- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 16, 2003

"No matter what decision we make, we will be criticized," said the man who answered the phone at the GW Birthday Classic 10K race hotline. He was referring to yesterday's stormy weather forecast for the race on Eisenhower Avenue in Alexandria.
Race officials were put in the typical winter dilemma of deciding whether to cancel the race, now in its 20th year. The man on the phone late Friday afternoon said it probably would rain throughout the night and snow after 9a.m. With an 8a.m. start, that forecast would have been perfect.
He suggested I check the Web site when I awoke yesterday to see if the race was still on. But within an hour of our conversation, by 6p.m. Friday, the Web site indicated that the race had been canceled.
"Due to the high probability of snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain to occur Friday night and Saturday morning, added to existing icy conditions along parts of the course, the George Washington Birthday 10K Race must be canceled for this year," the site said.
It did rain off and on through the night, with a flurry or two of snow. But aside from some slippery wet roads, the race could have been held. Did race organizers jump the gun?
Webb returns to Armory
Reston's Alan Webb returned to the scene of his historic sub-four minute indoor mile, but it wasn't quite as captivating yesterday as it was two years and a couple of weeks ago at the New Balance Games.
Webb was the headliner in a field of 10 for Event 78 the New York Road Runners Club Challenge Cup Mile in the Armory Collegiate Invitational at the 168 Street Armory in New York City. The lightning-fast Armory was the place where Webb ran 3:59.86, the first high schooler under four minutes for an indoor mile.
But yesterday he came up short against formidable competition, finishing third but still breaking four minutes, as did three of his competitors. Webb ran 3:59.49.
Taking the race was James Thie of Wales in 3:57.71, with splits of :58, 1:59 and 2:59. Thie had a hot week coming in, including a fifth-place effort (4:03.41) at Millrose in Madison Square Garden and a Welsh national 1,500 meter record (3:42.28) less than 36 hours later. Thie ran 4:02.05 at the New Balance Games at the Armory on Jan.25.
Kenya's Eliud Mjubi (3:58.72) also bested the Nike-sponsored Webb, with Jason Long (3:59.99) right behind in fourth.
Webb says he is in the shape of his life, just not in the race shape of his life. He came off three weeks of altitude training in Albuquerque, N.M., to the low grounds of Gainesville, Fla., where he ran a disappointing eighth last weekend in the 800 meters at the college Gator Invitational in 1:52.48.
Sources close to him said he was hoping for more like 1:46, but he was physically knocked off his game early on by some college guys eager to beat the star.
Runs in the family
Ryan Shay bolted to running fame by winning last weekend's U.S. Marathon Championships in Birmingham, Ala. Shay, 23, isn't the only running star in his family, according to Charlie Mahler, writing for Running USA wire service.
"Shay's father, Joe, who coached Ryan throughout high school, is a self-taught coach," Mahler wrote. "Being a talented runner seems to also be part of the Shay make-up: Joe Shay's interest in the sport goes back to the 1980s when an older Shay sibling Ryan's sister, Jodie took up running in the 1980s. She's the same Jodie Shay, in fact, that still holds the U.S. single age record [age 15] for 25K [1:53:50]."

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