300th Running of Tidal Basin 3K
by Jay Wind

I am pleased to announce the 300th monthly running of DCRRC's Tidal Basin 3K will be held at 12 noon, Wednesday, February 21, at the Jefferson Memorial.

To celebrate the 300th running, over 25 years, I shall bring about 25 prizes, courtesy of Runners World magazine, including the grand prize of a very nice Runners World tote-bag.

Highly-placed, usually unreliable sources in the Federal government have told me that construction is complete in both the parking lot at the Jefferson Memorial, and on the old 3K course, which means we will be able to celebrate the race's 300th menniversary by running the measured course around the Tidal Basin. As always, beware of low-flying cherry trees, including the infamous Scott Paris memorial tree.

The first running of this race was in April 1976, two days after Georgetown University law student Jack Fultz won the Boston Marathon. For its first 15 years, the monthly race was directed by Earl Webb of the US Department of Transportation, a colleague of Herb Chisholm and Chuck Desjardins. During those years, the race featured both a 3K (one loop) and a 6K (two loops). Webb would award certificates of completion to finishers of each race. Occasionally, other agencies would sponsor the race. Deep in my files, from the month the State Department directed the race, I have a certificate signed by then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig.

In later years, Jim Berka, a professional engineer at US DOT, became a permennial winner at the race, setting the course record of 8:57 in October 1986. Coincidentally, Berka was 5th at Boston in 1976, the year Fultz won it. Even more coincidentally, Berka and I share a birthday.

Through the 70's and 80's, each year, NASA sponsored the December race, the annual championship. NASA brought trophies for top three overall, and top men's and women's three-person agency teams. In 1987, I was third at the December championship; in 1988, second; and in 1989, I finally won it. I still have the clipping from the Washington POST and the trophy, one of the few I have kept.

In 1991, Webb retired from government, and the race began to dwindle. In February 1992, on a cold drizzly day, Herb Chisholm and I were the only two to show up. We ran together and agreed to ask DC Road Runners Club to take over sponsorship. The Club agreed to do that at its Annual Meeting at TJ Center in Arlington in March 1992, with enthusiastic support from then-president Roger Peet. DCRRC was delighted by the idea of offering a free downtown race at lunchtime. I became the coordinator of the program, which was the beginning of the basket of race stuff I keep in my car. Each month, I ask for a volunteer to step forward as race director the following month, the designated non-runner. I am pleased to say that I have had to non-run myself only once.

Since 1992, the race has grown back in size to a peak of 40, running under the cherry blossoms every April. In April 1999, we had an early Y2K bug; one DCRRC schedule published April 14 as the date, while another DCRRC schedule published April 21. Peter Blank stepped forward as race director for the extra "Leap Race."

The race has varied in length because of various construction projects, floods, ice, and beavers.

Over the past few years, the race has been dominated up front by Steve Berry, Jerry Merkel, Dan(imal) Murphy of EPA, Paul Ryan, and Ted Poulos when he's downtown. Now a new generation of runners has moved to the front. In November 2000, Kristen Seabury of Baltimore MD made history by becoming the first woman ever to win the race overall.

Now, we are back to 3000m, which is 10 meters for every time this race race been run. I hope you enjoy the 300th running of the DCRRC Tidal Basin 3K!
-- Thank you
-- Jay Jacob Wind


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