Since it's inception in 2010, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon has served as the Visually Impaired Half Marathon Championships, where the blind sometimes lead the visually unimpaired athletes. The event offers a chance for competitive, visually impaired (VI) athletes to take center stage and earn coveted prize money. Over the past few years the Georgetown Running Club has put it's best foot forward to help make the VI Championships a success by volunteering as guides for the VI runners. This year was no different. GRC once again, stepped up to lend support. However, this time the club did not just find itself guiding competitors. Due to a last minute schedule change, the VI coordinator slot was empty less than a week before the championships. That is where I stepped in.
I've been wanting get involved since I saw Dickson Mercer and Chicken Tender Runner (Andy Sovonick) lead their VI athletes to outstanding finishes in prior years. Being the (self-proclaimed) mid-distance runner that I am, I could not trust myself to guide these exceptional athletes the full 13.1. So the VI coordinator position offered a special opportunity to interact with the VI athletes during a majority of the race weekend, before and after the race. Duties involved assisting the athletes to the pre-race VIP dinner, an EARLY morning round up on race day and helping them back to the hotel after many ran their half-marathon PR's.
This year we saw the VI course record go down as reigning champ, Aaron Scheidies, set a personal record with his guide, the ageless wonder, Dangerous Dave Wertz. Dave was THE guide of the day, leading Scheidies from Mt. Vernon to the finish at National Harbor. It was an exceptional feat considering the number of turns in the last two miles that required heavy communication from Dave, who had just ran over 10 miles at a (not so modest) 5:50 min/mile pace. When Dave volunteered to guide Aaron planned his fall race schedule accordingly. With the, now infamous, government shutdown, Dangerous Dave was forced to make a decision between asking Aaron to find a replacement or drop his fall race plans and reschedule to make the VI championships. He made the right decision and raced into history with Scheidies. Next time you run into Dave, be sure to thank him for his unblemished record of selflessness.
When all was said and done, I was glad to be a part of such a unique, fun and rewarding event. It is opportunities like this that help us realize the bond that ties runners together. Through running we are connected without bounds and without limits. At least now I know what I'll be doing during the 5th Annual Woodrow Wilson Half Marathon.
One last thought; I'd like to send a big thank you out to all Veterans who have served and continue to serve our country. God bless you.