- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

Just a few months ago running fans were still dwelling on the inadequacy of American distance running, and in particular, the marathon.
True enough, we have had a drought for decades now, with our last Olympic medal for the men in 1976 and for the women in 1984. Mark Plaatjes, the South African-turned American, earned a marathon gold at the world championships, but that was nine years ago.
In the course of two months, the outlook for U.S. marathoners has taken a hairpin turn. Debut marathons by Dan Browne, Alan Culpepper and just a week ago Meb Keflezighi have given us hope on the men's side.
This is the first time in decades the United States has four marathoners under 2:13, including Moroccan-turned American Khalid Khannouchi.
There is renewed hope on the women's side, too. While Deena Drossin already established herself as an elite marathoner in her Chicago debut last year, last week it was Marla Runyan and Milena Glusac who took center stage and made a curtain call.
With Runyan's debut in New York, combined with Drossin's times at Chicago 2000 and 2001, Americans have two marathoners around the 2:27 mark in the same year for the first time ever. Runyan's 2:27:10 makes her the fifth-fastest U.S. female marathoner in history, with the 10th-fastest time, passing legendary Francie Larrieu Smith.
What is particularly interesting is that all the above-mentioned Americans who made their marathon debut in the past two months already were highly successful 10,000-meter runners.
Could these great role models inspire the next generation of U.S. marathoners much like Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter and Alberto Salazar did some 20 to 30 years ago?
Live from New York
Former area runner Philippe Rolly, whose bib No.30 coincidentally is his age, ended in a disappointing 2:26:17. Running for France, Rolly placed 29th after a 1:10:34 half split.
Congratulations to D.C. resident Kerry Rodgers, who should be happy with her 69th-place effort at New York City last week. Her time of 3:07:35 was an improvement over her 3:10:30 at Boston last year and her 3:09:29 at New York City in 2000.
Clarification In this column two weeks ago, I wrote that the Goblin Gallop 5K was postponed until next spring and was replaced in the RacePacket Grand Prix series by the Nov.9 United We Stand 10K. I followed with "the Series also replaced the Alexandria Turkey Trot with the Centreville Turkey Trot 5K on Nov.28."
It seems pretty clear to me, but many people understood this to mean that the Alexandria Turkey Trot was canceled, according to race director Paul Thompson, who went to great lengths to butter me up for this note of clarification. It worked, Paul.
The Alexandria Turkey Trot has not been canceled. It will hold its 27th trotting on Nov.28 at Cora Kelly School in Del Ray.
Thompson also said Congressmen Tom Davis, Virginia Republican, and Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, will participate, as well as Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. It is good to see politicians sweating like the rest of us.
Attention Montgomery County readers
The race director at your hometown Marathon in the Parks has issued an urgent appeal for help. It appears that with the sniper attacks shutting down many races during the month of October, the marathon lost some opportunities at those races to recruit volunteers.
It takes at least 1,000 good-hearted people along the course to guide the runners through the many parks from Gaithersburg to Chevy Chase and to control the vehicle traffic, according to race director Brian Tresp.
If you can help out for a few hours on the morning of Nov.17, call 301/767-0002.
Fitting End
When Mark Jones went flying past me after two miles to win yesterday's Round Robinson 5K, there was only one thing for me to say: Darn, once again I could not keep up with the Joneses.

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