahey, Forest Park (27) Cara Keirnan, Potomac School (14) Alan Webb, South Lakes (2) Webb (8) Andrew McLeod, Oakton (29); Amlesom Teklai, West Potomac (32) 1996 Sharif Karie, West Springfield (2); Eric Post, Chantilly (14); Eric Kweder, Edison (17) 1995 Karie (2); Kweder (9); Eric Post (16); Chris Banks, West Springfield (20); Mark Rumple, Brooke Point (31) 1994 1993 Karie (9); Mohammen Musse, W.T. Woodson (21) Jim Colling, Chantilly (31) Kerr (26) Heiner (27); Kerr (28); Katherine Helland, Paul VI (31); Jessica Heiner, Centreville (DNF) 1991 1990 1989 Jama Bile, Fork Union/Fairfax resident (23) Aden, W.T. Woodson (20) Meghan McCarthy, Robinson (23) Alexa Lange, Herndon (15); McCarthy (21); Jackie Concaugh, Annandale (27) 1988 McCarthy (12); Hollie Moore, Chantilly (18); Judy Stott, Langley (30); Andrea Lengi, James Madison (31) 1987 Anne Evans, South Lakes (23); Michelle Farmer, Woodbridge (30); Kim Desmond, Lake Braddock (31) 1986 Jeff Pajak, Annandale (21) Erin Keogh, Langely (1); Wendy Neely, Lake Braddock(3); Gabrielle Pohlmann, West Potomac (28); Susan Volpe, Lake Braddock (30); Karen Sanfacon, W.T. Woodson (31) 1985 Andrew Hudson, Woodbridge (25); Daniel Ireland, Woodbridge (30) Keough (1); Aimee Harms, Annandale (4); Neely (11); Elizabeth Williams, Annandale (25); Pohlman (30) 1984 1983 1982 1981 1979 Kevin Ambrose (19); Mark Rusciolelli (29), both Osbourn Park Dwight Stevens, T.C. Williams (3) Clifford Holtz, Annandale (25); John Stein, Woodbridge (26) Andrea Volpe, Lake Braddock (4); Alisa Harms, Jefferson (28) Volpe (18) Keough (5); Kristi Cassell, Lake Braddock (31) Victoria Verinder, Langley (22) Ibrahim Aden, Fork Union/Fairfax resident (10) McCarthy (22) Jackie Kerr, Thomas Jefferson (13); Heiner (15); Kathy Newberry, Lake Braddock (27) Erin Swain, Lake Braddock (17) Kelley Otstot, Thomas Jefferson (27) Laura Heiner, Centreville (5) Liz Awtrey, Robinson (26) Heiner (5); Awtrey (17); Shannon Sarabyn, Centreville (26) Chase (11) Chase (38) Paige Kvartunas, West Springfield (38)
here’ attitude, and that’s what you need.” Post didn’t realistically think he could contend for the win, so his goal was to win AllAmerican honors with a top 15 finish. “I had a pretty good idea how to handle things, hovered around the top 20 mark the whole time,” he said. “The clock gets thrown out the window, and that’s what I love. Nobody care about the clock, you’re just trying to beat people. You did what you can to do to be top eight at the regional meet. It’s pure racing.” West Springfield senior Carolina Alcorta finished 16th in her first trip last year and figures to be one of the top high school seniors in the country. Though the competing Nike Cross Country National meet has popped up in the past few years, she has her eyes set on Footlocker at the end of the fall season. “You have all of the best runners there and you really have to earn it because so few people make it,” she said. “It’s smaller than some of our meets against other schools.” For all the glory that comes with making the national final, things can throw runners off of their game. Post recalls: “It’s hard to run your best race, the travel involved, there are a lot of factors to run your best race, it comes back to you just have to beat this guy, that guy, get the most out of yourself that day.” Osbourn Park’s Kevin Ambrose had a memorable race that didn’t turn out as he planned in 1981. “It was one of the best and worst races of my career,” he said. “ It was the best because I finished in 15:16 for the 5k, a personal best for the year. It was the worst because I missed seeing the two-mile marker along the brushy trails in Orlando and I completely lost track of where I was in the race. I emerged from the brush to the home stretch with way too much leftover. I remember being absolutely furious as I sprinted the home stretch. That silly race n still haunts me today with ‘what ifs.’”
2004 2003 2002 2000 1999 1998 1997
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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • A scaffolding for the finish and start lines Enough cones to set up a driver training course A few tables and chairs Some odds and ends that could probably repair a metro escalator A computer older than me Ribbons A loudspeaker A wooden train whistle Extension cords to stretch to a 5K turnaround Miscellaneous track implements, including several shot puts Banners A stack of novelty flying discs PVC piping Bolt cutters Tents A beach ball A plastic novelty oversized lime
BY CHARLIE BAN
If you’re hoping to catch some looks in Georgetown, hop behind the wheel of race organizer Jay Wind’s maroon Ford Aerostar XLT van. I did in 2011, for a spin around M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. It handled well enough, but what mattered was inside. Enough equipment to manage a road race, or have a lot of fun if I stole the van and went on the lam:
Arlington’s JAY WIND searches for just the right piece of equipment while preparing to time the Father’s Day 8k. RUNWASHINGTON PHOTO BY MATTHEW LEHNER
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