Arlington National Cemetery has become too much of a jogger's paradise for the decorum-minded Army, which said yesterday it has begun barring such active health enthusiasts from the mammoth military burial ground.
"Joggers are just running through there all the time, and it doesn't look very good," complained Col. Steve Dukkony, public affairs officer for the Military District of Washington. He said the increased popularity of the sport has compunded the problem.
What has particulary disturbed them, Army and cemetery officals say, is that some jogging-attired runners have been known to "run right through the military formation during funeral ceremonies" - completely disrupting the solemnity of the occasion.
But Larry Light, a Congressional Quarterly employe who was stopped in his jogging tracks at the cemetery gate yesterday, was not mollified by that explanation.
"I've been running through here every morning for seven months and I've never seen a funerals," said Light, who lives in nearby Rosslyn.
Calling the cemetery's vast manicured green grounds "a good, safe place to run," Light said it is an ideal jogging spot because there are no cars and you don't have to cross any roads."
The no-jogging policy, which guards at the gate were ordered to begin enforcing April 4, is not a nes regulation, according to Raymond Costanzo, cemetery supertendent.
"There's been a prohibition against recreational and sporting activities in all national cemeteries for years because these activities are not compatible with a cemetery," Costanzo said.
Army officials sort of looked the othe way for joggers, however, because there used to be so few of them.
Now, Costanzo said, "we get hundreds of them all day, and we've found that once they're in the cemetery, we lose control of them."
Jogging, Costanzo said, "is a wonderful thing. I jog, but I don't do it in the cemetery unless I want the general on my back."
The recreational prohibitions also apply to bicyclists, except for those who use their bikes to communte to work along a specified route through the cemetery.
"Unlike jogging, there is no alternative for the commuters on bikes," said Capt. Bill Altman, another puglic infromation officer for the army. He said joggers could find places to jog other than the cemetery, which he estimated has more than 170,000 graves.
"The cemetery is not a place for sports, recreation or picnicking," Altman said, noting that Arlington has between 12 and 14 funerals and burials a day. "And jogging attire is not appropriate for funerals."
Jogger Light, one of about 25 million runners in the Army could cordon funeral is taking place. He said he found it nonsensical that he will now be stopped from jogging through the cemetery "but if I wanted to walk through, I could."