- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2007

It’s spring, at least for the last few days it has been. This means one thing: The huge fall distance races are filling fast.

The 30th edition of the Chicago Marathon opened registration Jan. 1 and hit the limit last week an astounding 45,000 entrants for a race in October, nearly six months from now. For a society short on planning skills, it’s pretty impressive so many already have committed to running in the Windy City.

Don’t despair if you wanted to run Chicago but failed to plan ahead and register six months early. You can still sign up, but you will have to buy your way into the race by raising funds for one of a whopping 85 charity partners listed at Chicagomarathon.com. Fundraising minimums vary by program, but expect to raise or donate in the hundreds of dollars.

Possibly the next race to close out on the favorite fall list is the Army Ten-Miler. More than 16,000 applications already have been received for the Oct. 7 race, the largest 10-miler in America. The cap is at 26,000, so don’t snooze if you want to run here this year.

After that is the Marine Corps Marathon Oct. 28. Online registration for one of the 34,000 spots available starts at noon May 9. Last year it took just three weeks for the race to fill up. However, early registration will be available May 8 at Pentagon Row in Arlington, where the Marines will have 1,000 early entries available.

Then there is the Nov. 4 New York City Marathon. Guaranteed entry applications are due by May 1. For runners who aren’t eligible for guaranteed status but have a U.S. address, the deadline for the lottery is June 1. The starting field will consist of more than 38,000 entrants from more than 100 countries and all 50 states. Amazingly, last year about 50 percent of all U.S. lottery applications were accepted and approximately 25 percent of non-U.S. lottery applications were accepted.

Go Grades This just in from Dave Ungrady, enterprise reporter for the World Championship Sports Network: “World Championship Sports Network, the premier destination for fans of Olympic and lifestyle sports, is offering live and on-demand coverage of the annual London Marathon via its broadband network for free.”

By the time you read this column, it could be well after the 4 a.m. starting time. But go to wcsn.com to view the comprehensive coverage on tape delay.

Classic history While today’s GW Parkway Classic has been around for nearly a quarter century, this 10-miler is by no means the first and only event run on George Washington Memorial Parkway, called the “Road to Adventure” by the National Park Service.

According to area race historian George Banker, the first running race organized on the GW Parkway was the Evening Star Marathon with its maiden run in 1932, the year the Parkway was open. The now-defunct Washington Star and radio station WMAL teamed up to sponsor the marathon from 1933 to 1937, taking its endurance athletes from Mount Vernon to the White House through Alexandria past some wasteland now called National Airport. The Grand Marshal was General Douglas MacArthur.

That marathon determined the U.S. national championship, as well as an Olympic trials qualifier, in 1935 for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Johnny A. Kelley, a 61-time Boston Marathon finisher and two-time victor (1935/1945) who died in 2004 at age 97, finished second in the 1936 evening race.

The newly formed DC Road Runners Club held races on the Parkway in 1963 and 1964 until travel problems ended the racing. The year 1982 saw a one-year revival in road racing on the Parkway and it was not until 1985 that the Alexandria Volunteer Bureau won approval for the current GW Parkway Classic from Mount Vernon to Alexandria.

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