Montgomery County Mauls Howard County;
BY JIM CARBARY
COLUMBIA, MD--The Howard County Striders had not lost the 10-Mile Challenge race, a Road Runners Club of America MD State Championship, in five years, but they knew they were in trouble when eight of their top runners didn't show up on Sunday, February 25, for the 2001 edition of the race. The Montgomery County Road Runners Club 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 second place overall.
Rob Magin led the Montgomerians (55:15), as they placed four runners in the top 10 to Howard County's three. Masters runner Dave Berardi (age 40) and Oakland Mills High School runner Izudin "Izzie" 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 woman, Vicki Lang, finished the race over a minute faster than last year and claimed fifth place among the women in 1:06:32.
Hosted by the Howard County Striders, the race served as a Maryland State Championship team event for the Road Runners Club of America. RRCA President Freddi Carlip and outgoing RRCA MD State Rep Jim Adams were on hand to give out the team awards. (They also helped James Moreland distribute awards for the Maryland RRCA Grand Prix during a preceding ceremony.) The men's, women's, and combined teams won polished pewter plates, and for its overall championship, the Montgomery County Road Runners Club 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, ran unattached and 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 refreshments after 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 at Howard Community College. The college generously allowed runners to use its gymnasium and locker rooms before and 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 marshaled 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 of the poor course volunteers!) got caught in the drizzle. "People who ran fast and got in before the rain started didn't have nearly as much fun!" quipped race announcer Miles Wiegold.
Notes and Quotes From George Banker
Winner Patty Fulton on the tough course:
"It was hard and each hill that I ran down I didn't realize that I had to run back up. My first mile was 6:06 and the only easy one. I was competitive in a team way, but was not on an individual level. My goal was to run sub-65 minutes. I never ran this course before," said Fulton.
"This race was tough and I need to get into shape. The loops are good in that you can see your competition and other team members. This was the hardest 10 miler that I've done. At mile five I was getting discouraged because I didn't feel good. With three miles to go I started to think positive. Once I got towards the end, the time was not so bad. You need to visualize yourself running," added Fulton.
Comments from runner-up
"At three miles I wasn't feeling good. I looked at my watch and saw 18 minutes and Patty [Fulton] was pulling away. When I saw mile six it didn't seem so bad. I like the hills and I wasn't terrorized by the course. The time was fine as long as another woman did not pass me," said Ficker.
"MCRRC has been a wonderful club to me and I wanted to come out and support them. It reminds me of running in school where you build up a team of runners. It gave us a chance to see other team members," added Ficker.
From Dave Berardi, first Masters:
"I was okay for the first six to seven miles and the last two miles I was fatigued. I wanted to race a solid effort. I should not have done the workout yesterday. I was tired out there," said Berardi.
1. Montgomery County Road Runners 502 pts.
1. Craig Morrell (unattached) 53:57
1. Montgomery County RRC (MCRRC) 165 pts.
1. Patty Fulton (MCRRC) 1:03:51
1. Montgomery County Road Runners Club 10 pts.