- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 3, 2005

He’s known as the Ragin’ Cajun, but on Sept.17 James Carville will be the runnin’ Cajun.

Carville, America’s best-known political consultant, will be headlining the Gulf Coast Relief 5K in Old Town Alexandria to raise funds for relief efforts in his native Louisiana.

“I ran races a long time ago,” Carville said by phone Friday. “I won’t be going for time. My philosophy is to start slow and taper.”

Carville was born in October 1944 in Carville, La., no joke, a town of 1,108 some 16 miles south of Baton Rouge. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Louisiana State University, then worked as a litigator at a Baton Rouge law firm from 1973 to 1979 before a brief time in the Marines and as a high school teacher.

Carville said he runs everyday, even when traveling, and he is frequently recognized along the river path from his Old Town residence during his 30- to 50-minute workouts.

The event is the brainchild of Chris Farley, owner of two Pacer’s running stores, one in Old Town and one in the Clarendon section of Arlington.

“I was driving to work [Aug. 31], and I was listening to James Carville talking to Tony Kornheiser on [AM-980], and what he said was that what they really need is money,” said Farley, a veteran runner and competitive marathoner. “So I was hoping to do something that would have the most impact, a race where we gave the proceeds to the relief effort.

“I called James. He’s a customer, one of our best customers actually. And I said, ‘What about doing a 5K to benefit the people down there?’ and he was all over it. He went to LSU. He is the draw of the race. He was on CNN [on Thursday] morning talking about the race. Everybody’s been behind the cause.”

Carville did not hesitate to assist.

“Chris asked, and I said, ‘Absolutely,’” he said.

All proceeds from the race will go toward the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The entry fee is $25, and online entry is $28. Starting time is 9a.m. at Oronoco Park.

Carville’s wife, Mary Matalin, and two daughters are expected to join Carville, and Kornheiser has been tapped as the official starter. Actress Patricia Clarkson, who was born in New Orleans and brilliantly played the warden’s dying wife in the 1999 Stephen King movie “The Green Mile,” is expected at the event.

For more information, go to gulfcoastreliefrun.com.

Graff commits to hometown — Chris Graff is heading back to the Big Apple this fall for another shot at the marathon.

“Yes, I’m going back to my birthplace,” the Arlington distance star said. “I actually was born in Brooklyn. Then when I was real young, my parents moved to Long Island. I went to college at St. John’s University in Queens.”

Graff, who has been one of America’s top 10,000-meter runners, has not quite made the successful leap to the marathon distance like predecessors Dan Browne, Alan Culpepper and Meb Keflezighi, all who represented the United States in the 2004 Olympic Marathon, with Meb earning the silver medal.

Graf hopes to line up for his fourth marathon attempt in New York City on Nov.6.

“I am nervous in that I’ve kinda taken a couple of shots at it before and it hasn’t worked out so well,” said Graff, who turns 30 on Oct.5. “But my training in the last couple of years indicates that I have it in me. Three years ago, we went to Mammoth Lakes, Calif., where Meb and Deena [Kastor] train, and we got totally fried from the training at altitude. I ran Twin Cities in 2002, and I had a really bad last five miles there [ended in 2:24:00]. Then I ran 2:18 at the USATF Championships at Birmingham 2003. I started New York last year, and it wasn’t going so well so I quit at 18 miles.”

Before the marathon, Graff will race in tomorrow’s USA 20K championship in New Haven, Conn., where he was second last year. Then he will try for his second Army Ten Miler triumph Oct.2. He won in 1999.

“The volume of training has increased,” said Graff, who added that last year he was running just 120 miles a week. “I am trying to build as much fitness and strength. Up to 140 to 145 miles per week. I’ll go in cycles, two to three weeks around 140, then an easy week of 80 and I race. Then three weeks of 140 to 145, then take an easy week and run Army.”

No wonder why he sleeps nine to 10 hours a day.

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