- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006

The phones lit up like a Christmas tree last year after the Army Ten-Miler became the Army 11.2-Miler because of a bomb scare on the 14th Street Bridge. The culprit was an innocent box of construction materials.

Nevertheless, the civilian staff at the Army Ten-Miler offices was barraged with complaints like the airline customer service people after a cancelled flight. It was pretty bad, but not like it was this month when the Army posted its new restrictions for the nation’s largest 10-mile footrace.

In two weeks, tens of thousands of runners will spend countless amounts of energy at this event, which begins and ends at the Pentagon and takes in two cross-Potomac bridges and the National Mall.

But many have expended quite a bit of energy complaining already.

Here’s the deal: the usual restrictions include no strollers, no rollerblades, no baby joggers, no skateboards, no bicycles (except for your trusted Washington Times reporter) and no animals (seeing-eye dogs, too, I would imagine). Fair enough.

But this year, because security in Washington is an industry, not a hobby, there are additional restrictions.

There will be no heart rate monitors allowed on the course.

And runners will not be allowed to tote hands-free water hydration systems on their backs while they run.

Also banned are any shampoos, lipsticks or lip gloss, suntan lotion, creams, toothpaste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency. However, women still will be permitted to breast-feed their babies. Wait a minute, that’s TSA rules.

Said the Army: “The support and safety of runners is our No. 1 priority. Because this is the Army’s race and it is staged at the Pentagon, ATM is subject to higher security measures than many other races.”

These restrictions came down from the brass at the Army, who also originally wanted to ban watches from the course. So do not abuse the civilian staff of the race as it is not their fault.

But do expect very vigilant enforcement. One staff member said race volunteers will not be taking away heart rate monitors or hydration systems, they will just prohibit runners from competing.

Anyone who feels these restrictions take away too many liberties should find one of thousands of other races around this area where they can do as they please.

Equal opportunity — For athletes serving in Iraq and Kuwait, this year’s Army race also will have seven “shadow runs” in the Persian Gulf in conjunction with the official Oct. 8 Army Ten-Miler in Washington.

Perfect test — As marathon season grows near, one excellent training run is the Annapolis Striders Metric Marathon on Oct. 1 at Southern High School in Harwood, Md. Not only is this a scenic race but it also is a huge bargain at $5 on race day. In case your math skills are lacking, a metric marathon is 26.2 kilometers or 16.3 miles.

The Wright stuff — Evelyn Wright, the 69-year-old veteran pentathlete from Annapolis, was among 24 nominees this year for induction into the USAT&F; Masters Hall of Fame.

Athens meet — At the recent IAAF World Cup meet in Athens, Sanya Richards blazed a U.S. record of 48.70 seconds in the 400 meters, some 0.13 seconds ahead of Valerie Brisco’s previous U.S. record set at the 1984 Olympic Games. Her mark earned her the seventh spot on the all-time world list.

And at the same meet, 35-year-old District native Allen Johnson stunned the field in the 110-meter hurdles in just 12.96 seconds, a World Cup record and his best time since tying the then-American record of 12.93 in 1997. Injured much of the season, Johnson was in Athens only to train, but when Ryan Wilson withdrew from the meet at the last minute due to injury, Johnson jumped in and hurdled to victory.

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