- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2003

The American Running Association has been around for 35 years, quietly going about its business of promoting running and fitness through educational and specialized programs. And on Wednesday, the association proved it could play host to a star-studded, high-profile honors gala.
This was not your basic awards ceremony, not with senators and congressmen, Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona and dozens of the sport's most intriguing athletes like Jackie Joyner Kersee, Mary Decker Slaney, Alberto Salazar and Joan Benoit Samuelson on hand at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the District.
In his speech, newly hired ARA executive director Dave Watt drove home the focus of his organization with a simple statement on the state of the health of America: "Technology has made our world better, but at the expense of fitness."
Senate Majority Leader (and heart surgeon) Bill Frist began the evening with some humor. "I did something crazy," he said. "I ran both the New York City Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. The crazy thing was that I decided to do it in the same year, in 2001, when the two races were a week apart."
But Frist, who raced over to the gala after a Senate session, said he took some prudent precautions before attempting this feat: "I went to the doctor to see if he thought it would be a good idea, and the good news is that the doctor said yes. But I was the doctor."
The evening's honorees were fitness guru Jeff Galloway, Samuelson and the surviving members of the original Team Nike.
To his credit, Galloway has inspired tens of thousands of would-be couch potatoes and others to participate in marathons and at the same time gain fitness.
Samuelson was the first champion of the women's Olympic Marathon, in Los Angeles in 1984, a two-time Boston victor, and whose 1985 Chicago time of 2:21:21 has been untouchable for American women.
Team Nike was a group that helped popularize the sport of running in the 1970s while pioneering one of the largest and most successful athletic apparel companies in the world. Missing was its most recognizable and inspiring member, Steve Prefontaine, the free-spirited 24-year-old runner who died in a 1975 auto accident.
Though the evening was nearly flawless, the choice of former Washington Redskins center and sports broadcaster Trevor Matich as master of ceremonies was weak. This was a crowd hungry for stories about runners and running, not about long snapping and the beauty of Nike football cleats.
That time again The 28th annual Marine Corps Marathon began accepting online applications for its registration lottery at 12:01 a.m. yesterday at marinemarathon.com. Race director Rick Nealis said that by 11 a.m., 2,100 entries had been accepted.
Meanwhile, a new half-marathon is on the schedule, thanks to Washington DC Marathon organizer H2O Entertainment. The event will be Oct.19 in Arlington, according to H2O.
Ageless wonders
Masters track will get an extra boost from three world-class athletes who have entered the USATF National Masters Indoors Championships in Boston from March 28 to 30.
Marathon great Bill Rodgers, 55, is entered in the M55 3,000-meter run, and Joan Samuelson may compete in the W45 3,000-meter run.
"I haven't been on a track since the mid-'80s," said Samuelson, still sore from her workout the day before. "Probably I'll do it. Who's running in the W45? There's got to be some good competition there. What's the record? It won't be pretty, and it won't be fast."
Fast? Leave that to former NFL player and Tennessee football/track star Willie Gault, who at 42 should dominate the 60 meters, 60 hurdles and 200 meters.

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