(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Famed local ultramarathoner Michael Wardian is going full Forrest Gump and running across America.
The 48-year-old Arlington resident and noted athletic adventurer has a new running challenge: to run from sea to shining sea.
The journey begins this Sunday (May 1) at San Francisco City Hall. Wardian will follow U.S. Route 50 to Arlington and, then, onto Dewey Beach, Delaware. His mission is to dip his toes in the Atlantic Ocean on July 4. That’s 3,184 miles in 65 days.
“With no planned rest days,” he tells ARLnow on the phone from San Francisco. “At least, that’s the plan right now.”
Wardian is doing this to raise money for World Vision, an organization that works to provide clean and safe drinking water to families across the globe. His goal is to raise $100,000.
It will be his longest run ever, an attempt inspired by his run across Israel back in 2019.
“It’s something I’ve never done before. I’m looking forward to it,” he says. “But also a little nervous.”
Wardian is known for incredible feats of the foot. That includes running seven marathons on seven continents, setting treadmill records, and logging 260 miles running loops around Arlington Forest. He also has recently set his sights on mastering pickleball.
He was actually planning to run across the country back in 2020, but the pandemic pushed those plans back two years.
“This has been my dream for, like, 20 years. And now it’s finally coming to fruition,” he says.
With him running nearly 50 miles per day, Wardian acknowledges the effort will take a physical and, crucially, a mental toll. This will be the longest he has ever been away from his family, he noted.
But Wardian is not doing this alone. He’ll have support alongside him the whole way, including someone very special. Trailing behind him in an RV will be his dad, there to prepare meals, do laundry, and just be supportive.
“This is a chance to reconnect with my dad… this is the longest I’ve ever been with him since I moved out 25 years ago,” Wardian says. “He’s going to be cheering for me the whole time.”
There are several ways to keep pace with Wardian on his months-long journey from coast to coast. There’s the normal social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. There will also be real-time tracking along with a detailed day to day schedule (including endpoints).
For those who get the bug, runners can also join Wardian on his journey at any point and for any distance — yes, much like Forrest Gump and his running entourage — by reaching out to [email protected].
About 40 people have already committed to joining him at some point one the expedition, including a few Arlington pickleball buddies.
“Hopefully, I can pop in on some [pickleball] games along the way,” he says. “I’d also like to play chess at various places too.”
Oh, Wardian is an avid chess player as well.
Wardian understands why he’s sometimes compared to Forrest Gump: the beard, the long hair, and the jogging across America.
“I have been called ‘Forrest Gump’ about a gazillion times… over the years and across the planet so I completely understand and embrace that,” he says.
But there’s one difference, he says, between him and the fictional character.
“Forrest Gump, to me, wasn’t quite sure why he was running at first but eventually he found what he was looking for,” Wardian says. “Which is different than me.”
Jogger Robbed Near Rosslyn — “The victim was jogging in the area when the unknown male suspect approached, grabbed her by the arm and pushed her away while attempting to remove her cell phone from her hand. A brief struggle ensued, during which the suspect stole the victim’s cell phone before fleeing the scene in a white sedan. The victim sustained minor injuries and did not require the treatment of medics.” [ACPD]
JBG Announces Carbon Neutrality — “JBG Smith Properties, in its 2022 Environmental, Social and Governance report released Friday, said it achieved carbon neutrality across its 16.8 million-square-foot operating portfolio in 2021 as a result of its purchases of carbon offsets and renewable energy credits… More than 50% of the Bethesda-based firm’s holdings are located in Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard, the area branded as National Landing.” [Washington Business Journal]
ACPD Motor Officer Is No. 1 — “Over the weekend, members of the Special Operations Section competed in the 2022 NOVA Motor Rodeo. Congratulations to all the participants including ACPD’s Corporal Maxwell who placed 1st in the Individual Slow Ride – Police Category!” [Twitter]
More Dangerous I-395 Driving — From public safety watcher Dave Statter: “This is a new one for #395cam: Driver gets halfway down Rt 110N ramp & decides that’s not where they want to to go. Watch what they do.” [Twitter]
It’s Tuesday — Possible light rain in the afternoon and evening. High of 66 and low of 57. Sunrise at 6:18 am and sunset at 7:57 pm. [Weather.gov]
Specialty athletic shoe store Road Runner Sports is sprinting towards opening next week in Pentagon City.
It will be the first Arlington location for the running shoe retailer, with its next closest store being in Falls Church. It’s filling the 4,500 square-foot space at 1101 S. Joyce Street once occupied by Unleashed. The Petco off-shoot closed more than a year ago.
This is the store’s 42nd U.S. brick and mortar location.
“We’ve enjoyed serving customers in our Falls Church location and know our opening in Arlington will provide us with the opportunity to help even more consumers achieve their running, walking and fitness goals,” the company’s director of customer acquisition Sean Peterson tells ARLnow.
As part of its planned opening on Friday, Feb. 25, the store is partnering with Project Sole, which will donate three dollars to the nonprofit Athletes Helping Athletes (AHA) for every used or unwanted shoe collected. AHA helps provide free adaptive bikes to children with permanent physical disabilities.
The store was first announced in October. Back in November, a spokesperson for Federal Realty Investment Trust, which owns Westpost, told ARLnow that Road Runner was on track for May or “possibly earlier.” It appears the shoe store will end up opening several months sooner than expected, a rarity as supply chain woes delay many retail and restaurant openings.
This includes Nighthawk Pizza, a beer and pizza hall with a “90s vibe,” which is aiming for a late March opening. The Baltimore-based Banditos Bar & Kitchen, at last check, is hoping to open by April.
Photos from ANC Wreath Event — “Wreaths Across America returned to Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 18, 2021. People from across the country turned out to lay memorial wreaths in honor of American servicemen and servicewomen. See photos of the 2021 event below.” [WTOP]
DCA to Stay at Pre-Covid Levels for Years — “Passenger totals at Northern Virginia’s two main airports are expected to be back to more than 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022, but are not currently anticipated to exceed the pre-COVID level before 2027.” [Sun Gazette]
More About Swanson MS Incident — “Finally, some details on last week’s @SwansonAdmirals ‘weapon’ incident. In stark contrast to school officials’ characterizations, the police report calls it ‘assault with a knife.'” [Twitter]
YHS Athlete Named Runner of the Year — “Overall Runner of The Year: Owen McArdle (Yorktown) — Nothing is better than seeing an athlete improve year after year and go from running 23:05 in 2018 to running 15:05 as a senior and winning a state XC title. Not to forget, he made the Eastbay National meet as well in San Diego, something few VA athletes have ever done.” [MileSplit Virginia, Twitter]
‘Elf Ugly Sweater Party’ Tuesday — “Gift Certificates from Lost Dog Cafe, William Jeffrey’s Tavern, Rebellion on the Pike and of course US!! Prizes, Free Comedy Tickets & Themed Drink Specials – Dress up as your favorite character or in your ugliest sweater to WIN. Come out a celebrate the Holidays with one of the best holiday movies.” [Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse]
New ARLnow Comment Policy — Effective immediately, the posting of national political memes or restricted, copyrighted images (such as syndicated editorial cartoons) is against our comment policy. Non-political memes and Creative Commons-licensed images (such as xkcd cartoons) are generally okay. [ARLnow]
It’s Monday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 43. Sunrise at 7:23 a.m. and sunset at 4:55 p.m. Tomorrow will be partly sunny, with a high near 48 and a low near 30. [Weather.gov]
Carbeque on I-395 — A car was engulfed in flames on I-395 near Shirlington Circle last night. Southbound and HOV lanes were blocked as firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze. Most lanes reopened by 8:30 p.m. [Twitter, Twitter]
YHS Runner Advances to National Meet — “Yorktown High School’s Owen McArdle has qualified to run in a national-championship race. By virtue of finishing fifth in 15:05.49 at the Eastbay South Regional boys championship high-school cross country meet, the senior earned a spot in Eastbay’s boys national meet Dec. 11 in San Diego. The top 10 finishers in region meets earn a berth to race in the nationals. The winning time at the South Region meet was 15:00.31.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Records More Opioid Deaths — ” In an already deadly year for overdoses, Arlington County recorded at least two more opioid-related fatalities since the Thanksgiving holiday. Out of the 149 overdoses in the county (as of Nov. 26), 26 of them were deadly, according to the Arlington County opioid incident data. The 2021 numbers have surpassed the total for 2020.” [WUSA 9]
D.C. Area Home Prices Keep Rising — “The median price of single-family homes in the Washington region posted a double-digit year-over-year increase in the third quarter, but its bump up was below that of the nation as a whole. With a median sales price of $548,600 across the D.C. metro region, the area’s single-family home price rose 11.5 percent from the same July-August-September period in 2020, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s December — The first day of December (today) will be warmer than the last days of November. The kickoff of meteorological winter will be mostly sunny, with a high near 52. Sunrise at 7:08 a.m. and sunset at 4:46 p.m. There is a chance of rain between 8 p.m. tonight and 8 a.m. Thursday. Otherwise, Thursday will be partly sunny, with a high near 61, and a southwest wind 6 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. [Weather.gov]
Running Store Coming to Pentagon City — “Federal Realty Investment Trust has leased the last bit of vacant retail space at Westpost, the 14-acre mixed-use development a short walk from where Amazon.com Inc.’s new headquarters buildings will stand. The leases put the roughly 297,000-square-foot retail center on course to be fully occupied in the first half of 2022 after a handful of notable vacancies, including the nearly 34,000-square-foot former Bed, Bath & Beyond to be replaced by a Target store, and the roughly 4,500-square-foot space where Road Runner Sports will replace a shuttered Unleashed by Petco.” [Washington Business Journal]
Library Seeking Latino History Donations — “Over the last three decades, Arlington’s Latino community has rapidly grown and stockpiled a wealth of history. And this week, librarians and historians at the Center for Local History at Arlington Public Library are asking for donations of documents to archive the county’s Hispanic history. The project is called Re-Encuentro de Arlington Latinos.” [WTOP]
Rock Climbing Gym Goes Green — “Earth Treks Crystal City prides itself as a rock climbing outlet for people living in a metropolitan area and the business in northern Virginia hopes its roots in rock climbing can bring forward better environmental practices… Earth Treks announced recently its partnership with a Virginia company that allows its climbers to bring in old and rundown equipment — shoes, water bottles and harnesses — which will be reused in a variety of ways, including to make dog harnesses.” [WUSA 9]
Synetic Returns to Theater — “Last night night found me in Crystal City, where Synetic Theater was back in its performance venue for the first time since the pandemic, staging a production of ‘The Madness of Poe…’ Performers were not masked, a nice change after recent experiences with a number of troupes who use Arlington Public Schools facilities and are not allowed to let their actors, though all vaccinated, go without masks.” [Sun Gazette]
New Commuter Bus Service Funded — “The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission plans to fund a new express bus service, part of efforts aimed at reducing congestion connected with Interstate 66 and the Beltway. The commission approved a plan yesterday to fund the bus service with over $5.1 million for two years. Routes would run from the Reston South Park and Ride lot to key destinations in Arlington County that include the Pentagon, Pentagon City and Crystal City.” [Reston Now]
More Studies for Route 7 Bus Route — “A regional study of the proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) route from Tysons to Alexandria is moving into a new phase that will assess options through the Seven Corners area. The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission voted last night (Thursday) to approve a contract for the fourth phase of its Envision Route 7 mobility analysis study.” The bus might also make a stop at the East Falls Church Metro station in Arlington. [Tysons Reporter]
“I’m super into it. I just won my first tournament last weekend,” Wardian says, taking a breather from playing and a sporting a pink T-Mobile shirt and hat.
The 47-year-old Wardian is probably most well-known to area residents for his running feats, including completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, running more than 260 miles in a loop around the Arlington Forest neighborhood, and winning the inaugural Marine Corps 50k in 2019.
But now, he’s on to pickleball.
“There’s a sense of newness and beginning something [with pickleball],” Wardian says. “With running, if I want to do something I haven’t done before, I’ve got to do…something pretty huge to have some freshness. It’s fun to be a newbie at something.”
He only started playing the sport a few months ago, in May, when a friend asked him to join a game while in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He ran out to Walmart, grabbed a paddle, and played five games.
“And I just fell in love with it,” Wardian says. “I was like, ‘man, this is like the coolest sport ever.’ I thought it was an old person’s sport.”
While it’s true that pickleball began as a preferred sport for older adults due to its low-impact on joints, it has since grown in popularity with younger adults and, even, kids. There are now more than four million players nationwide, according to the USA Pickleball Association. That number includes Wardian.
“I had no idea how much skill was involved or how addictive it could be,” he says.
While there isn’t complete overlap, Wardian’s ultramarathon skill set has come in handy on the pickleball court. His discipline, endurance, and tall stature all have come in handy.
“I cover a lot of ground,” Wardian says. “I can get to almost any ball. I’m tall and long, so I have good reach.”
One of the pickleball skills he’s working on is controlling his shots and not hammering the ball so hard so it goes out of bounds.
But he’s learning quickly. He estimates he’s invested about 150 hours into the sport so far and is already doing well in tournaments. In fact, Wardian is considering becoming a pro pickleball player. The top players can make tens of thousands of dollars in winnings, not to mention sponsorship dollars.
Because of his running, Wardian has sponsorship deals with local businesses District Taco, Pacers, and MedStar Health as well as T-Mobile (hence, the shirt and hat). Now, he’s looking to get some for his pickleball prowess and is speaking with online retailer Pickleball Clearance about opportunities. He’s also hoping to become an ambassador for the sport through the US Pickleball Association.
“I just want to grow the audience and get more people excited about the sport,” he says.
Pickleball hasn’t been the only thing filling Wardian’s time in recent months. He’s also an owner and partner of Potomac Maritime, working with carriers and ships carrying humanitarian aid and food cargo, which is his main source of income.
Unsurprisingly, Wardian is good at chess too and plays in chess tournaments. He’s also part of several clubs (including the Arlington Chess Club), and coaches the game to younger players.
At one point, he compares chess to pickleball, saying both are about placement, strategy, and knocking the opponent off balance.
“You set up your shot,” he says. “You hit one shot to knock them back and, then, when they’re back, you can put the ball somewhere else.”
For Wardian, no matter what he’s competing in, he is always striving to be at a high level. There is a sharp competitive edge to it all, but his hardest opponent is himself.
“I like seeing what’s possible,” he says. “I like challenging myself.”
When asked what’s the next sport or activity for him to master, he rattles off cycling, surfing, open water swimming, and deep sea fishing. It’s clear he’s already thought about the future.
After talking and a few photos, he heads back to the pickleball court. An average game of pickleball takes about 20 to 25 minutes, but he’s still harping on the last game he played that lasted only about ten minutes.
“We got our asses kicked,” Wardian says. “But we will get the next one.”
ACFD Vaxed to the Max — “Of the public safety departments surveyed by the I-Team, the Arlington County Fire Department has the most vaccinated, with 82 percent of its roughly 360 employees receiving the shot. Alexandria’s fire department, Frederick County, Maryland’s fire department and Montgomery County police are close behind, reporting about 70 percent of their members vaccinated.” [NBC 4]
Law Enforcement Memorial Day — Today starting at 8 a.m. “[t]he Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will host a virtual Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to the memory of Arlington’s seven fallen law enforcement officers.” [ACPD]
Covid Testing for APS Athletes — “Beginning the week of May 10, APS will begin providing daily free COVID-19 testing for student athletes. The testing is optional and will be conducted at the three comprehensive high schools with written parent/guardian consent. These efforts are put in place to prevent and mitigate transmission of COVID-19 among athletes.” [Arlington Public Schools]
DJO Grad to Kick for UNC — “Bishop O’Connell High School graduate and Great Falls resident Ethan Torres played four years of college football for Bucknell University as a place-kicker, and now will play a fifth season this coming fall for University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a graduate transfer student.” [Sun Gazette]
Runners Enjoy Rainy Crystal City 5K — “They lined up in waves, socially distanced for The Great Inflatable Race: Pacers 5k in National Landing. Only 250 runners instead of the normal 1,500… ‘This is one small step toward normalization,’ says runner Ian Squires.” [WJLA]
Jeopardy Asks Arlington Question — “We made Jeopardy! again. From last Friday. Category was A Whopp’ington’ of a City.” [Twitter]
Nearby: Mosque Knife Incident — “A Falls Church man is under arrest and faces charges after Fairfax County, Virginia, police said he pointed a knife at several people in a Seven Corners mosque.” [WTOP, Annandale Blog]
Our Arlington Agenda post is back for the first time since the pandemic started.
As a reminder: Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like your event considered, fill out the event submission form to submit it to our event calendar.
Monday, May 3
Patterns at Gallery Underground
Shops at Crystal City, 2100 Crystal Drive
Gallery Underground in May presents in the Focus Gallery, Patterns: an all-member show of works highlighting pattern and texture. Media used in the display include oil, acrylic, pastel, water media, sculpture, glass, ceramics, wood and metalwork.
Tuesday, May 4
Protecting What You Build: Intellectual Property as the Entrepreneur’s Core Asset
Virtually via Zoom
Time: Noon-2 p.m.
This free session hosted by the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) at GMU Law School will guide attendees through types of intellectual property and how experienced entrepreneurs rely on them to implement their visions.
Wednesday, May 5
This webinar will review all Virginia laws going into effect on July 1, 2021, ensuring landlords understand new laws and know they are operating within the law — particularly regarding the legalization of marijuana.
Thursday, May 6
Drop in our monthly 30-minute book buzz with local librarians, with library staff and the public swapping book recommendations.
Friday, May 7
Second Anniversary Fundraising Event
Troy’s Italian Kitchen (2710 Washington Blvd)
Time: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Troy’s Italian Kitchen is celebrating its two-year anniversary with a fundraiser to give back to the community. A portion of proceeds on Friday will go to the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the Lyon Park Community Center.
5K Fridays: The Great Inflatable Race
Courtyard Green (2121 Crystal Drive)
Time: 6-7 p.m.
Pacers and the National Landing BID’s annual 5K series returns this Friday with a wacky summer inflatable attire theme. Registration is limited to 250 participants, so make prospective runners should sign-up in advance.
*Denotes featured (sponsored) event.
Gold’s to Open Outdoor Workout Space — “Gym goers in Arlington, Virginia, will soon take spin classes on an open air training terrace instead of peddling away indoors. Gold’s Gym will open a turf-covered outdoor promenade for classes and training sessions at a new location that’s set to open over the Rosslyn Metro station in early 2021.” [NBC 4]
Beyer Blasts Trump Stimulus Decision — Before the president seemingly reversed his reversal, Rep. Don Beyer said in a statement: “President Trump’s stunning reversal on stimulus negotiations could not have come at a worse time. Just as a bipartisan deal to support American families, boost the economy, and fight the pandemic seemed increasingly promising, the President made the bewildering decision to walk away from talks completely.” [Press Release]
Sexual Assault on Silver Line — “An attacker tried to rape a woman Tuesday on a Metro train in Northern Virginia, the transit system said. The attack occurred about 11:35 a.m. on a Silver Line train between the McLean and East Falls Church stations, Metro said.” [Washington Post]
Water Work in Rock Spring — “Emergency Water Main Break: 4953 Little Falls Rd. Crews have been dispatched to the location. Little Falls Rd b/w Old Dominion and N Columbus St will be closed until about 12pm on 8/7.” [Twitter]
Arlington Man Attempting Major Feat — “Ashley set a goal of being the first kidney donor to complete the seven summits — climbing to the highest point in every continent. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, but his goal remains on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on travel.” [RunWashington]
Local Events for Domestic Violence Awareness — “October 1 marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month… In moving our awareness into action, Project PEACE is partnering with Northern Virginia regional domestic violence agencies to #PowerUpNoVA with free awareness and educational opportunities that spotlight less commonly recognized forms of abuse.” [Arlington County]
Update on Northam’s Symptoms — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said this week that he has developed ‘mild’ symptoms of covid-19 more than a week after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, but he is continuing to conduct business remotely. ‘I had a little bit of cold-like symptoms over the weekend and lost my sense of taste or smell, but other than that, I feel fine,’ Northam (D) said Monday.” [Washington Post]
A man groped a woman on a trail near Ballston Monday afternoon, according to Arlington County Police.
The incident happened on the Custis Trail around 12:30 p.m. Police say the woman was jogging when the man, who had just jogged past her, turned around and grabbed her buttocks.
More from an ACPD crime report:
SEXUAL BATTERY, 2020-10050088, N. Glebe Road at 15th Street N. At approximately 12:37 p.m. on October 5, police were dispatched to the report of a sexual assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was jogging in the area on the Custis Trail when she observed the male suspect jogging towards her. After they passed each other, the suspect turned around, approached the victim from behind and grabbed her buttocks. The suspect fled on foot prior to police arrival. The victim was not injured. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, pudgy, 5’6″-5’8″, with brown eyes, wearing a tan baseball cap, a white shirt, cargo shorts and white tennis shoes.