Students and Faculty Race Through Cherry Blossoms in “Runner’s Rite of Spring”

Authored by
Students and faculy post race in front of the Washington Monument

Each spring, thousands of tourists visit Washington D.C. to see the famous cherry blossoms. And every year, mid-distance runners have flocked to the area to run along the tree-lined Potomac River in the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run. This year, the starting line again included students, faculty, and residents from the George Washington University (GW) Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (DPT).

Assistant professor Karen Goodman, PT, DPT, is a longtime D.C. resident and runner, but this was her first year competing in the race. “Running with GW PT was a great way to connect with students outside of the classroom,” Goodman said. She said that training schedules and race goals became a common conversation topic between students and staff leading up to the race.

As a physical therapist, professor, and mom, Goodman says running is an important way for her to exercise and destress. “Running helps me stay in shape for all aspects of life—whether it is treating max assist patients or playing with my son,” she added. 

In 2022, Kristina Webster (GW DPT ’24) cheered on classmates who raced through the cherry blossoms. Inspired, Webster signed up for this year’s race -- her first ever. She said she appreciated running and training as a study break with friends, especially when the spring weather was nice.

The GW DPT community was in full force, as students and faculty donned GW PT shirts for the run. On race day, Webster was anxious to toe the line instead of cheering from the sidelines. “It was so motivating to see each other during the race,” she recalled. “We cheered for each other as we ran past, and there were lots of classmates cheering us on along the course. I couldn’t have finished the race without everyone’s support.”

Johns Hopkins Hospital/GW orthopaedic resident, Tristan Lucy-Speidel, PT, DPT, has been a runner since middle school. Lucy-Speidel’s racing career took off in college, where he ran for a Division III school in the 5,000 meters and 3,000 meters, boasting a four-time Academic All-American career. For Lucy-Speidel, running reflects his character as a PT: “We spend so much time with our patients educating them on the importance of exercise and healthy habits that we should take some of our advice and walk the walk as well.” Though the demands of residency kept him from his ideal training plan, Lucy-Speidel managed to finish the race in just over 60 minutes. 

Runners from all walks of life participate in the cherry blossom race known as the annual “Runner’s Rite of Spring.” This year’s 50th anniversary race gave GW DPT participants an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments and set new goals. Lucy-Speidel remarked that “it was such a delight to be invited by the students to run the 10 miler and represent GW PT. The race gave me time to reflect on incorporating training on a consistent basis and understand how that reflects on my practice as a physical therapist as well.” 

The cherry blossom race began in 1973 with less than 200 runners. Today, the 10-miler is one of America’s largest mid-distance races, welcoming nearly 20,000 to the starting line each spring. Since its inception, the race has been dubbed “The Runner’s Rite of Spring,” as is has become a staple in the D.C. area each April. Proceeds from the race support Children’s Hospitals that belong to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit international organization that helps treat millions of children across the U.S. and Canada. Since a consortium of credit unions became the title sponsor of the race in 2002, the race has donated nearly $9 million to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.