- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 12, 2004

Contrary to what people say, runners are easy to please during the holiday season.

When in doubt, buy him or her a pair of running shoes. You know they will use them at some point, months and maybe years after their favorite sneaks should have been retired. The gift that, yes, keeps on giving.

But for many people, $100 gifts may be a bit over the budget.

I could spend pages and pages discussing all the merits of the various high-tech apparel available these days. A trip to one of the many local running stores, owned by some of our local running heroes, yields great ideas and useful gifts.

Instead, here are a few out-of-the-box gift ideas that your runner spouse, parent, friend, colleague, etc., may enjoy.

Books about running are usually a big hit. Reading about runners is the runner’s next best joy to talking about his own running. Arguably, the best book published this year is “The Perfect Mile,” the story of three athletes who pursued the sub-four-mile until one of them, Roger Bannister, did it in 1954. It retails for $24.

Another book published this year comes from our very own Montgomery County Road Runners Club entitled “What Do You Think of When You Run?” At $20, the book is a compilation of interesting stories from the club’s newsletter since it was created in 1978.

Why not give the perfect gift of fitness by paying for the recipient’s favorite road race? And if he or she does not have a favorite, how about the New Year’s Eve race in Alexandria or one of the many New Year’s Day races, such as the Rotary Resolution 10K in Leesburg, Va.? Or buy a ChampionChip timing device so he or she has one to take to each race.

Wouldn’t it be great to receive a pass to a fitness club or gym as a holiday gift? My nearby recreation center in Fairfax County sells monthly passes for $61.30, about the going rate of a gym.

No runner would be disappointed with a certificate for a massage, or two or three. The health spas also offer pedicures, which certainly beats clipping your toenails on your own — a chore I absolutely hate.

New world record — People driving through the Clarendon section of Arlington yesterday must have wondered why a man dressed in black was running on a treadmill in a covered foyer in front of a busy corner store across from the Metro station.

That man was Michael Wardian, on a mission to break the world record for a marathon run on a treadmill. His other mission was to get people to the grand opening of the Pacers store, one of his many sponsors.

Ahead of pace early on, Wardian crushed the previous record set by elite marathoner John Cox at the runner’s expo before the Boston Marathon last April. Cox, a 2:14 marathoner on the roads, had run 26.2 miles on the treadmill in 2:31:04.

Wardian punched out a brilliant 2:23:58, which will land him in “The Book of Alternative Records.”

The only speed bump Wardian hit was when the treadmill reached 60 minutes and suddenly stopped. But he quickly got the machine moving again.

Dewey shines — Melissa Dewey’s cross country career ended on a high note in San Diego yesterday at the mother of all high school cross races, the Foot Locker National Championships. She placed 13th out of 39 finishers on the 5-kilometer course at Morley Field in Balboa Park with a time of 18:23, about a minute shy of her personal best for the distance. She gained All-American status by finishing in the top 15.

“I’m pretty happy about my race. I just wanted to go out and run as hard as I could so that I would have nothing at the end. I give myself an A, at least a B-plus,” said the Hayfield High School senior, who handily won the 2004 Virginia Group AAA cross country championships and finished fourth in the Foot Locker South regionals in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov.27. She was 36th last year at regionals and didn’t qualify for nationals.

Blossoms already — Online registration for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom race opens at 10a.m. tomorrow. The field has been expanded to 10,000 this year for the April3 event. Last year the race was filled in four days. Go to cherryblossom.org.

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