Mike Bartholomew feels running six miles a day as a member of Chantilly High School's hapless cross country team is grueling enough without being knocked into a ditch by an automobile.
The 16-year-old Fairfax County junior suffered multiple cuts and bruises Wednesday when a car struck him after repeated passes as Bartholomew and 23 other team members ran along Walney Road, two miles from the school.
Chantilly cross country Coach Jim Sweet said yesterday Bartholomew "looked like he had been dragged through a briar bush" after the incident.
A brief brawl ensued when the car's occupants, four girls and a boy, fought female members of the team before fleeing the scene of the incident, according to authorities.
Police later arrested five juveniles and charged the 16-year-old female driver with hit-and-run. Her four passengers were charged as accessories. Police and all five were intoxicated.
Bartholomew, the team's third best runner who has posted a time of 16:45 for a three-mile course, said he had been late for practice and was trying to catch up to his teammates on their six-mile afternoon run when the incident occured.
"I saw the car up ahead, but I didn't even know what was going on," Bartholomew said. He said the carload of youths first shouted epithets at the runners before turning around to drive their car directly at the team, swerving away at the last moment.
The youths had turned around again to make a second pass at the enraged runners when the car hit Bartholomew "with a thud. I got knocked into this ditch next to the road," he said.
Bartholomew was treated for his injuries and released from Commonwealth Doctor's Hospital.
"I felt kinda weird," Bartholomew said. "My head was spinning, but the car had stopped to see if I was all right. Then I saw one of the girls in the car punch one of the runners in the back."
"It's the first time I've run into something like this," said coach Sweet. "Some members of the team knew the kids in the car, but I'm sure that this was not a personal vendetta."