- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2007

The road closures in Rock Creek Park have prompted the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile to reconstruct its route.

For the first time in its 36-year history, the race commonly known as the “Runner’s Rite of Spring” will move from its former West Potomac Park staging area to the grounds of the Washington Monument. The April 6 race, which includes a 5K run-walk, will start and finish on 15th Street adjacent to the Washington Monument grounds.

According to race officials, “the revised route will feature more cherry trees than ever before, with a 3-mile circuit under a canopy of legendary trees in East Potomac Park (Hains Point) in addition to the traditional sections past the trees along the Tidal Basin, Independence Avenue, and the always popular Memorial Bridge crossing.”

The final map of the course is not yet available.

The new layout, however, allows race officials to increase the size of the field to 12,000. Historically, the field of the 10-miler has been limited by the U.S. Park Police because of their concern over safety issues and course crowding. The wave start last year helped accommodate the 10,964 finishers, split fairly even between men and women.

The new staging area also may encourage more runners and volunteers to leave their vehicles outside of the Mall area since the Smithsonian Metro stop is just a quarter-mile away, and the Metro will open at 5 a.m., nearly three hours before race time.

On-line registration begins Dec. 11 at 8 a.m. and usually fills up within days. Runners can sign up to receive an e-mail reminder about the opening of on-line registration or a mail-in entry form at the event’s Web site at www.cherryblossom.org.

The construction on Rock Creek Parkway also has thrown a wrench into the plans of the Marine Corps Marathon. Officials there unveiled in mid-August the new course, with the 2007 race adding a pleasant tour around the Georgetown Reservoir and alongside the Georgetown Canal.

A marathon, sort of — The Annapolis Striders Metric Marathon is a good alternative to the convention 26.2-miler.

The Oct. 7 race in scenic Harwood, Md., is 26.2 kilometers (16.3 miles). The race is out of Southern High School, and course is quite beautiful and fairly shaded, on scenic paved roads with gently rolling hills with significant hills at 12 and 14 miles.

The metric marathon is a good, challenging distance for those not ready for the classic marathon distance.

Webb closes strong — Reston’s Alan Webb ended his season yesterday by topping defending champion Canadian Kevin Sullivan at the Fifth Avenue Mile in Manhattan 3:52.7 to 3:52.9. The 24-year-old Webb improved upon his second-place effort at Fifth Avenue in his only other appearance at the race in 2005.

Webb’s training partner Chris Lukezic of the District was seventh in 3:58.0.

The women’s field, however, was stacked, with Canadian Carmen Douma-Hussar (4:22.8), Amy Mortimer of Providence, R.I. (4:23.6) and defending champion Sara Hall of Big Bear Lake, Calif. (4:24.1) taking top honors.

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