- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2002

RUNNING / Steve Nearman

This week we begin with a little humor.
How many times have you expected to run well but ended up far from expectations and then came up with some lame excuse for it?
Olympic and world champion Gabriela Szabo was upset in the women's 5,000 meters at the Golden Gala meet in Rome on Friday, losing a last-lap sprint and finishing third in 14:55.48.
This is what she said after the race, according to Reuters:
"I don't know what happened," the Romanian said. "I didn't have the best feelings about today. I saw a black cat on the road today, and I knew I felt I wouldn't produce my best. I know it is superstition, but it has happened to me in the past."
There were great expectations, too, for Hicham El Guerrouj. The undisputed king of the middle distance requested that meet organizers alter the program to allow him to go for the world mile record rather than the 1,500 meters.
He had set the current world record of 3:43.13 at the same Rome venue three years ago. This time, however, he came up five seconds short, which is a long way in a mile race. No mention of black cats, but he may have run under a ladder the day of the race.
It was good to see Maurice Greene cash in finally. His 9.89 clocking in the 100 meters was the fastest in the world this year and comes on the heels of three consecutive defeats since he got to Europe jet-lagged a couple of weeks ago.
Maria Mutola, the world and Olympic 800 meters champion from Mozambique, also exceeded expectations with a rare appearance at 1,500 meters, winning in a personal-best 4:01.50. There must have been something in the air that night; there were 12 personal or season's bests in that race.
The premiere running event in the Washington summer is the 17th Rockville Rotary Twilight Runfest on Saturday at 8:45 p.m.
This competitive 8-kilometer (4.96 miles) race is truly a fun event, unless you are a journalist trying to make out the running stick figures following the press vehicle into the night.
The course is rolling and challenging, and you pass a "sprinkler" twice during the race to cool you down. Some of the neighbors along the course really get into the event. The postrace party is fantastic, and this is one of the only races I've ever attended where there are sinks outside the portajohns.
Organizers are hopeful they will sell out again at 3,000 runners. Race scoring again will be done by the ChampionChip system. Organizers promise not only your official "gun" time but also your "net" time.
This year, they also have added two age groups, 75-79 and 80 and over.
The only downer about this event is that in some years, the extreme heat and humidity have made it pretty rotten weather in which to race. In the past, organizers have transformed the race into a "fun run" when the heat index became too unhealthy. They reserve the right to make that call up to 15 minutes before race time.
For more information, check the Web site at www.twilighter.org or call 301/315-6531.
Marathon Motivation
The Washington D.C. Marathon has tapped Paul Friedman, who successfully directed the Montgomery County Road Runners Club "First Time Marathon Training Program," to coach its own Washington D.C. Marathon Training Program.
Beginning in November, nearly five months before the March 23 Washington D.C. Marathon (not on Palm Sunday), the program is expected to provide participants of all abilities with flexible workout options, locations and a variety of coaching resources to prepare them for the marathon.
Check the Web site at www.washingtondcmarathon.com.
Sign of the times
I attended a business networking breakfast last week and a guy from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters sitting at my table was there to sell spots in this year's Marine Corps Marathon.

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