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Today is a sad day for Washington, DC, even if there is a *very exciting* dusting of snow. “The Awakening” statue — a huge, steel, half-buried sleeping giant — has left us. “The Awakening” giant has tried to break through the ground at Hains Point for almost 30 years, and now he is finally gone. He is relocating to a Potomac beach in Prince George’s county. Why does everyone have to leave DC for the suburbs?

The statue was at the tip of Hains Point, a 300+ acre peninsula that sticks out between the Washington Channel and the Potomac, south of Thomas Jefferson and his tidal basin. Hains Point is a funny little peninsula that is a bit out of the way, with no public transport. The only reasons for the average tourist or DCer to go there would be to see the statue or cherry trees, golf on a mostly flat public course, swim in an outdoor public pool in the summer or enjoy cycling or running on the peninsula’s mostly untrafficked roads. Hmm, when I list them all there like that, it seems Hains Point is DC’s playground. Perhaps it is, but it is also out of the way and sparsely visited.

The Awakening is so different than the men on horses and marble presidents that dominate our sculptural life here in DC.  Down on the end of the point, it seemed like a hidden treasure.

The giant was a friend for cyclists training at the point and for the poor beleaguered Marine Corps Marathon runners who had to run the Hains Point loop with nary a fan in sight. The point has a nice flat road, not very much traffic … and often killer winds from the river. Many a runner and cyclist has spent time going around and around its approximately 5K loop. “The Awakening” was like a special surprise treat out there, the reward for making it to the end of the peninsula.

On difficult brick workouts at the point, I would look forward to running or cycling by the statue — it was about all that got me through sometimes. In the midst of muscle pain, winds and the mental difficulty of running in circles, the gentle giant created a destination and a visual reward. I will miss him.

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