- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

The 31st Marine Corps Marathon took its last online entry at noon Friday and promptly closed at a record 34,000 participants.

Now everyone at the marathon’s Quantico office can sleep soundly. Or maybe not.

Entries for the Oct. 29 race had been available since May 17. For those who slept through online registration, they will have to pay to play. A limited number of entries remain available through the MCM charity partner program. There are about 30 charities listed on the Marines’ Web site, many requiring runners to raise $1,000 but some, like Friends4Michael Foundation, are asking for just $500. Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University is on the high end at $1,700.

It even appears that the Organization for Autism Research requires the only $100 application fee and a good-faith effort to raise as much money as one can. Each runner can set up their own personal fund-raising section on the OAR site for donors to give online.

Meanwhile, these are the final days of registration for the 22nd Army Ten-Miler on Oct. 8.

“Right now as we speak, we have 20,283 entries,” race director Jim Vandak said. “We hit 20,000 last year and sold out on July 10, in 101 days last year. We are 30 days ahead this year. We hit 20,000 this year on June 9.”

The race will cap out at a record 24,000. But when will registration close?

“It will be a sprint to the finish here,” Vandak said. “We’ve been doing 250 to 300 a day. Usually once we start getting closer to the cap, it gets faster. By June 30, it will be closed. We’re cautious here. Within the next two weeks.”

New to the race this year is the two-wave start, where runners will be seeded by time, a modification Vandak said came from feedback from the runners to alleviate congestion and improve runner performance.

“We are listening to our runners,” he stated. “They told us we need to tighten up on the seeding.”

And if the wave works well this year, will the field be larger in 2007?

“We will wait and see on expanding the field,” Vandak replied. “It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about producing a high-quality event.”

Vandak hopes to get his race back to the 10-mile distance after last year’s bomb scare turned it into a large 11.2-mile fun run. While most of the feedback from the Army’s handling of the 2005 race was positive, Vandak said some bitterness remains. To show good will, Vandak said he has offered $10 off this year’s entry fee to all 2005 participants.

A fit woman is a powerful woman — Congratulations to Reston Runners and Metro Run and Walk for being selected as one of 12 organizations to receive a 2006 Moving Comfort Women’s Beginner Fitness grant.

Grants are awarded to nonprofit groups for programs that help women get fit through running or walking.

“We believe that being fit improves every aspect of a woman’s life,” Moving Comfort president Ellen Wessel said. “The programs we’re supporting make a lasting difference in the lives on many women and girls.”

For those not familiar with the Moving Comfort story, it has local roots. Moving Comfort, which was acquired by Russell Corporation in 2003, designs and markets women’s high-performance athletic wear. The company was founded in 1977 by two local women’s long-distance runners who were tired of running in men’s clothes.

On March 13, 1977, Northern Virginia residents and runners Valerie Nye and Wessel put $75 down on a Singer sewing machine and began taking custom orders from friends in the running community.

Soon after, Nye opted out as the company was not making any money and Wessel ran the shoestring company out of her Arlington apartment with co-founder Elizabeth Goeke. Both Wessel and Goeke run Moving Comfort today from nearby Chantilly.

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