Because of snow and other fowl weather, the Baltimore-Washington area had gone nearly three months without a major running race until today, when the Howard County Striders staged the 10 Mile Challenge. This event pitted ten local running clubs against each other for 10 mile championship of the Maryland chapter of the Road Runners Club of America. The runners threw all their winter frustration into the race. With a dominating performance, the Falls Road Running Club of (north) Baltimore swept the men’s, women’s, and combined competitions and handed the local Howard County team a crushing defeat. “We had a pretty strong team this year,” said Jim Adams, owner of the Falls Road Running Store and principal sponsor of the winning group.
Falls Road’s Dave Berdan took the early lead in the men’s race and never looked back. Striders Graham Bazell (state cross country champion) and Izzy Mehmedovic (Strider Runner of the Year) gamely pursued Berdan and managed at least keep him in sight for the first few miles, but when he passed the five mile mark in 25:00 flat, the race was essentially over. “The last three miles were a little slower,” Mr. Berdan admitted. “Only about 5:15 per mile.” By that point, Bazell and Mehmedovic weren’t trying to win, they were just trying to keep anyone else from passing them. They succeeded by finishing 2-3, but the flood of Falls Road Runners behind them snuffed out any hopes that the local men would win.
A similar story transpired in the women’s race. Falls Roads’ Susie Emond leapt to an early lead and “kept on hammering.” “Basically, I was racing the men,” she said. Susie not only won the women’s race, but she also set a personal record of 59:27 and was the only woman in the race to crack 60 minutes. “We race and train together,” said Melissa Majumdar, Susie’s team mate. “For me, it was a just a long training run until five miles, when it became a race.” Melissa pulled ahead of her other teammates and finished second in the women’s competition.
The top Strider women were well behind these leaders. “I didn’t even see them,” lamented Strider Tasha Hogan, whose 1:06:51 placed her ninth among all women. For Beth McCubbin, a recent addition to the Strider racing team, the Challenge marked her first 10 Mile race. “I didn’t know what to expect.” An 800m track runner, Ms. McCubbin used some of her track speed to finish in under 70:00.
The 10 Mile Challenge drew a field of over 700 runners, who were all glad to be running on bare pavement for a change. Richard Bernstein directed the race, and he enjoyed the support of the Howard County Police together with a small army of Strider volunteers at the finish line and along the course. The Striders also wish to thank Steve Musselman and the Howard Community College for use of their parking lot and gymnasium as the post-race venue. The actual route through Allview and Hickory Ridge neighborhoods was recently certified by RRCA measurement officials, meaning the distance was exactly 10 miles.
The Challenge Race served as the first event in the 2010 Maryland-RRCA Championship series of races.
by Jim Carbary