- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

The constant running up and down hills on a 5-mile course in the Hillandale section of Silver Spring yesterday was so symbolic of the fight waged by the race’s namesake, Jim Starr, after he was diagnosed with cancer last August.

I joined 140 other runners who braved temperatures in the high teens to compete in the first of 12 races in the Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC) Championship series. The event, formerly known as the Over Hillandale 5-Miler, was renamed Shooting Starr 5-Miler in honor of the club’s fallen star.

Throughout the race, I could feel the sorrow, fear, agony, pain and despair that Starr, his wife, Beth, and their family must have endured before his death Nov.8 at his Chevy Chase home.

Before the race, I called up the Web site jimstarronline.com and read the nearly daily postings of his wife beginning Aug.23 after doctors tried radiation, then chemotherapy to treat his inoperable, stage-4 anaplastic carcinoma.

I knew nothing of the man or his background as a psychologist, runner or dedicated race volunteer. But through Beth’s online diary, which she created to keep friends updated, I could easily tell he deeply touched many people in his life, among them members of MCRRC.

So it was with a sense of inspiration that I awoke quite early on a frigid Saturday morning, with a winter storm on its way and a trip planned around the Beltway from Alexandria to Silver Spring and back. It was the least I could do to honor a giving man and running enthusiast I never had the opportunity to meet.

Bad weather courtesy — To runners, make sure you check before you depart for a race during the next couple of months. Races can and do get canceled, sometimes at the very last minute.

Event directors, please have the courtesy to put up-to-the-minute information on your answering machine and/or Web site. And make your cell-phone number known so entrants can call an hour or so before post time to verify that your race has not been canceled.

Track on TV — Calling all couch potatoes and big-time track fans. The 2005 Indoor Championship Series television schedule has been set.

The series opens next Sunday with the Boston Indoor Games on ESPN at 5p.m. Then come the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York City (Feb.5, NBC, 2p.m.), the Powered by Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. (Feb.12, ESPN2, 9 p.m.) and the USA Indoor Championships at Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center (Feb.27, ESPN, 3p.m).

In addition to more than $1million in prize and support money, USA Track & Field has announced that the male and female athlete with the top overall performances in the series will receive a $25,000 bonus. Also, each Indoor Championship Series event champion will be awarded an invitation of his or her choice to a premier event, such as the Super Bowl, NFL Pro Bowl, Daytona 500, Kentucky Derby, Tony Awards or Pebble Beach weekend.

The top American male finisher and top American female finisher in each event, including the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships, will have their performances assigned a point total based on the IAAF Scoring Tables of Athletics. The athlete with the highest point total at the end of the series will be named champion, provided he or she competes at Indoor Nationals.

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