Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Several parents with children in Arlington Public Schools have formed a group to address what they say are persistent racial disparities in the county’s school system.

The group, Black Parents of Arlington, shared a pamphlet with public data on issues like discipline they say show how APS students of color are being left behind. Together, the members plan to advocate for solutions and support other parents of color in running for PTAs and APS advisory positions.

“Yes we are happy to know that the majority of black students are taking at least one AP or IB class,” said BPA member Amina Luqman-Dawson. “However, it is really sobering to see that the pass rates are at 31%.”

Another area where disparities exist: standardized testing. The latest results from state-mandated Standards of Learning tests show disparities between white, Asian and multiracial students on one side, and black and Latino students on the other side, the Sun Gazette reported Tuesday.

Members said they were proud of APS’s high on-time graduation rates, but pointed out that APS data indicates only about 46% of black students earned advanced studies diplomas over the last three years — compared to around 82% of white students.

“We’re not looking for just passing, we’re looking for excellence,” said Luqman-Dawson, who lives in Shirlington and works with education policy and non-profits.

Another data set highlighted in the group’s pamphlet is the rate at which white youth versus black youth are entered into APS’s Gifted and Talented Program: 12% percent of black students in 2017-2018 entered the program, compared to 25% of white students.

“We are not only looking at how black students are being negatively stereotyped,” said Luqman-Dawson. “I think you’re also looking at how white students are being favorably viewed.”

In response, Arlington Public Schools acknowledged the issue and said it is continuing to work to close what it described as an “opportunity gap.”

“We agree that there is a gap that exists between student groups,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said in a statement today (Wednesday). “We have a professional commitment to close the opportunity gap, and this is a top priority for APS and the School Board.”

Bellavia said APS needed to make more improvements, but highlighted some the school system had made, including:

  • Increasing the graduation rate of black students
  • Increasing the pass rates of mathematics standardized tests for black students
  • Hiring a Diversity Officer with the fiscal year 2020 budget
  • The APS Mathematics Office holding four parent-teacher sessions for black families

The school system has previously faced scrutiny for its discipline rates, racist reactions to a diversity sign in Yorktown High School, and more recently, for backlash after a teacher unknowingly-planted cotton. In May, APS also signed a Department of Justice settlement over inadequate support for English-language-learning students and their families.

BPA member Sherrice Kerns, who lives in Penrose and works as a policy analyst, pointed out in a Tuesday interview that these findings mirrors national data about racial disparities in schools. 

“APS is certainly not immune to these sorts of disparities,” she said.

“This is not unique to Arlington,” agreed Bellavia in his statement. “School systems across the country have been addressing this challenge for a long time.”

Today, BPA’s members say they hope to work together on several problems, including:

  • Closing the achievement gap between black and white students
  • Making staff cultural competency training mandatory
  • Updating discipline policies to ensure black students are not excessively punished nor unfairly prosecuted

Members of the group all told ARLnow that they hope BPA can help advocate for other parents of color who don’t have time for nighttime meeting and advocacy. They also are seeking to boost membership in PTAs among black parents. The group is planning a cookout for parents interested in joining BPA on Sunday, September 8 at Alcova Heights Park (901 S. George Mason Drive) from 3-5 p.m.

“One of the our goals is to bridge the gap between the parents who aren’t able to show up to meetings,” said Luqman-Dawson.

The members said overall they support APS, with several mentioning they moved to Arlington because APS was highly ranked and offered quality programs. But since then, Luqman-Dawson said it’s been “sobering” to see racial bias even at the schools as good as the ones in APS.

“It’s hard to send a child to school thinking that they are going to be victims, or going to be poorly judged,” she said.

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With dangerous, scorching heat prompting warnings from forecasters and local officials, organizers of outdoor events are reconsidering their plans this weekend.

Among them: the popular, annual Crystal City Twilighter 5K race.

The race, which was scheduled for Saturday evening, has been cancelled, the Crystal City Business Improvement District said this afternoon.

“The Arlington County Fire Department & Pacers have deemed the weather conditions unsafe and the event will not be rescheduled,” the BID said via social media. “If you are registered already you will be contacted by Pacers directly and you can still pick up your packets with your shirt at the Pacers store today and tomorrow.”

The Twilighter 5k race tomorrow has been canceled. The Arlington Arlington County Fire Department & Pacers have deemed…

Posted by Crystal City on Friday, July 19, 2019

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(Updated at 11:00 a.m.) The Armed Forces Cycling Classic is returning to Arlington this weekend, prompting several road closures.

Teams will compete in a series of races sponsored by the the Boeing Company on Saturday, June 1, to win the “Crystal Cup.” The teams will then return on Sunday, June 2, for a chance to win the “Clarendon Cup.” This series marks the 22nd year for the annual event.

This Saturday, the race will open with an all ages “Challenge Ride” from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at 2100 Crystal Drive along a 10 kilometer track. Afterwards, the event will shift gear to line up the day’s professional and amateur races.

ACPD said police will close several streets in Crystal City and Rosslyn from 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, including:

  • Crystal Drive, from S. 15th Street through S. 23rd Street
  • Wilson Boulevard, from N. Kent Street to the Route 110 ramp
  • Route 110, from Rosslyn to Crystal City
  • S. Clark Street, from S. 20th Street to S. 23rd Street
  • S. 20th Street, from Crystal Drive to S. Clark Street
  • S. 18th Street, from Crystal Drive to S. Bell Street
  • S. 23rd Street from Crystal Drive to S. Clark Street
  • Crystal Drive (West side), from S. 23rd St to the Central Center Parking Garage
  • S. 12th Street and Long Bridge Drive

Competitors will roll into the Clarendon Cup Cycling Classic on Sunday. Professional teams will race 100-laps around a 1 kilometer area. Police said they plan to close the following roads from 4:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to accommodate the event:

  • Wilson Blvd, from N. Fillmore Street to Washington Blvd
  • Clarendon Blvd, from Washington Blvd to N. Fillmore Street
  • Washington Blvd, from Wilson Blvd to N. Highland Street
  • North Highland Street, from Wilson Blvd to Washington Blvd
  • North Garfield Street / N. Fillmore Street, from Wilson Blvd to Washington Blvd

Organizers recommend attendees park at the Crystal City underground at 1600 Crystal Drive but warn them to remove bicycle roof racks from vehicles before driving down into the parking garage.

The county said in a press release that parking near both races is limited, and is encouraging attendees to use Metro or ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Metro-goers can access the Armed Forces Cycling Classic from the Crystal City Metro station, and the Clarendon Cup race via the Clarendon Metro station. Both stations are open during Metro’s summer shutdown south of Reagan National Airport.

For both events, police are warning drivers to keep on the lookout for additional road closures and “no parking” signs in around the events.

Flickr pool photos by Michael Coffman

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An annual 5K race through Fairlington is scheduled for Saturday (April 27) to support Ellie McGinn — a local fifth-grader with a rare degenerative brain and spinal cord disease.

The race raises money for A Cure for Ellie, a foundation supporting research at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore that aims to cure McGinn’s disease: leukodystrophy. The race is now in its sixth year and researchers are now in the process of testing new therapies.

There are fewer than 100 known cases of the disease, but over the last year a girl in another local family was diagnosed with the same disease, said race organizer Beth McGinn.

The run also raises money for Abingdon Elementary’s physical education and literacy programs, which helps sponsor P.E. events and book clubs at the school.

The non-competitive and family-friendly event is hosted by Abington Elementary — where McGinn attends — and the Fairlington Citizens Association. As of yesterday, McGinn said 550 people had registered.

Registration in the 5K is $35 for adults or $20 for children, which includes a t-shirt for participating in the race. A one-mile fun-run is $15 for adults or $12 for children. The race website says that dogs and strollers are welcome. Race packets can be picked up tomorrow (Friday) from 3-6 p.m. at 3035 S. Abingdon Street.

Several streets in Fairlington will be closed from 7-9:30 a.m. on the day of the race, according to Arlington County Police:

  • Abingdon Street between 29th and 36th streets
  • 36th Street between 34th Street S. up to and including Stafford Street
  • Wakefield loop off 34th Street S.
  • Utah Street between 32nd and 34th street

Photo via A Cure for Ellie. Route map via Arlington County Police Department.

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Crystal City’s 5K Fridays are just around the corner for those looking for a “low key race” each week.

The race series returns to Crystal City for its 10th anniversary this year. Starting on April 5, runners can race each Friday starting 6:30 p.m. Billed as the area’s “fittest happy hour,” Crystal City 5K Fridays give race participants tickets for exclusive bars after they finish.

The race itself starts and ends at the Crystal City Courtyard Green (2121 Crystal Drive), looping along Crystal Drive and Long Bridge Drive.

Attendees can register here and pay $25 for one race, or $75 for all the races which comes with a free T-shirt.

Crystal City 5K Fridays is organized by Pacers Running store and sponsored by the Crystal City Business Improvement District and JBG Smith.

Runners can check their bags with race attendants before the 5K begins and will have access to restrooms in the Crystal City Shops (2100 Crystal Drive), per the organizer’s website.

Participants can use a water station at the start line to fill up water bottles and will be able to refill at another water station organizers say will be outside Long Bridge Park.

Current course records for the Friday race are 15 minutes, 10 seconds for men set by Bert Rodriguez in 2011, and 16 minutes, 22 seconds for women set by Susanna Sullivan in 2016, according to the Pacers website.

Photo via Pacers Running

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Morning Notes

Baby Boy for Cristol — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol gave birth to her first child, a baby boy, this past weekend. She plans to call in to Saturday’s County Board meeting and participate in the crucial Amazon incentive package vote. [Twitter]

Building Plans for Temporary Amazon Office — JBG Smith “submitted plans March 7 to make common area improvements throughout the 12-story, 221,000-square-foot [office building at] 1800 S. Bell St., to be leased in full by Amazon.” [Washington Business Journal]

County May Change Building Plan Practices — “Arlington officials are considering ending same-day viewing at the Department of Community Planning, Housing & Development after a Washington Business Journal reporter asked to view a permit for a building Amazon.com Inc. is expected to lease, said Ben Aiken, director of constituent services in the county manager’s office.” [Washington Business Journal]

VRE Plans Moving Forward — “Virginia Railway Express is moving forward with plans to build an expanded Crystal City Station, a key step needed to expand and improve service. The VRE Operations Board is due to vote Friday to allow contracting to move forward for engineering work based on the already approved concept design.” [WTOP]

New Leases in Rosslyn — Earlier this week Monday Properties announced the signing of three lease deals at 1100 Wilson Boulevard, one half of its Rosslyn twin towers. The firms leasing new space are The Health Management Academy and Trilogy Federal LLC, while WJLA owner Sinclair Broadcasting is expanding its existing space. [Monday Properties]

Extensive Road Closures Saturday — Expect a number of road closures in Courthouse, Rosslyn and near the Pentagon Saturday morning for the annual Four Courts Four Miler. [Arlington County]

Nearby: Gentrification Fears in Arlandria — “Concern of rising rents and gentrification have always been present in the Arlandria neighborhood, which sits between South Glebe and West Glebe roads and ends at Potomac Yard. Amazon.com Inc.’s plan to move to nearby Arlington has only intensified those worries.” [Washington Business Journal]

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New research suggests that people living in Arlington’s poorest neighborhoods also have the fewest opportunities to lead healthy lives when compared to other communities throughout the entire D.C. region.

A study commissioned by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University show that many of Arlington’s most diverse neighborhoods with the lowest median incomes, such Columbia Heights, Nauck, Douglas Park and Buckingham, also scored the lowest in their measure of “health opportunities” across metropolitan Washington. The results closely mirror a previous study’s findings that people living in many of the same neighborhoods lack economic opportunities as well.

The researchers developed a “Healthy Places Index,” known as HPI, to evaluate not only health outcomes (like life expectancy) in each community, but also to understand whether people have the opportunity to be healthy based on where they live. That includes evaluations of factors like air quality, access to healthcare, housing affordability, the availability of public transportation and education levels.

The study applies that index to neighborhoods across the D.C. area, examining communities using granular Census tract designations to detect patterns within counties and cities in the region. Though the group found that the overall health of the 4.5 million people living in the District and its suburbs is “excellent” and “well above the national average,” they also uncovered “islands of disadvantage” within even wealthy localities like Arlington.

Even though some of the more affluent, higher educated areas of the county rate quite highly in the study’s measure of health opportunities, others rank among the lowest in all of Northern Virginia. The researchers identified the Columbia Heights neighborhood, just off Columbia Pike, as having one of the “the lowest HPI scores in the region,” noting that about 23 percent of adult residents there live in poverty. Buckingham, located along Route 50, also posted poor HPI scores, and the study noted that its residents have a median income of about $38,125 annually.

“The researchers found stark contrasts in socioeconomic and environmental conditions in Northern Virginia, often between neighborhoods separated by only a few miles or blocks,” the VCU academics wrote. “As was observed elsewhere in the region, people of color were disproportionately exposed to adverse living conditions.”

To illustrate those points, the study compared McLean — one of the wealthiest and whitest communities in the area — to Columbia Heights. The former ranked among the top-scoring neighborhoods in the region on the HPI, a far cry from Columbia Heights’ own performance.

“The population in the McLean tract was predominately white (70 percent) and Asian (19 percent), the population in Columbia Heights was largely Hispanic (51 percent) and black (19 percent),” the researchers wrote. “More than half was foreign-born, and most immigrated during 2000-2009.”

While the researchers identify a whole host of factors that could be contributing to such a split, they also stress that it is impossible to ignore the impact of “institutional racism” in understanding why such a divide exists between the races when it comes to health opportunities. They note that discriminatory housing and economic policies mean that people of color are “more likely to live in racially and ethnically segregated neighborhoods that suffer from decades of disinvestment,” which can have a whole host of negative consequences for their health.

“As a result, neighborhoods of color often lack access to affordable high-quality housing, stores that sell healthy foods, green space, clean air and clean water,” the researchers wrote. “These communities are often targets for fast food outlets, tobacco and alcohol marketing and liquor stores. These conditions affect not only the health, economic opportunity, and social mobility of people of color, but they also weaken the health and economy of the entire region.”

Accordingly, the study recommends approaches recognizing that history to officials sitting on the Council of Governments, as they try to craft a response across the region.

“Real solutions require targeted investments in marginalized neighborhoods to improve access to affordable, healthy housing as well as affordable transportation, child care, and health care (e.g., primary care, dental care, behavioral health services),” they wrote. “Everyone benefits from this approach, not only the residents in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, but also the entire regional economy. Economic and racial inequity saps the strength of the economy. Everyone pays a price for inaction: persistent poverty and social isolation fuel discontent, unhealthy behaviors (e.g., drug addiction), crime, and violence.”

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(Updated at 6 p.m.) Striking new research reveals that where children are born in Arlington can have a decades-long ripple effect on their futures, with kids in the county’s more ethnically diverse neighborhoods growing up to make less money and end up in jail at higher rates than their counterparts.

The analysis, compiled by the Census bureau and a team of academic researchers, shows that children born to a family in a wealthy, predominantly white North Arlington neighborhood earn tens of thousands of dollars more, on average, than kids from a more diverse, lower income South Arlington neighborhood. Incarceration rates generally follow the opposite pattern.

These effects largely persist regardless of a child’s race, or the income level of their parents, mirroring results researchers found around the country in creating this new “Opportunity Atlas.” The interactive map combines anonymized data on 20 million people born 30 years ago with granular Census tracts, in order to provide a glimpse of the gaps in opportunity across different neighborhoods nationwide.

Researchers are still sorting out the exact reasons behind these disparities — everything from the quality of local schools to an area’s employment rate could help explain the variations. But officials and public policy analysts increasingly view this data as a key way to guide where government intervention might be most needed to lift people out of poverty, particularly when evaluating which neighborhoods have borne the brunt of decades of racially discriminatory policies.

In Arlington, the atlas helps provide concrete examples of how the split in income levels and diversity between the northern and southern halves of the county affect residents of each neighborhood.

For instance, kids born in the Douglas Park Census tract, an area just off Columbia Pike with the largest share of non-white residents in the county as recorded in the 2010 Census, grew up to record an average household income of $36,000, regardless of their race or income level. That figure is the second lowest in the entire county.

Low-income children, defined as those born to families making $27,000 a year or less, in the area grew up to make $33,000 a year. High-income kids, who were born to families making $94,000 a year, grew up to make about $51,000.

In Nauck, a historically black community, children grew up to earn $34,000 a year, the lowest salary in the county.

Children born to low-income families made $30,000 a year, the lowest figure among that cohort in the county. Kids in high-income families there grew up to make $42,000 a year, again the lowest for the income bracket in Arlington.

People in Nauck are also incarcerated at the highest rate in the county — 4.8 percent of the people studied in the area are currently in jail. That includes 6.9 percent of children born to low-income parents and 1.6 percent of those born to high-income families, rates that are both among the highest in the county.

The results are also striking in the High View Park Census tract, which encompasses the historically black Halls Hill neighborhood, which was literally walled off from its white neighbors for decades in the Jim Crow era.

Kids growing up in the area, of all income levels, went on to make about $44,000 a year, roughly the median for the county. Low-income children, however, recorded the third lowest salary among that group in Arlington, at $29,000 per year. High-income kids went on to make about $57,000 per year, much more towards the county’s median. The neighborhood has the second-highest share of incarcerated residents in the county, with 9.2 percent behind bars.

By contrast, children born in the county’s whitest areas tend to grow up to become considerably wealthier, regardless of their family’s income level.

In the county’s Census tract with the lowest share of non-white residents (an area including neighborhoods like Bellevue Forest, Dover Crystal and Woodmont), children grew up to make an average of $68,000, tied for the second highest salary in the county. Low-income kids recorded that same $68,000 average, as did high-income kids.

Similarly, the county’s second whitest Census tract — an area in Northwest Arlington containing neighborhoods like Country Club Hills and Arlingwood — kids grew up to make $80,000, the highest salary in the whole county. Low-income kids eventually made an average of $51,000 per year, while high-income children made it to $70,000 a year.

And, in the vast majority of the county’s whitest areas, incarceration rates were below 1 percent.

Graphic via Opportunity Atlas

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Tens of thousands of runners will flock to the streets of Arlington and D.C. Sunday for the Army Ten-Miler race, with a changed-up course that will prompt a slew of road closures.

The 10-mile race starts and ends at the Pentagon. The course will guide participants along Washington Blvd into Rosslyn, then across the Key Bridge into the District, before they return to Arlington via I-395.

This marks the first year the course won’t include the Arlington Memorial Bridge, due to substantial renovations, in the race’s 34-year history.

County police are warning drivers of an extensive list of road closures, which include the following:

  • Route 110 between Rosslyn and Crystal City will close in both directions beginning at 5:00 a.m. and will remain closed until approximately 2:00 p.m. Motorists can use the George Washington Memorial Parkway as an alternative route. There will be no access to southbound Route 110 from N. Marshall Drive. The public may access Arlington National Cemetery from N. Marshall Drive.
  • I-66 westbound from Washington D.C. to N. Nash Street will close from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Motorists can use the George Washington Memorial Parkway or Route 50 as an alternative route.
  • Lee Highway westbound at N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway eastbound at N. Lynn Street will close from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • The Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge will close in both direction with no vehicular access from approximately 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • I-395 HOV northbound from Crystal City to the 14th Street Bridge will close at 6:00 a.m.
  • S. Eads Street from Army Navy Drive into the Pentagon/northbound I-395 HOV lanes will close at 5:00 a.m.
  • I-395 southbound HOV exit to S. Eads Street/Pentagon south parking lot will close at 5:00 a.m.
  • Route 27 in both directions from George Washington Memorial Parkway to I-395 will close from 7:00 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Army Navy Drive from S. Eads Street to S. 12th Street will close from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • 12th Street from S. Eads Street to Long Bridge Drive will close from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Long Bridge Drive will close from S. 12th Street to Boundary Channel Drive from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Police hope to re-open all of these roads, except Washington Blvd, by 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Pentagon’s north parking lot will be restricted to authorized vehicles only between 4:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Pentagon employees and memorial visitors will be able to use the south parking lot.

Police are encouraging race participants and attendees to use Metro to reach the race, as the rail service will open an hour early, at 7 a.m. The race has also designated a drop-off point for rideshare drivers at the intersection of S. 12th Street and S. Hayes Street.

Participants in wheelchairs and “Wounded Warriors” will start the race at 7:50 a.m., with subsequent waves of runners following soon afterward.

Organizers expect to attract as many as 35,000 participants and 900 teams. Full details on the new course and other logistics are available on the race’s website.

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Clarendon Day, one of Arlington’s oldest and largest street festivals, will return this Saturday (Sept. 22).

The event will dominate the heart of Clarendon’s main strip of businesses from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., offering all manner of exhibits, food, drinks and performers. The Clarendon Alliance, which organizes the event, is expecting as many as 20,000 attendees this year.

The fair will run rain or shine, and offer dozens of vendors, Virginia wine and beer and food booths from restaurants in Clarendon and elsewhere around Arlington, per its website.

Performers at the event’s two stages include:

Main Stage

  • 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Ruepratt
  • 12 p.m.-1 p.m. Soul Stew
  • 1 p.m.-2 p.m. Calista Garcia
  • 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Dave Kline Band
  • 3 p.m.-4 p.m. SubRadio
  • 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Fellowcraft
  • 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Bushmaster featuring Gary Brown

Performers Stage

  • 12 p.m.-12:30 p.m. Adagio Dance Company
  • 1 p.m.-2 p.m. Carley Harvey
  • 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Ballet Nova
  • 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Melissa Elizabeth Wright
  • 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Jaleo Arte Flamenco
  • 4:30 p.m.-5 p.m. O’Neill – James School of Irish Dancing

The Clarendon Day 5K and 10K races, backed by Pacers Running, will also return Saturday. The races are set to begin at 8 a.m.

Arlington police are warning of plenty of road closures associated with the race and the event itself. From 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. the following will be closed:

  • Wilson Boulevard between Washington Boulevard and N. Garfield Street
  • Clarendon Boulevard between Washington Boulevard and N. Garfield Street
  • N. Highland Street between 11th Street N. and N. Hartford Street

And the race will prompt the following closures from around 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.:

  • Wilson Boulevard, between N. Garfield Street and Route 110
  • N. Kent Street, between Wilson Boulevard and 19th Street N.
  • The entirety of Route 110 northbound, from Route 1 to Wilson Boulevard

Organizers recommend biking, walking or using public transit to reach the event to avoid those closures.

File photo

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Construction on the Arlington Memorial Bridge has convinced organizers of the Army Ten-Miler race to change up its course, marking the first time in the race’s 34-year history that participants won’t cross the bridge.

The 10-mile road race, set for Sunday, Oct. 7, starts and finishes at the Pentagon. Since 1985, the race has directed participants along the Memorial Bridge to reach D.C., but with rehab work necessitating a series of traffic disruptions in the area, organizers announced today (Wednesday) that they’re opting for a few changes to the course.

Now, runners will start on Route 110 and continue into Rosslyn, using the Key Bridge to cross into the District.

Then, competitors will turn onto the Whitehurst Freeway and use the Rock Creek Parkway to eventually pick up last year’s course near the Lincoln Memorial.

“This year’s modified course will reduce congestion within the first two miles and allow the runners the opportunity to settle into their pace,” Race Director Jim Vandak wrote in a statement. “We believe our 35,000 registered runners will be pleased and the changes will improve the runners’ experience.”

Participants in wheelchairs and “Wounded Warriors” will start the race at 7:50 a.m., with subsequent waves of runners following soon afterward. All participants must maintain a 15-minute-per-mile pace or better, complete the entire course, and finish the race within two-and-a-half hours to receive an official race time and results.

Organizers estimate that they attract 35,000 participants and 900 teams each year. Full details on the new course and other logistics are available on the race’s website.

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