Running At, Not For, The White House

Mark Knoller is a White House Correspondent for CBS News.
Memo to the next tenants at the White House: The current tenants have gotten rid of the jogging track.

The quarter-mile loop around the South Lawn has been paved over. It is now an indistinguishable part of the asphalt driveway on which presidential motorcades begin and end.

The White House decided that the four-foot wide rubberized path had deteriorated over the years – and wasn't worth the cost of replacing it.

It was first installed in 1993 at the behest of the new President Bill Clinton. His morning jogging forays in Washington routinely caused traffic problems and subjected him to shouted questions from reporters. He figured a jogging track would let him run out of doors without leaving the White House grounds. Made of 4,000 crushed tires, the track cost $30,000 and was paid for by contributions collected by the National Park Foundation.

President Bush used the jogging track occasionally during his first term, but in late 2003, he was found to have a partial ligament tear in his right knee. On the advice of doctors, he gave up high-impact of running and became an avid mountain biker instead.

It's unlikely the next president will miss the track much. Sen. Barack Obama uses a treadmill for his cardio workouts, and Sen. John McCain is more inclined to go hiking than jogging.

With or without a jogging track, a first-term president is unlikely to be kept from running … for re-election.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.