- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rather than waste space boring you with my witty, creative, perceptive look back at 2006, instead I will bore you with my dull, unoriginal, sophomoric list of predictions for 2007.

Here is my list, not necessarily in order of significance:

• Local boy wonder Alan Webb briefly abandons his mile career and jumps into the U.S. Olympic marathon trials in November in New York, winning the race and a trip to Beijing. Meanwhile, favored Khalid Khannouchi takes a wrong turn midway through the course and ends up at the finish line in Chicago.

• The Marine Corps Marathon finally finds enough space to stage a real finish-line area. Unfortunately for many of the participants who enjoy traveling around Washington’s most historic monuments, the course has been relocated to a large cornfield in Nebraska.

• Marion Jones, tired of fighting drug accusations for more than seven years, announces her retirement from the sport during the 100-meter finals of the USATF Outdoor Championships in June. Within days, she receives job offers from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, BALCO and the Belize Department of Tourism.

• Global warming across America forces an unfortunate merger of the indoor and outdoor track seasons. The new season, lasting from December through September, is now called “GoreTrack.”

• U.S. distance runners continue to make great strides against international competition, closing the once-insurmountable gap. In a study by Running USA and McDonald’s, it becomes evident the proliferation of fast food restaurants in Rift Valley in Kenya is largely responsible for the phenomenon.

• Two record-setting Northern Virginia masters track stars decide to change their focus in 2007 and switch events. Middle-distance runner Alisa Harvey of Manassas sets the American record in the high jump while Bruce McBarnette of Sterling becomes only the second 40-plus male to run under four minutes in the mile. Eamonn Coughlan is the other.

• In a testament to the obsession humans have with pain and suffering, the Chicago Marathon immediately fills all 45,000 entries tomorrow when registration opens for the 30th anniversary race, nine months before race day. Not to be outdone, Baltimore also fills up tomorrow, too, more than nine months early. Meanwhile, new District Mayor Adrian Fenty commits to running the National Marathon in March and offers a tax refund to all District residents who finish.

• Nike finally caves into decades-long criticism for using cheap third-world labor and decides to relocate all its international factory workers to luxury accommodations in Oregon. Coincidentally, the U.S. population exceeds 500 million by the end of the year. The new running shoe Nike Immigrant debuts at $750 a pair.

• Dean Karnazes, who spends more of his time running than sleeping, eating and working, cuts a deal with a Hollywood movie production company to script his story about running back and forth across America. Actor Tom Hanks agrees to star as Karnazes in the blockbuster sequel “Forrest Gump II.” A new expression is born — “Life is like a box of old running shoes. You never know what you’re gonna get, but you do know it just doesn’t smell right.”

Last run of the year — Today is the last day to make up that 533-mile deficit in your running log. There are two races today: Festival of Lights 5K at 3 p.m. in Centreville (703/815-1286) and MADD Red Ribbon 5K Run an hour later on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax (703/379-1135).

Starting off on right foot — Runners have many races to choose from tomorrow. I always have been a big fan of the Rotary Resolution Race, now in its 10th year. It is a chip-timed 10K over the rolling hills and pathways of the Morven Park estate in Leesburg, Va. The course is on about 80 percent paved or gravel roads and 20 percent grass. This quiet beautiful park is not open to runners on any other day of the year. Call 301/871-0400 for more information.

Other good choices include Montgomery County Road Runners New Year’s Day 5K starting at Philbin’s in Gaithersburg (301/353-0200), D.C. Road Runners Predictions & Resolutions 5K beginning at Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington (703/241-0395) and the Baltimore Resolution Run 5K at Patterson Park in Baltimore (410/308-1870).

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