The Howard County Striders had not lost the 10-Mile Challenge race, an official Road Runner Club of America championship, in five years, but they knew they were in trouble when eight of their top runners didn’t show up last Sunday for the 2001 edition of the race. The Montgomery County Road Runners took full advantage of the situation and overwhelmed not only the defending champions but the four other clubs who posted racing teams. “This year we put the Challenge on our racing schedule, not our training schedule,” said Montgomery team coordinator Bill Riggs. Montgomery County dominated both the men’s and the women’s teams, and easily won the overall team championship. Buoyed by a strong showing on the women’s team, the Howard Countians did manage to pull out the second place overall. Rob Magin led the Montgomerians 55:15, as they placed four runners in the top 10 to Howard County’s three. Master runner Dave Berardi (age 40) and Oakland Mills High School runner Izudin “Izzy” Mehmedovic (age 16) paced the Howard Countians with times under 58 minutes. Dave had done a hard track workout the day before the race and “really didn’t plan to run faster than 65 [minutes],” while the 10 miler was Mehmedovic’s first race of that distance. Calling the hilly 10 mile course “the toughest race I’ve ever run,” Montgomery County’s Patty Fulton won the women’s race in 1:03:51. Howard County’s first women, Vicki Lang, finished the race over a minute faster than last year and claimed fifth place among the women in 1:06:32.
In spite of not having its top runners as team mates, a number of Howard Countians succeeded in setting personal records in spite of the hilly course. These included Lisa Coleman (1:08:26), Dorothy Beckett (1:11:39), Bill Arbelaez (1:09:29), and Len Guralnick (1:13:12). The race served as a Maryland State Championship team event for the Road Runner’s Club of America. RRCA President Freddi Carlip and Eastern Representative Jim Adams were on hand to hand out the team awards. The men’s, women’s, and combined teams won polished pewter plates, and for its overall championship the Montgomery County Road Runners also received the travelling trophy, “the second ugliest trophy in the world,” and will return it next year to the new champions. The first place runner, Craig Morrell, who ran unattached, also won a pewter plate, as did Ms. Fulton for winning the women’s race. All runners received complimentary runner’s gloves as well as bagels, fruit, and water refreshementsafter the “no-frills” race. A total of 305 runners finished the race, and six teams fielded full racing teams consisting of the top 12 men and three women. Ken Dent debuted as director of the race, which takes place every February. Howard Community College generously allowed runners to use its gymnasium as a staging area before the race and for the awards ceremony after the race. Howard County police provided traffic control throughout the 10-mile course, which runs mostly through the several hills of Clary’s Forest. Dozens of Howard County Striders marshalled the course early on Sunday morning, providing water and directions to the runners. Morning rains held off until many of the runners returned to the shelter of the college’s gymnasium, but many runners (and most course volunteers!) got caught in the drizzle. “People who ran fast and got in before the rain started [at 8 am] didn’t have nearly as much fun!” quipped race announcer Miles Wiegold.
by Jim Carbary