RRCA Ten Mile Challenge
The Howard County Striders finally reclaimed the Road Runners Club of America 10 Mile Team Championship after several years of finishing far out of contention. On a hilly course through the Hickory Ridge and Atholton communities, they accomplished the feat by placing five men among the top 10 men (the top 17 men on each team scored) and three women in among the top 10 women (the top 4 women scored), which gave the Striders a coed team score of 1007. The Falls Road Running Club, their chief competition, came in second with 1150 points (low score wins). A total of eight teams from the local area competed for the race, in which over 400 runners from all over Maryland registered.
The Striders rallied around new President Phil Lang, and they may have also benefited from a new 10-mile course. The course was so new, in fact, the mile marks had not been painted. The lack of mile marks caused some confusion among the runners, especially among the leaders. They even questioned the lead biker about the distances. When the reply proved unenlightening, Glen Mays (DC Road Runners) and Jesse Williams (Falls Road) broke free from the pack "around five miles" and waged their own private battle for the lead. Mays overcame Williams with a late surge in what he thought was the last half mile and went on to win in 52:14, a course record for sure!
The Strider men may not have challenged for the lead, but they included some of the fleetest runners in the area. Runner of the year Mark Gilmore led the contingent in 54:45, one second ahead of highly regarded Tom Williams, who trains with the Bagel Runners on Saturday mornings. New duathlete Doug Mock celebrated his return to racing with a 55:43 and was the third Strider to finish. The next five Stridermen also broke 60 minutes. The final male Strider to finish was Dan Laukzemis (73rd place); he easily beat the last male of second place Falls Road, who was none other than team captain Jim Adams (117th place). Among the 17 Stridermen to score was President Phil Lang (1:02:01), Vice President Jason Tripp (59:22), and ex-President Mick Slonaker (1:02:51). Luis Diaz, in 54th place, also contributed to the cause, even though he started the race thinking "it was only a 5k or a 10k!"
The women's race belonged solidly to the well-known Lee DiPietro from the Falls Road Running Club. The 45-year-old master woman had little trouble overcoming the other women in the race, and she faced her stiffest competition from Janel Kiley, her own teammate. Finishing 1-2 among the women, DiPieto and Kiley ensured that Falls Road would win the women's team championship. Lead by Vicki Lang (fifth woman overall) and Julie Thienel (who set a personal record), the Strider women claimed third place among the women's teams.
The race had eight official coed teams (nine women's teams) with a total of 398 finishers. Each finisher received a pair of gloves, plus his pick of doughnuts and oranges, but there were not many awards. The overall winners received trophies, and the winning teams received trophies, but that was all. "If you won the race, you got a trophy," said announcer Paul Goldenberg. "Otherwise, nice job."
The Howard County Striders stage the RRCA 10 Mile Challenge each February, although snow cancelled the race in 2003. Richard Bernstein debuted as director of the race. Chris Selmer and Brad Speierman measured the new course and hope to certify it by next year's race. Perhaps they will even mark it!
The Striders wish to thank the Howard County Police for directing traffic. They also wish to acknowledge Steve Musselman and the Howard Community College for graciously providing the use of the gym for before and after race activities. The Striders finally want to thank the dozens of volunteers who marshaled the course and encouraged the runners.
by Jim Carbary