Regional community activists are looking to fuse environmental education with exercise as the Friends of the W&OD Trail join with local organizations and businesses to host Northern Virginia's first "green" run on June 28 on the W&OD Trail in Vienna.
The Friends of the W&OD 10K race on the trail from Church Street in downtown Vienna to Hunter Mill Road and back will follow a series of professional lectures and presentations for those looking to learn about protecting the environment.
"Everyday you read something new about the environment and more people than ever before want to do something about it," said race organizer Jay Jacob Wind. "People want to learn about what they can do to help out, and this offers them that opportunity."
A mixed event strategy, the race and informational resource looks to bring like-minded community members together to unite for a common goal, said Wind. The same strategy has been used before by co-sponsor, the Arlington Cooperation Foundation, to promote personal health and peace in various runs through Northern Virginia, he added.
By attracting running enthusiasts throughout the area, Wind and the other event organizers are hoping to bring more attention to environmental issues.
"We have the opportunity here to teach several hundred people to protect the environment that they run in," he said. "It's important for people to understand that if we need to step in and make a difference ... and we're also capable of affecting great change."
A SYMPOSIUM of presentations and lectures from environmental professionals and community leaders entitled "College of the Environment - Green University" will set the event apart from other regional races, Wind said.
Speaking of the history of environmental government regulation will be Falls Church resident Gary Baise, who was the chief of staff for the Environmental Protection Agency when it was established by President Richard Nixon.
"Any time you're dealing with an issue as all-encompassing as the environment ... it's important to have some history of where we were and how we got to where we are today," said Baise. "Hopefully after [attendees] hear some of the history, it can help them and inspire them to get more active to do more for the environment in their community."
In line with the message from Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" will be an official showing of the slide show, presenting some of his information about climate change. Trained personally by Gore to deliver the slide show will be Bethesda resident, psychiatrist and former Maryland Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Lisa Van Susteren.
"What is good about this slide show is that it directly presents people with the numbers and the data," said Van Susteren. "By seeing that data right there in front of them ... it really can help them to see what we are confronted with."
PACKAGING THE EVENT around a run on the W&OD Trail has been key to raising awareness of the environment while showcasing an example of the beauty of nature, Wind said.
"You have this long swath of fragility right in the middle of this very urban and suburban area of Virginia," Wind said of the 40-mile long trail, which is classified as state parkland. "To see that while running after learning all about the environment should be very inspirational."
Runners are typically a perfect crowd to attract to causes like protecting the environment, Van Susteren said.
"I think there is a certain amount of awareness and discipline that is inherent in the type of person who is a runner," she said, "and those are the types of people we want to be attracted to protecting the environment."