Monday, March 13, 2006

St. Patrick’s Day 10K (8K), March 12, 2006

What issue (or issues) does Washington, DC, have with races?

Sure, the Marine Corps Marathon remains untouched, but it seems like almost every other race has been modified, eliminated, or moved to Haines Point (and who wants to run every 10K on Haines Point?). Some have been affected by security concerns, others by complaints about road closures, and yet others by sponsor issues.

I have run the St. Patrick’s Day 10K almost every year since I moved from New York City to Washington, DC. (I didn’t run it in 2004 when I was eight months pregnant with Iz.) This year, just a week and a half before race day, the race organizers were forced to change it to an 8K. I don’t know the full reasons, and these race organizers are fantastic (The Capital Running Company). But they said that they couldn’t get permission for the course – a course that has gotten permission for 18 years in one form or another.

I had a great race – my fastest time in years (37:16 – imagine what I could have done with a 10K…) – and at least the race actually took place, unlike the Jingle Bell 10K, which was eliminated (and it followed the same course as the St. Pat’s, hmm…).

But the troubles and changes got me thinking about other races that have been messed with:
  • The Georgetown Classic 10K course, which started on M Street and went up into the residential neighborhoods, had tough hills but was interesting, different. Then Georgetown residents complained about road closures (I can’t help but think the wealth of those rusty wheels made them more effective), and the course was changed in 2001 to go into downtown DC, which was fine. As of 2003, the race has disappeared.
  • The Sallie Mae 10K, which used to make a nice, flat loop around downtown, now goes out and back along Haines Point. Sure, it is fast, but so boring.
  • The half-marathon that used to be held downtown in September is gone, too. (I never even got to run it!) I don’t remember its name or the reasons for its disappearance.
  • The Washington DC Marathon was held one year and cancelled the next. But this was the fault of the organizers, who were a for-profit entertainment company and s*ucked – they didn't care about the runners.

So, are DC races cursed?

At least the Capitol Hill Classic 10K still covers a fantastic course that actually goes down and up Capitol Hill.

I hope the Army 10 Miler (which was affected in 2005, but I hope that was not an omen) and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (which I’m running in three weeks) stay the same – those courses kick a*ss.


The MOM said...

The races are the ever-tightening noose of security in D.C. Many organizers have had problems getting permits for their races (the DC Road Runners Club has had to scrap several long-time races at the last minute because of permit denials). Last year's Army 10-Miler was a horrible situation that was caused by a suspicious package discovered on the course after the race had started -- which resulted in a course change being made on the fly. And the demise/change in the Georgetown races was due to neighborhood complaints.

I share your frustration, because I'm sick of running races on the same two courses -- the CRC downtown U and Haines Point. However, the smaller club-run races do offer a number of different and interesting locations, many of which are not in D.C. and therefore are less-subject to the whims of the permit-granting fairies.

Next weekend, Fort Hunt 10K in Alexandria. A great race!

SeeLolaRun said...

I ran for the first time the "8k" (way slower than you, and I thought I was doing good till I saw your time YIKES I need to pick it up a bit)WAY TO GO MOM! - It was fine but I would have preferred the 10k as I am training for the CB 10 MILER and had to go home and run another 4 miles to get all my mileage in for the day!

morgan said...

I can't believe you went home and ran another 4 miles -- you rock!

I was absolutely thrilled with my time (I didn't know I still had it in me -- I hadn't run a race in 6 months). So now I can strive for a 1:20 time at the CB (maybe even a little faster...). I'll do my big long run next weekend -- I figured the speed training of the 8k made up for the loss of milage.