- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 10, 2009

I had to chuckle to myself when I pulled up the online results for the Sandburg Pantherlon 5K, a neat little annual neighborhood race held May 2 to benefit Carl Sandburg Middle School in Alexandria.

The cause for amusement: middle-aged adults mixing it up with the middle-school kids in a wonderfully healthy activity.

For the males, experience trumped youth. But not so for the girls, who ruled their mature competitors.

Tom Cook (50) of Chantilly and Michael Cannon (51) of Springfield led the way. Marc Lotterie (14) of Alexandria finished a bit later; veteran road racer Dan Eddy (57) of Alexandria and Corey Rosenburg (14) of Alexandria duked it out right to the end.

Rosenburg’s teammate, Kelly Bieraugel (14) of Alexandria, ran away from all her pursuers, young or not. Anna Wasserman (11) of Alexandria followed, far ahead of Mary Ann Burke (46) of Alexandria.

Running provides families a perfect opportunity to play together in a mentally and physically healthy way. Done right, it is a great bonding experience, one that kids will remember for a lifetime.

I certainly remember being a preteen following my dad to the track nearly every Saturday and Sunday morning and timing his laps around the track. Then I would jump in and join him for a lap. This routine led me to a lifetime commitment to track and field and road racing.

We parents are our kids’ role models. And on the track and roads, we can be other kids’ role models, too. I have competed in many track competitions with kids half my age.

I don’t know what they are thinking when some graying guy who resembles their dads whizzes past them in the late stages of a race. But I hope they are at least thinking that someday, they, too, will be that graying guy who is still living life like a kid on the track.

Two years ago, I entered a regional open/masters indoor track meet in Jersey City, N.J. Meet organizers generously put me in the open heat of the 800 meters for more competition, and it was a stitch.

The ages and order of finish: 20, 20, 24, 21, 17, 47, 17 and 17. I valiantly dueled with one of the 17-year-olds, overtaking him with a lap and a half remaining. This tall, fit boy then locked in on my back until the last 50 meters. In a blur, he streaked past me and nipped me at the line by 12 hundredths of a second.

Exhausted, he doubled over for a moment, then looked up at me and said he never would have run so fast had I not passed him with 300 meters to go. That was the greatest compliment he could ever pay me.

Trouble on the trail - Things did not run so smoothly at the Potomac River Run Marathon & Half in Alexandria on May 2.

“National Park Service revoked our permit mid-race because we had too many people. Never before have they done anything like that,” the race Web site noted.

Race director Jay Wind said he applied for the permit to use the Mount Vernon Trail last May and just got approved a week before the race for a field of 300 runners. He already had 350 entrants by that point.

“The Park Service confiscated our timing tags and destroyed them,” Wind said. He added that he is working to fix the problem of incomplete results.

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