- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

Organizers were too concerned about terrorism to proceed with the D.C. Marathon, but not the roughly 600 runners who covered the 26.2 miles of city streets yesterday to complete an unofficial race.
"I don't like to live my life in a state of paranoia," said Paul Rades, 30, a U.S. policy analyst who felt he has a good grasp of a terrorist risk.
He tied for first place with a time of 2:55:50.
Jan Fenty, owner of the Fleet Feet sports store in Adams Morgan, an official D.C. Marathon sponsor, said yesterday's race was an all-volunteer effort and was renamed the People's Marathon.
"It's wonderful how all this happened," she said.
More than 50 volunteers directed runners through city streets, provided medical aid, recorded times and handed out food and water at the finish line near Freedom Plaza everything H20 Management promised before canceling the race following the start Wednesday of the U.S. conflict with Iraq.
One volunteer wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the message: "You cannot bomb what you cannot catch."
The unofficial race followed the official route, starting on the D.C. side of the Arlington Memorial Bridge and finishing near Freedom Plaza, a few blocks from the White House at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
Runners and D.C. officials questioned the reason H20 Management canceled the marathon, saying terrorism was just an excuse.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has threatened to sue the company.
About 6,800 runners signed up for the marathon, a small number compared with the roughly 25,000 who typically run the District's Marine Corps Marathon or other major races.
Many of the runners yesterday said H20 Management wanted to cut financial loses and ripped them off by not refunding entry fees.
The company has instead offered free registration for next year's marathon.
H20 Management could not be reached for comment.
This was the first marathon for Mr. Rades. His winning time was slow compared with professional marathoners, who finish under 2 hours and 10 minutes, but it was a respectable finish considering runners had no police escorts on most of the route and had to stop for traffic signals.
Social worker Kevin Kozlowski, 26, the other first-place finisher, said going through with the run "sends a positive message that it is safe to be here and safe to run."
Others said the race also shows support for troops fighting in Iraq.
Barbara Stites waved two U.S. flags as she and about 50 other spectators cheered the runners at the finish line.
"We have to support our runners and our soldiers," said Mrs. Stites, who came from Los Angeles to see her son, Jeff Miller, run in the marathon.
"I'm patriotic," she said. "The [troops] are in there for the long haul and so are these guys. They are showing support for our troops, whether they agree with the war or not."
The unofficial organizers also had the war on their minds. They said proceeds from sale of the T-shirts and commemorative route maps would go to send care packages to U.S. troops in Iraq.
The unofficial race, which was staged with about 48 hours of planning, was not without snags. One runner got lost but was shepherded back on course by volunteers. Organizers also moved the finish line at the last minute to get the marathon distance right, setting it up about a half block east of Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue.
"At a time when there are a lot of concerns about security, getting people to say, 'Yes, we can still do this.' That's what it is all about," said Bob Schneider, a chief organizer of the unofficial race who finished in third place with a time of 2:56:34.

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