- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007

Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner. And with the spring weather comes the rush of humanity to the outdoors to prepare for that one special race this season or the race-a-weekend agenda.

Keep in mind when traveling out of the country by airplane — to places like Mexico, Canada, Latin America or the non-U.S. territories of the Caribbean (excluding Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa) — a passport is necessary to get back into the United States, even for children.

Starting Jan. 23, all air passengers — U.S. citizens or not — traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda were required to present a valid passport or other proof of citizenship.

The State Department requirement goes beyond air travel in 2008. As early as Jan. 1, all persons — including U.S. citizens — traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries) may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

The State Department has estimated that more than 1 million passport applications are currently being accepted each month. Expect a 10-week turnaround instead of six, unless more is paid for expedited service, according to the State Department.

Persistent wheels — This report from Patrice Malloy of Marathon Tours and Travel, race organizer of the eighth running of the Antarctica Marathon and Half Marathon on Feb. 26: “A hardy contingent of 188 runners from 19 countries traveled to the bottom of the Earth to challenge the 26.2- and 13.1-mile courses, which included an arduous three-quarter mile ascent of a crusty glacier. Once under way, the participants got a taste of the world’s most extreme biosphere as they navigated their way over ice and snow-covered mud, rocks and trails in sub-zero wind chills and occasional white-out conditions.

“The brutal conditions prevented Dr. William Tan, the event’s lone wheelchair competitor, from completing his second attempt at the marathon. Tan, who has completed marathons on every continent except Antarctica, could not overcome the snow drifts — not even while utilizing a customized racing chair. Tan did, however, complete the half-marathon in 5:59:29. His previous attempt at the marathon in 2005 also resulted in a half-marathon finish.”

A frigid New York — An ice and snow storm that froze the New York City area on Friday forced the postponement of yesterday’s 2007 USA Men’s 8K Championships in Central Park until this morning. The temperatures were predicted to be below freezing, with wind, at race time.

The race features a prize pot of $35,000 plus bonuses and incentives and an approximate field of 50, including Chris Graff of Arlington, Fernando Cabada of Bristol, Va., Ed Moran of Williamsburg and recent Georgetown standout and D.C. resident Rod Koborsi.

“We were hoping for a little bit of the luck of the Irish with the weather today, which we didn’t get, but we are lucky to have the option of a Sunday race,” New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg said yesterday.

“The duration and strength of the storm left the race course unsafe for high-speed runners with a sheet of ice caked below the snow despite the efforts throughout early morning hours of our crews and sanitation parks crews,” she continued.

However, it was safe enough for the NYRR 8000 — open to the general public — held yesterday as a fun run with an estimated 800 participants. Snow shoes, ice skates and cross country skies are recommended.

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