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How did DC Capital Striders get it’s start?


Many times over the last 7 years, people have asked me, “How did the DC Capital Striders begin?”  Well, here is your answer.

In spring 2006, I was having a conversation with a neighbor of mine about where people meet others in the area?  I am not talking about joining a random kickball league, or softball league and than going out to drink, or joining one of the dating websites.   I was talking about meeting others with similar interests and healthy lifestyles.  She drew me to the attention of a website called  I was first very reluctant, but then decided to take a look at this website.  I cruised around, looking at various pages and interests, some photography, some knitting, some animal lovers, foodies, and came across a page that had 3 members and was listed Washington Running.  I decided to join and give it a whirl.

I came down to the mall one early April 2006 evening and met 3 other runners. We met outside the Smithsonian metro station, ran towards the Lincoln Memorial, back up towards the Capitol building and back to the metro station.  This was way before I had a GPS system, and I had no clue how far we had run, or how fast; I just know I loved it.  This was also before I had run anything longer than a random 10K, and had never run more than around 48 minutes in my entire life.   This run was about 45 minutes long.

I decided to join again the next week and had a casual conversation with the leader about the group.  She informed me that she was headed to graduate school and could no longer take control of the group, and asked me if I would like it.  I agreed, she transferred the group over to me, and now I had a running group on with about 10 members.  I continued this weekly run down at the Smithsonian metro every week for about 2 months.  I would leave work, walk my dog, drive downtown, wait for runners, leave the run, come home, shower, and head to bed for another days work.  It was a great way to enjoy the sites around the mall in downtown Washington DC, as I live/work in the burbs of Tysons Corner, VA and Vienna/Fairfax, VA.

This run continued for about 2 months and I met a lot of really great people who I consider friends and the FIRST of MANY DCCS runners I have met over the years.  In matter of fact, this was before we actually had a name.   More on that later.  So, I had a conversation with a few people who run downtown regularly, and before long, we had a Dupont Run, a Capitol Hill Run, and a run in Georgetown.  10 members became 50, 50 became 100, and 100 became 500.  When the group got to around 500, I had a discussion with one girl in the group (Miriam) about having a name for the group.  We came up with Capital Striders, but after doing an internet search and finding a Capital Striders in Iowa (of all places), I decided to make it “DC” Capital Striders.  Another member in our group created a logo, and before long, we had a name and a logo.  Pretty cool!

Over the last 7 years, WE have turned into a very large community of runners, open to all runners of all paces and ability levels.  We have volunteered at TONS of races in the community, organized our own races for various charities including American Red Cross, Salvation Army, DC Central Kitchen, Back on my Feet, High Cloud Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and soon Special Love.  In short, it’s pretty amazing how far we have come.   Since 2006, I have completed 4 marathons, several half marathons, other endurance events, a few triathlons, centuries, and half Ironman distance races.  I also became a certified running coach through the Road Runners Club of America.

It’s become a huge part of my life and I have met a ton of amazing people!  I can honestly say one thing, I have never met a pessimistic and unhappy endurance athlete, only when they are injured naturally.   I am thankful for the ALL the amazing people over the years who have helped DCCS become what it is, and also helped me to become the athlete and person that I am today. 





Trail Running – Great Falls, Virginia

trailrun5162012One of my favorite things to do is trail run.  Why do I like this?  Well, for starters, I enjoy nature!  There is nothing better then leaving work and being able to breathe fresh air, get away from traffic, take in the scenery, and feel the earth underneath your feet.   I started trail running around 4 years ago when a friend, Elyse Braner, called and asked if I would be a co-leader for a North Face Endurance Training Program.   We met a group of runners each Wednesday evening at Difficult Run (just off route 193 – Georgetown Pike) and Saturday mornings at Algonkian (out route 7 headed towards Ashburn). 

We trained runners to run distances anywhere between 10K and 50 mile and I met a great group of runners.  Since that time, I have run my own trail races, mainly through EX2 Adventure Backyard Burn Series, but also other endurance events.   I love the group of runners I meet with on a regular basis.  They not only inspire me to be a better runner, but give me a repreive from the daily grind of work each week.

I encourage anyone who is interested in trail running to come out and meet us.  It’s a great group of very friendly people, we are accommodating to runners of all ability levels, and I promise you if you give it some time, you will come to love the sport as much as I do.

Check us out at:

A photo from last year attached.

DC Capital Striders Volunteer at Rock-N-Roll Marathon – March 17, 2012

Washington DC – March 17, 2012

On a brisk early Saturday morning, I, along with 35 of my soon to be closest friends volunteered at the Rock-N-Roll marathon in Washington DC at mile 17.  We arrived there between 7:30 am to 7:45 am.   Volunteers set up tables, poured tons of water into cups and waited for the runners to arrive.  The marathon began at 8 am.  We anticipated our first runner around 9:40 am and sure enough, here came Michael Wardian, 5 time winner of this race and local elite running favorite.  About 30 seconds later, another runner came by and then a few minutes later other runners.  These guys are fast!!   

Around 10 minutes later, our first female runner arrived.  What I didn’t know at the time was, this runner who wound up winning the race; had not run more then 10 miles before this day.  That’s impressive; but left me wondering how her legs felt on Sunday morning.

All in all, it was a great day!  We saw waves of runners pass us, many runners thanked us for volunteering and the race director came by and told us we had the cleanest aid/water station.   What he didn’t know is DC Capital Striders Running Group are pro’s at this stuff.  

Thank you ALL volunteers – please join us again at another local race and give back to the running community!

Tip of the Day:  Wear sunscreen on the back of your neck when raking cups for 2 hours.Image


DC Capital Striders Volunteer at St. Paddy’s Day 8K

On a cold, brisk, early Sunday morning, the DC Capital Striders Running Group offered a slew of volunteers for the annual St. Paddy’s Day 8K road race.   If you have never volunteered at a race before; you should; plain and simple.  It is a great way to give back to the running community; to which we take so much from.

DC Capital Striders offers volunteers to many local races annually.   Come join us sometime; meet your fellow DCCS members; and see what goes on behind the scenes.

Tip of the Day:  If you are  runner, please say thank you to the volunteers AND when you are done drinking your water, don’t toss the cup at the feet of the volunteers; wait til you are past the water station and then drop it.  We promise to pick it up.

An 8K race to benefit Wounded Warrior Project, Back on my Feet, and High Cloud Foundation

On Saturday evening May 21, 2011; DC Capital Striders Running Group organized an 8K foot race to benefit three charities. These charities included Wounded Warrior Project, Back on my Feet, and High Cloud Foundation.  Approximately 225 runners registered for the running group’s third annual 8k to support various charities.   Sponsors included Explosive Performance, The Running Company, Atayne Products, Lunar Massage, Chadwick’s Pub, Sirius XM Radio, and Seal Team PT.  Volunteers were provided by Back on my Feet and food/beverages were provided by High Cloud Foundation.  Timing services were provided by Jay Wind with Marathon Charity Cooperation.

Last May 2010, the group held it’s 2nd annual 8K race and raised $3500 for the American Red Cross International Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti.

About DC Capital Striders Running Group

Founded by Rick Amernick in spring 2006, the running group is a community of runners in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland.   Runners  come together for group runs, annual races benefiting various charities, education and support, and social events.  The group makes a place for new runners and experienced athletes – out for fun and exercise, or training for races of all distances.

Current weekly runs are featured in Washington DC (Eastern Market; Stanton Park; Columbia Heights, Glover Park), and Virginia (Fairfax Corner, Belle Haven Park, Great Falls Park (Difficult Run), and Mclean VA.

We thank these running group leaders: Tom M., Jeff A., James B. Chris G., Evelyn L.; Ashleigh C., Lindsay M., Christine M., David R., Joe S., and Kirsten W.

Visit for more information on the running group and to visit the group’s weekly calendar of runs, seminars, and other social events.

North Face Endurance Challenge and WeeklyTraining Runs

A few weeks ago (June 4 and 5) I, along with several DC Capital Striders friends and runners, had the opportunity to attend and participate in the North Face Endurance Challenge.  Several friends were running various distance events from 10K all the way up to the 50 miler.   This is one of my favorite weekends of the year!  

DC Capital Striders Running group secured a sponsorship with North Face recently and had the opportunity to have a tent at the race site for the weekend.    Members running included Chris G.; Jeff A.; James B,; Tom H., Tom M.; Theresa A.; Jeff A. and friends Autumn C and Adriana A.   Even though I wasn’t participating as a runner this weekend, the endorphins were flowing watching friends compete and accomplish such wonderful running feats.

Many local running favorites finished in the top three for the 50 mile race including Matt Woods, Jordan Mcdougal, and Michael Wardian.   Also featured on race weekend was ultramarathon favorite and North Face sponsored athlete Dean Karnazes.    I had the opportunity to meet him and also speak with the executive director of his foundation, Karno Kids.   DC Capital Striders may organize a spring race for Karno Kids with its mission to encourage, motivate, inspire youth to get outside and become physically active and to restore & preserve the environment for their use and enjoyment.

Join DC Capital Striders for weekly trail runs open to all runners at Great Falls park (Difficult Run) each Wednesday evening and on Saturday mornings at various locations around Washington DC.   Our hope to is organize a huge team for next year’s race – 2012! 

For more information, visit:  

Tip of the day:  Whether you are participating in an event as a runner, a friend, a motivator or a volunteer – you can still enjoy the experience.

DC Capital Striders Volunteer at DC Triathlon – June 19, 2011

I woke this morning shortly before 5 am welcoming the day and getting items together for the trek down to DC for the DC Triathlon; one of two major triathlons in DC each year.   DC Capital Striders was offering a team of volunteers at mile 3 on the run course in the 9th street tunnel.    I always enjoy volunteering at events such as this because it’s a great feeling giving back to the fitness community; which I take so much from.  

I met with approximately 20 DC Capital Striders volunteers bright and early.   We set up 4 tables, poured thousands of cups of both powerade and water and waited the arrival of thousands of triathletes.   The first to arrive were the age group amateur athletes and the first few that went by looked nothing like amateurs.  It’s amazing how fast someone can run after swimming 1500 meters and biking 40 kilometers!    I saw many friends from DC Triathlon Club and many others who I have trained with over the years.

After raking what seemed like thousands of cups; the professional triathletes were on their way.  You know when they are coming because they are led by a caravan of DC metro police officers and a biker making sure the course is clear.   Now, when I said the amateurs were fast, I meant it; but these athletes, wow!   They are like pure bred thoroughbreds whistling through the wind (of course there wasn’t any wind since we were in a tunnel, but you get the idea).  Some of them were passing our aid station at a 5 minute per mile pace.   All I can say is, I admire it.    

A few of our volunteers noticed one of the professional athletes who had gone down about 500 yards from our aid station.   Several of us quickly went into action and sprinted to this runner to assess the situation.   Once we arrived, we noticed he was breathing and conscious; indicating he was having a hard time breathing due to his asthma.  We quickly cooled him off, monitored him and the race first aid crew were notified.  They arrived within minutes and took the athlete back to the race start for medical care.

After all the athletes were finished their race, the aid station was cleared and about 6 of us went over to Capital Lounge for a post volunteering brunch.   A good day in DC all around and congrats to all DC Tri finishers!   I hope to see many of you at Nation’s Triathlon in the Fall!

Tip of the day:  Get the “Hangover” sandwich at Capital Lounge – even if you aren’t hung over it’s very good!  Who doesn’t like egg, cheese and bacon with jalapenos!

Saturday Morning Training Run

This morning I woke up and thought I’d take it easy and give  my left hamstring a break.   I then turned on the tube and saw the movie “Prefontaine” on Showtime Extreme at 6 am.   Of course my eyes were peeled to the screen and seconds later I felt the itch.

Luckily, DC Capital Striders has a Saturday morning run minutes from my home.  I hop out of bed, grab my favorite running gear, and made the quick trip to Mcdonald’s to fuel up on oatmeal, which surprisingly is pretty darn good.  I then headed to the W & OD Trail in Vienna, VA near the caboose to meet up with Erica W and John L.    My garmin was ready to go, heart monitor attached, some orange flavored Gu brand chomps in my pocket and my Ipod shuffle on hand.

Today’s run consisted of 7 1/2 miles at an average pace of 9 1/2 minutes per mile.  I am signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall running for one of my favorite charites, High Cloud Foundation.

Tip of the day:  Make sure your Ipod has power before you roll out the door.  Mine died within the first few minutes of my run leaving me motivated to the sounds of birds chirping and Zip wheels passing me on the trail while hearing “on your left”.  On this day, I wasn’t saying, “on your left”, I was hearing it.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates on training for distance runs, various endurance events, and tips and tricks on being a better endurance athlete, and opportunites to serve and participate in various local fitness/endurance events.