Community Supports Unique Event

BY JIM CARBARY

 

 RUNNERS NEAR THE TWO-MILE MARK ON THE LONG, FLAT
LOOP AROUND COLUMBIA GATEWAY.
RICK HATFIELD PHOTO

COLUMBIA, MD--Ralph and Gina Massella lost their son, Damien, to a drug overdose last year, and resolved to make parents more aware of the dangers of substance abuse and how they could prevent similar tragedies from occurring in their families. Being a runner, Ralph collaborated with the Howard County Striders to stage the Damien Massella Memorial Run for Recovery 5K on Sunday, June 27, specifically to raise awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and educate parents about how to avoid the tragedy he had suffered. In addition to the 5K, the event also included a two-mile "Walk and Talk" where adults and kids could discuss problems they might be having.

The race drew a field of some of the fastest runners in the region. Gerry Clapper, Chris Chattin, Dave Berardi, and Neville Anderson waged a spirited battle through nearly the whole 3.1 miles, with each of them taking a turn as the leader of the pack. By three miles, the race had come down to a sprint between Clapper and Chattin, which the former won by a heartbeat in 15:32. "The finish was predictable," admitted Mr. Chattin afterwards.

Robyn Humphrey swept the women's field in 19:27, beating second place Kelly Barton by about 30 seconds. Both women admitted to performances affected by the heat and humidity of the morning. "Yeah, I love these hot runs," Robyn commented. "I just live for them!"

By only 10 seconds, Baltimore's Peter Kirk outlasted Jim Clelland for the Masters championship with a time of 16:20, which is about 20 seconds slower than he usually runs a 5K. "It wasn't a bad course for Columbia," Mr. Kirk said, referring to the hills of other Howard County courses. Strider Janet Jones claimed first among the women Masters in 20:49, which, in addition, was good for fourth place overall among the women.

The top three runners in each gender group received cash awards as well as race plaques. Age-group winners took home plaques. All participants received a T-shirt and Harvest Bar. However, everyone indicated they really came out for the cause that Ralph Massella wanted to publicize. Race proceeds went to the Howard County Health Department Addiction Program and the Anasazi Foundation for recovering addicts, and all race packets included literature on detecting and overcoming drug-related difficulties.

The race and walk took place around the loop at the Columbia Gateway business complex. Although the course was not hilly compared to other Howard County courses, the heat and humidity made for slower-than-usual times. Water coordinator Brad Speierman reported heavy business at the 1.5-mile water stop. Only the start and finish of the race were shaded. A total of 235 runners participated in the 5K and 31 participated in the walk-and-talk.

Race organizer Massella put forth a tremendous effort for the event. The post-race celebration featured a live band, lavish refreshments with pizza and ginseng cola, and announcements by Rock 98's Mark Ondayko (of Kirk, Mark, and Lopez fame), who handed out random awards and race awards. Mark also started the race. "I'm seldom around so many healthy people," he commented several times. A cameraman from WBAL Channel 11 was on hand to videotape the event, and Mr. Massella appeared on local TV and radio to publicize the race. He also had the Gateway course certified (#MD99005JS), making it the only certified 5K in Howard County, MD.

The Recovery 5K depended on a number of key Strider volunteers including Tim Beaty and Paul Goldenberg (traffic), Miles Weigold and Dave Tripp (finish line), and Jim DiScuillo and Nancy Burns (results). After the race, Ralph gave out special awards to Ray Lake (special race advisor) and Judith Colön (volunteer coordinator and registration).

MALE

1. Gerry Clapper 15:32.11
2. Chris Chattin 15:32.60
3. Dave Berardi 15:42.81

Masters

1. Peter Kirk 16:21.94

1-9

1. Chase Gilbreath 32:41.14
2. Brennan Jones 38:34.86
3. James Altvater 38:56.80

10-19

1. Mike Styczynski 16:15.76
2. Ryan Strohl 17:33.70
3. Steven Miller 18:49.50

20-29

1. Steven Bettis 17:31.06
2. Jorge Dimmer 17:53.07
3. Chris Hyland 17:59.46

30-39

1. Neville Anderson 16:05.51
2. Paul Keating 17:05.28
3. Michael Siferd 18:29.60

40-49

1. Jim Clelland 16:32.89
2. Mick Slonaker 17:54.64
3. Bob Burns 18:24.54

50-59

1. Steven Schaeffer 21:22.07
2. Tim McDermott 22:28.77
3. Kevin McMahon 24:37.76

60-69

1. Jim Turner 26:54.14
2. Edwin Wintermute 30:47.08

70-99

1. Albert Boone 30:06.26

FEMALE

Overall

1. Robyn Humphrey 19:27.32
2. Kelly Barton 19:59.50
3. Susan Ludwick 20:39.53

Masters

1. Janet Jones 20:49.90

1-9

1. Meredith Baker 38:45.57

10-19

1. Erica Morgan 25:19.90
2. Martha Hilton 28:34.19
3. Katie Dempsey 29:14.98

20-29

1. Yvonne Brach 22:04.44
2. Sarah Hilton 23:45.36
3. Bridget Hannon 25:24.10

30-39

1. Wendy Colby 22:14.48
2. Yun Xiong 23:13.42
3. Linda Wolter 24:42.67

40-49

1. Valerie Guilfoil 21:47.68
2. Dorothy Beckett 21:54.46
3. Robin Goodwin 22:00.59

50-59

1. Patricia Payne 30:23.65
2. Ellen Brown 31:54.85
3. Anne Yenchko 34:01.39

60-69

1. Rosemarie Sword 36:07.16