- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2003

Packing for an extended trip is always a challenge for a runner. I just spent way too much time transferring everything I own from my dresser and closet into my oversized duffel bag.

The problem is this: As runners, we want to show off all of our really cool, high-tech attire to the rest of the world — not that the rest of the world really gives a hoot.

But nonetheless we try. So we end up taking way too much stuff, then we grovel about it because we have to schlep it all over the planet Earth and back.

I have learned over the years that you cannot wear shirts, underwear and socks for one run, then turn them inside out to use for another.

I also have learned to bring clothes and a pair of shoes I am ready to discard, because it always seems that no matter how well you pack, all the clothes you brought on your trip hardly fit back into your bag on the way home.

The most important item to pack is the thick plastic trash bag to quarantine your sweaty stuff. I recommend throwing in an air freshener before you seal up the evidence.

Go figure — For the past few years, USATF Road Running Information Center has disseminated studies of participation. Frankly, many of these studies aren’t worth the cost of a pair of running socks.

American Sports Data Inc. (ASD), for instance, tells us that 35.8million U.S. residents 6 or older ran once in 2002. The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) tells us that 24.7million residents 7 or older ran six or more times in 2002.

My grandmother, at 90-plus years, probably qualifies here.

The numbers that interest me are the “frequent runners” who ran at least 100 days in 2002. ASD reported 10.5million runners, 44 percent female, and a mean age of 29. The NSGA study found the same female participation but with an average age of 33.

The numbers I put most stock in come directly from the Road Running Information Center itself. The road race population tracked by the USATF RRIC was even older — average age 37 — and the male/female ratio was approximately 50/50.

The good news for the area running specialty stores we profiled here last week comes from the ASD report. The metropolitan areas with the most runners (average 2000-2002) were:

1. New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania: Total population 21,199,865, number of runners 2,162,000, 13.4 percent.

2. Los Angeles/Riverside/Orange County: 16,373,645, 1,912,000, 15.4 percent.

3. Washington D.C./Baltimore: 7,608,070, 1,027,000, 10.9 percent.

4. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose: 7,039,362, 983,000, 13.8 percent.

5. Chicago/Gary/Lake County: 9,157,540, 942,000, 13.7 percent.

The metropolitan areas with the most runners per capita (average 2000-2002) were San Antonio, 24.1 percent; USATF home Indianapolis, 21.8 percent; Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News, 21.3 percent; Milwaukee/Racine, 18.8 percent; and Minneapolis/St. Paul, 16.9 percent.

Another independent study confirmed steady growth in the running shoe market. But it did not comment on the growth of running shoe sizes.

Hair today, gone tomorrow — Though some people plead insanity, Brazilian long jumper Maurren Higa Maggi is pleading vanity. According to Reuters, she confirmed Friday that she had failed a doping test after using a banned substance during a depilation session.

Maggi, Pan Am Games gold medalist in the long jump and high hurdles four years ago, could be hit with a two-year ban. She admitted having used clostebol, which was contained in depilation cream used at the end of the treatment.

“It’s my fault, my carelessness,” she told the media. “I’m very vain, I always comb my hair before competitions and put on eye shadow. I always have depilation before competitions, but I never thought the depilation cream could contain a banned substance.”

Maggi said she was confident she could convince the authorities of her innocence.

Try these vacation spots ? While USATF chose Birmingham, Ala., and St. Louis for its 2004 Olympic marathon trials, USA Triathlon is heading to Oahu, Hawaii, and Bellingham, Wash., for its 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic Team Trials.

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