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Interview with Arlington Professional Runner Mike Wardian

Ever considered running a marathon? What about in Antarctica? Arlington-based professional marathoner and ultramarathoner Mike Wardian has done both. Wardian grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., in Oakton, Virginia, and has spent most of his life in Northern Virginia. He also works as an international ship broker. An athlete all his life, Mike played lacrosse and other sports. He got into running in 1995 and has been a professional runner since 2001. We chatted with this prolific runner about his career and his love for running in Arlington.

How did you get into running?

I got into running to run the Boston Marathon, since I thought it would be a good thing to do once. A friend’s mom did it, and I thought if she could do it, I can totally do it. I realized that I had to qualify in order to do it. My first marathon was Marine Corps Marathon.

This year I’ve run over 1,400 miles in 38 races so far, not including training. I have the world record for running 10 marathons in 10 days. I ran seven marathons on seven different continents. I also ran the Beltway [the highway] that wraps around Washington, D.C.

You train a lot in Arlington. What makes Arlington a special place to run?

It’s amazing here. We have tons of green space and have interconnected bike trails. We can run all over the county. The county is 26 square miles, which is a roughly a marathon. We also have the Arlington Loop, [a trail] which I ran this morning. We have the W&OD trail and Lubber Run, which is right by my house. For me it’s one of the nicest places to live, it’s got hills and it’s got wonderful facilities. You can do hill workouts and you can get lost with all of the places to run, bike and recreate here. I enjoy running through all of the different neighborhoods and seeing the houses. You can also cross the Key Bridge and run into D.C. I used to work in Dupont Circle, and I would run-commute every day.

Our kids join in on the fun too. They are now 13 and 10, and they are starting to run with me. It’s super cool to see them grow up to take part in some of this stuff.

Do you participate in races here?

We have world-class races, but they have a nice feel and still feel like a hometown race. The quality of the races in the area is really high and they are really well organized. There is a pretty good amount of support for the races. You get a pretty good crowd—it’s amazing how many people come out and cheer for me. Starting at the end of August, you can find races nearly every weekend.

What do you like the most about running here?

We have very challenging weather here. Summer can be really hot and humid, which is a good training tool to challenge us and make us stronger. We have safe places to run—it is one of the big things I love in Arlington. I don’t have to run in traffic, and there are sidewalks most of the places in Arlington. It is nice not having to stop for a light or to cross the street. There is a lot of uninterrupted running in Arlington and D.C. The trails are well-marked and pretty easy to follow. Many trails show up on Google Maps if you get lost.

Do you have any tips for runners visiting the area?

There are a lot more places to run—go out, run and get lost. You are going to run and find the sights and sounds of Arlington. Be willing to explore. We have so many groups to run with, like Pacers, Potomac River Running, and Virginia Happy Trails. On any given day there are 10-12 group runs going on at different points. While running, make sure you look up and enjoy the sights, we have the Iwo Jima memorial [Marine Corps War Memorial] and other monuments with incredible views of D.C. There is a lot of beauty to be seen.

Follow Mike Wardian on Twitter, Instagram or facebook.com/michaelwardian or on his website at mikewardian.com.

Author: Talia Salem