Despite my slew of socials, my most favorite event in DC is the EU Embassy Day Open House, and since my last tour in the Navy was at EUCOM (US European Command), my love for European countries and their culture is endless.
I realized how much fun it was to visit each Embassy and relish the food and culture that the Old World offered.
So for the last 10 years, I’ve organized the fun run in conjunction with the EU Embassies Open House. The event was sponsored by RUNINOut, and this year, we partnered with Where to Next Race, a scavenger hunt running group that was looking to establish roots in DC.
On May 11th 2019, over 70 runners showed up at the Gold’s Gym in Van Ness, DC to do the two favorite things they love: Running with friends and exploring this multi-cultural city.
This was no easy task – most of these embassies were scattered all over the city. First we had to run 10-13 miles and hope the embassy would provide entry, before the lines, which usually snaked around the block, got too long.
Next there was a plethora of food and drinks at each stop, too delectable to resist, and running on a full stomach became an incredible, daunting task.
The Gym was gracious to let us use their space to gather and organize and of course use their restroom facilities. I slept in the parking lot the night before and used their bathroom and sauna first thing, and like a good trucker, I was ready to roll.
The run started with Slovakia and Austria gracious to open their doors for the runners a little bit early. There was the Red Bull van and lots of drinks to vitalize mind and body.
Then the runners headed west towards Rock Creek visiting the Kingdom of the Netherlands where the Heineken was fresh and full of body. A Dutch DJ spun international tunes in the Embassy lounge and everyone was happy to enjoy the melody and librations.
Next to Czech Republic and Hungary where we enjoyed delicious Goulash with wine and admired the athletic prowess of the Vizsla.
This year the runners were treated with a scenic stroll through the Melvin Hazen Trail. The moderately technical, half-mile stretch of quiet trail follows a tributary from Rock Creek offering lush greenery and water crossings.
Then a trek through Cleveland Park and past the National Cathedral to visit Belgium enjoying great Belgian cuisine and drinks served by Chef Bart of B-Too.
Next was Observatory Circle. In Finland, we got a VIP tour of the greenest Embassy in the US and was warmly greeted by Ambassador Koukku-Ronde and her staff.
At the UK, the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan was all the rage. I couldn’t wait to tell my sister and nieces who live in London. Then a surprise shortcut through Dumbarton Oaks Trail to visit Denmark.
Next we ran down Massachusetts Ave towards Sheridan Circle to visit Romania, Greece and Ireland followed by a trek over Rock Creek Park and a four-mile run west to Reservoir Road.
“So why do you drive a truck?” asked Kat, a runner who came all the way from Pittsburg to participate.
“Because I like to travel, meet people, try different foods and just enjoy life,” I replied, as we approached Germany, our favorite place to enjoy bier, brats, and bands.
Prost! I bought Quentin and Kat a Beck on draft, and they quickly downed it with a sweet, smoked bratwurst covered with sauerkraut while relishing the authentic Bavarian music. The expansive view of Rosslyn and the Potomac River was quite stunning.
“Another great event under your belt,” Quentin said. “I’ve visited more countries today, than I have in my entire Army career.”
“Thank you so much for everyone’s support and great job once again Jason with the photography.,” I complimented. Like all events, organizing it and executing it required a team effort from volunteers and attendees.
We were swigging down German beer like I was back in Ramstein for Oktoberfest. But we must not rest on our laurels. We had one more leg to go.
A long, stumbling run south through Georgetown University and down the Exorcist Stairs to the waterfront to visit Sweden and then to our traditional post-run party.
All good runs starts with Red Bull and ends with beer. So after a day of Heineken and Hefeweizen, we strolled over to Mr Smith’s for Budweiser, Miller Lite and Yuengling. It was great time to meetup with the rest of the runners, share stories, experiences and smiles.
Meanwhile families with children in strollers and bikes and loving middle-aged couples were walking hand-in-hand across the street at the waterfront.
“Hey Juan, when does Jon play again?” I asked.
“Actually tonight,” Juan, the owner replied. “Jon Adelson will be belting out show tunes and his favs from Frank Sinatra with the grand piano.”
Then suddenly as I was greeting each runner and their guests, an old familiar face walked in. Someone I never expected to see again. Someone who I thought had yet to forgive me.
“Stacy, what on earth are you doing here?”
“Well you told me about the run a couple of years ago, so I decided to check it out for myself – it was everything you had said and more.”
I reached over to give her a hug and this time she didn’t back away.
“And by the way, your air still works like a charm, and I’ve finally chose a theme for my site.”
I nodded with satisfaction, and I rushed to the bar to get her a Guinness.
“So how was the run?” Stacy asked.
“It was a blast. All 15 embassies were friendly and welcoming. They did an amazing job sharing their culture and culinary specialties, offering samples of cheese, pastries, chocolates, wine and beer,” I replied with appreciation.
Over the years, we have raised a lot of money for charity. In 2015, we collected $2,000 for the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. Last year – $3,155 for Team River Runner, and this year $3,000 was the total amount.
“That money was enough to purchase a trailer to transport kayaks and gear so that wounded service members can attend local paddling events,” said Joe Mornini, Director of Team River Runner.
After completing my first big load to Jacksonville, I was thrilled to return home just in time for the run. Even though I had suffered three flat tires, a weight ticket fine on the way down, and a minor accident at the receiver on the way back up, it was a positive experience overall.
And best of all, the run just keeps getting better and better each year. I truly desire to host more runs in the future while balancing my trucking career. Hopefully, it would be a long one.
It already had been a long journey to get to this point, but I was just getting started.
“Say Stacy, how are you getting back to New York?”
“Well I got here by bus.”
“Why don’t you wait till tomorrow, and I’ll give you a ride in my truck.”