- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 26, 2005

Last year runners lost the track at T.C. Williams High School because the city of Alexandria is replacing the entire school. Now we are losing the track at Washington-Lee High in Arlington for at least 13 weeks while the county installs a synthetic turf on the field.

The Washington-Lee track will be closed from July11 to Oct.15, according to a June23 news release from Arlington Public Schools.

“On June9, the Arlington School Board authorized a Memorandum of Understanding between the school system and the County to install synthetic turf on the Washington-Lee field,” the release said. “The project will greatly improve the playing surface for high school sports such as football, lacrosse and field hockey and will vastly increase the amount of time available for County recreation league games and other permitted uses.”

It is not the school board’s fault, but the closure will displace thousands of people who use the 400-meter oval, from recreational runners and walkers to athletes in serious training. On Wednesday evenings alone, you can find several hundred athletes doing interval workouts from clubs like the Potomac Runners, DC Road Runners and others.

What is not so apparent is that in spurring greater usage of the field, the new turf will make it ever harder for track users. As it is now, the track is closed on many weekday evenings during the spring and fall when the high school teams — football, soccer and lacrosse — play on the infield.

More usage of the field most likely will translate into more track closures. Let your opinion be heard by calling Arlington Public Schools at 703/228-6004.

It is a shame we don’t have an outdoor track not connected with a high school for the general public to use without interruption. There is green space in Alexandria under discussion right now, and yet the taxpayers hardly are in favor of building a track complex with their money.

We need a long-term solution. We should take the experience of the skateboarders in Alexandria who partnered with the city to build a skateboard park. There should be an effort among track users to make our own track a reality.

Kingdom sits out — Elite Masters track competitors were invited to compete in the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships this weekend at Carson, Calif. The women are scheduled to run today at 1,500 meters and the men in 110-meter hurdles as four days of competition end.

One notable name will be missing from the latter event.

“I would have loved to have been out there competing, but they only gave me three weeks’ notice, and that’s not enough to get into shape,” said former world record holder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Roger Kingdom from his office at California University of Pennsylvania, where he is the new coach of men’s and women’s cross country and track and field. “Last year I was able to get into shape in four weeks, but I am not in as good a shape now as I was back then.”

Still tied for No.3 on the all-time world list, Kingdom, 42, said he was looking forward to future opportunities to compete against the nation’s top hurdlers, this time as a masters athlete.

Time running out — Don’t wait much longer if you are interested in participating in the Army Ten-Miler on Oct.2. The number of entries received as of Friday morning was 14,858. Officials say they expect to close out at 20,000 applications early next month.

The 21st annual Army Ten-Miler opened registration to runners April1. You can register online at www.armytenmiler.com. The early entry fee is $35. After July31, it will be $40, but don’t expect to get in at that point. … Montgomery County Road Runners are replacing the now-defunct Marathon in the Parks with a half-marathon beginning in downtown Rockville and ending in downtown Bethesda. The date is Sept.24, 2006, so you have 15 months to train.

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