- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 11, 2009

off-road, certainly off the beaten path.

EX2 Adventures is making this happen. The company was created by passionate trail runner Jim Harman in 2000 with three 10-mile trail races in beautiful parks in Northern Virginia.

The company boasts 21 races, some great trail running - but also some cross-training, too, with mountain biking, adventure racing and even off-road triathlon. This year, Harman brings back 19 of his 2008 events and introduces the Blue Crab Bolt 10K Trail Running Series.

The sixth annual Spring Backyard Burn is a series of five- and 10-mile trail running races held on some of the best trail networks in Northern Virginia. Each course includes a mixture of forested fire roads, twisty hiking trails, stream crossings, grassy fields and minimal pavement.

Races are scheduled for Prince William Forest Park in Triangle on March 8, Hemlock Overlook in Clifton on March 15, Fountainhead in Fairfax Station on March 29 and Wakefield Park in Annandale on April 5.

Runners requested races in Maryland, and this year they got two summertime races to be held at beautiful, expansive and convenient parks in Montgomery County, Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg on Aug. 1 and Little Bennett Regional Park in Clarksburg on Aug. 15. So was born the Blue Crab Bolt 10K Trail Running Series, named by a poll of EX2 followers.

Harman’s schedule also includes the EX2 Off-Road Half Marathon on May 17 in Prince William Forest Park and the EX2 Bushwhacker Adventure Running Race on May 31, 10 miles from Hemlock Overlook to Fountainhead Regional Park. The Bushwhacker consists of an on- and/or off-trail navigated adventure running race where racers choose their route to the finish as they navigate approximately 10 miles with maps.

For a truly long day of working out and fun, Harman created the EX2 Day of Endurance race with three hours of trail running followed by six hours of mountain biking. Participants can just run or bike - or both - at the Rocky Gap State Park (Flintstone, Md.) event on Oct. 3.

I have participated in many of Harman’s races, and they certainly are fun, well-organized and an excellent way of getting a change of scenery.

Filling up - If you want to be on the starting line for the April 20 Boston Marathon and have not sent in your entry, don’t wait much longer. The race is filling up ahead of last year’s pace and probably will hit its 25,000 limit in the next few weeks. For more information, visit bostonmarathon.org.

Luck of the Irish - It is amazing to think the 21st running of Washington’s annual St. Patrick’s Day 8K is coming up March 15. Seems like the first one was just yesterday, when it was a 10K around the city.

But since the beginning, and especially recently, designing the course has become more and more challenging because of the city’s pressure to keep roads unobstructed. Now the 8K course is a series of out-and-backs with four tight U-turns. Basically it looks like a “Y” with the start and finishes at Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street NW.

Before you enter, know that this is one crowded race. Check out the course at runwashington.com.

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