- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2007

Two years ago, Chris Farley of Pacers Running Store in Old Town Alexandria teamed up with one of his customers to put a race together in just two weeks to help raise funds in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

It certainly helped that his customer was political celebrity and Old Town resident James Carville, a native of Carville, La., near Baton Rouge.

Farley had expected about 800 runners for his Gulf Coast 5K race on Sept. 17, 2005. But more than 4,000 people came out as their own personal call to action, their small way to contribute to the disaster relief efforts.

Yesterday Farley and Carville were back at it again, with Farley organizing and Carville running in the third edition of the event, now called the New Orleans Rebirth 5K.

“We changed the name this year to shift focus to rebuilding New Orleans, not on the disaster,” said Farley, who said the race has generated more than $150,000 in three years for Katrina victims. “The disaster already happened; that’s in the past, but New Orleans needs to be rebuilt.”

While interest and public donations have faded since Katrina, the race still drew 1,200 entrants.

“It says a lot about the support of the community,” said the 62-year-old Carville, who finished in 27:20 but was disappointed his goal of running 24 minutes was dashed by a sudden need of a pit stop in midrace.

No such urgencies struck Jorge Medina or Katie Nowak, both of whom led virtually from start to finish. Medina, who moved to Falls Church after graduating from Indiana University (Pa.) in May, topped frequent flyer Michael Wardian 15:11 to 15:27.

Nowak, a 26-year-old Rockville resident in her last race before the Chicago Marathon in three weeks, said she was happy with her 18:05 time, a 47-second margin of victory.

“I’m training for Chicago, trying to qualify for the Olympic trials,” said Novak, who has run 2:48 in the 26.2-mile distance (victorious at the 2006 Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville) but needs a 2:47 or better to make the trials in Boston in April.

Nowak has had unfortunate conditions at her two marathons this year. She ran Boston on a cold, rainy, windy day, ending in 2:54:26 and dropped out after 16 miles in an unusually hot Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in June.

Yesterday’s race beneficiary was Friends of New Orleans, which brought in members from the affected neighborhoods in New Orleans to tell their stories. One of the Friends board members, Denise Byrne, is an Arlington resident who said she fell in love with the Crescent City when she was a student at Tulane.

“We are a nonpartisan group founded by James Carville and Walter Isaacson. We advocate for New Orleans. We link people directly to leadership in the neighborhoods,” said Byrne, who added that the group is pushing to have one of the presidential debates in their city.

Different strokes Two popular area runners were scheduled to run this morning’s Montgomery County Parks Half Marathon but for different reasons. Alisa Harvey, the 42-year-old world-class track athlete from Manassas, is readying for the Oct. 7 Army Ten Miler, where she will attempt to become the unprecedented five-time champion (to go with her titles in 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2006).

Meanwhile, Wardian of Arlington, Harvey’s junior by nine years, will use the half-marathon as a training run in preparation for the 26.2-mile Olympic marathon trials in New York on Nov. 3.

Range rover — Track & Field News points out in its October edition that Alan Webb possesses the greatest range of any American track runner ever by ranking in the top nine all time from 800 meters (eighth) to 10,000 meters (ninth). The other distances are 1,500 (third), mile (first), 3,000 (sixth with his two-mile time converted) and 5,000 (sixth).

Raise the bar Jim Barrineau of the Potomac Valley Track Club won the men’s 50-54 high jump at the world masters championship in Riccione, Italy, on Sept. 12. Barrineau and three other leapers cleared 1.75 meters, but Barrineau won gold because of fewer misses.

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