- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

This week has been one of utter frustration.

No, it’s not the excessive heat and humidity because the air has cooled a bit.

No, it’s not the excessive traffic because it has been lighter than normal.

No, it’s not the fury I feel when motorists chuck their cigarette butts out the window when they drive past me.

It is because last week, it was impossible to find a track around town for an evening workout.

Every track, it seems, is connected to a high school. When students are back in school, football, field hockey and all other fall sports are back in motion.

And because somebody, or bodies, a long time ago came up with the brilliant idea of putting a playing field inside the loop of the track, when there are high school games, the tracks are closed.

I can’t be the only one complaining about this. It is surprising how many people use the track in the evenings, even once it gets dark. Maybe these are people who like myself would rather wait until the sun sets and the mercury drops than bake during the day like an ant under a magnifying glass. Or maybe like me, they have a day job.

I am a huge supporter of high school sports, but it comes at the expense of the general population who want to use the track as well.

My ultimate frustration came on Thursday, my last track session before today’s Potomac Valley Games, when I wrongly assumed the tracks would be free and clear as high school football games are generally on Friday nights.

Instead, many school systems moved their games from Friday to Thursday to dodge the anticipated wind and rains that hit on Friday.

I thought football players were tough enough to deal with a little precipitation.

Parting with tradition — The Boston Athletic Association, in cooperation with the eight cities and towns along the Boston Marathon course, recently announced that the 111th Boston Marathon on April 16, 2007, will begin at 10 a.m.

Guy Morse, executive director of the B.A.A, explained that “an earlier starting time will benefit the 22,500 runners who compete in the marathon because of the cooler temperatures, while allowing all of the communities, and the City of Boston in particular, to re-open roads to traffic earlier in the day.”

The B.A.A. also cited an overwhelming majority of runners — elite and recreational — who prefer to start before noon.

The inaugural Boston Marathon, held in 1897, began at 12:19 p.m., and the race traditionally began at noon in the 109 races that followed. I believe the noon start was planned to accommodate runners who took the train on race day from places far away from Massachusetts.

While the aforementioned benefits are great, Boston should have kept with tradition and continued to be unique. Not many marathons in America begin at noon or end in the mid- to late afternoon. I have been told by the elite Japanese runners that most races in that country begin at noon.

2008 U.S. Olympic trials tickets — Log on to Eugene08.com to purchase eight-day all-session ticket packages for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Track & Field trials in Eugene at the University of Oregon’s legendary Hayward Field from June 27 to July 6, 2008.

Ticket packages in all price categories will be available to the general public, ranging from $245 to $425 a ticket package for the entire eight days. That’s cheaper than one ticket to the three-hour Super Bowl.

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