On behalf of the Howard County Striders, we would like to thank our volunteers and sponsors for making this event a success!!!
Conducted by the Howard County Striders, the Run Through the Grapevine 8k last Sunday at the Linganore Winery tested runners’ abilities to climb extreme up and down hills, ford streams, cross muddy terrain, and avoid tangled roots and vines— as well as their ability to follow a marked race course that actually did pass back and forth through grapevines. Unfortunately, the top three runners in the race flunked the last part of the exam. Less than half a mile from the finish, the trio of Adam Wytko, Steve Olenick, and Sean Trombly were well ahead of the rest of the field but somehow missed the last turn into the last set of grapevines. Before they recognized their error, they had overshot most of the grapevines and turned up an earlier part of the course, eventually finding themselves wandering among cars in the parking area. Olenick and Trombly dutifully followed the leader Wytko in this escapade.
Not knowing the leaders’ errors, Ryan Hevner and James Blackwood were running just behind and did make the correct turn. “I thought I was running for fourth or fifth,” said Blackwood, who let Hevner pass him in that last set of ‘vines, “and I thought fifth was pretty respectable.” They were surprised to learn they had finished first and second when they crossed the finish line. “I had run the last half mile during warm-up,” Blackwood confided, adding “and there was an arrow [to mark the turn], too!”
The women’s race featured a different type of drama between two women who run the Grapevine race each year to see who’s the best. Although they train together regularly, Sherry Stick and Jill Krebs attacked each other mercilessly during the 8 km race. First one would go ahead, and then the other, up and down the extreme hills and through the root-tangled woods and especially on the muddy hill half-way through the race. “It was a real death match,” Jill said, “just like in the last few years.” This time, Stick emerged victorious, crushing her rival on the last agonizing uphill in through the last grapevine. “We didn’t have any trouble missing the turn,” Sherry said.
Of particular note was the performance of Keith Levasseur, who ran the Baltimore Marathon a few weeks ago in 2:46 while wearing flip-flops. Just the day before the Grapevine race, Keith had completed the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail Run, negotiating snow (from Hurricane Sandy) up to a foot deep, as well as the usual assortment of ultra miseries. Keith finished the Grapevine 8k in an astounding 32:20 and placed second among the 30-34 men. He did not wear flip-flops this time. Keith and James Blackwood, along with Grace Tran (who also finished that 50-Miler!), also served on the “We R Wine Bottles” team that finished first in the Open Coed Team Division.
The 2012 Run Through the Grapevine closed its registration its limit three weeks before race day. 669 runners completed the arduous race. The top runners in each gender earned gift certificates to Feet First of Columbia, as well as cash awards. Age group winners and winning teams earned bottles of wine or gift certificates for wine from the Linganore Winery. After the race, the sun came out and many stayed around to lounge in the grass and munch of crackers and cheese and sip wine. Everyone who cross the finish line received a genuine Run Through the Grapevine wine glass so they could drink their wine.
Jason Tripp directed the race, which featured course marshals from the Howard County Strider racing team. The Striders thank Anthony Aellen, proprietor of the Linganore Winery in Frederick County, for the use of his grapevines.
For 17 years, the Run Through the Grapevine 8k course at Linganore Winery was actually a little short, so this year an extra hill was added around another grapevine to satisfy a more exact measurement. The unofficial story for the route change, though, was that Mark Buschman vowed to beat the best time of Pekka Stenholm, a former racing team member who had moved back to his native Finland. Mark and Pekka had met at the Berlin Marathon earlier in the year and must have had a discussion about the Grapevine. Race director Jason Tripp decided the course should be as accurate as possible, so a course extension occurred, and Mark failed by 20 seconds to beat the time (about 30:30). Everyone else reported slower times at the Grapevine “8k” this year, too.
The extra 0.2-mile didn’t bother Carlos Renjifo, who won the race by over 1:30, the largest margin by which anyone had ever won the race (29:07). Carlos led the field for essentially the entire race, although he inexplicably went off course twice. Once, he took second place Andrew Revelle off course with him, and third-place Mike Colaiacovo shouted to them to turn left rather than right. They quickly corrected themselves and resumed the competition. “I thought I could run in 27 or 28 [minutes] but I couldn’t,” Carlos said, not realizing the extra mileage had its effect. Still, he was the only runner in the field to break half an hour on the treacherously hilly course.
The women’s race was a much closer affair than the men’s. Initially, Howard Countian Rian Landers-Ramos assumed the lead, but then Jill Krebs took the lead after emerging from the second set of grapevines. Jill and her teammate Sherry Stick battled “back and forth through the woods.” Jill then took “a weird step” at four miles and Sherry was on her. “I could see she had her game face on,” Jill said. “I knew it was all over.” A perennial winner, Sherry hung on to win by 12 seconds (35:03).
Elkridge’s Donna Wecker outsprinted Jane Wickman of Germantown to claim the award as top master-woman (41:25). Although Donna regularly runs trails, she had never run Grapevine before and was not prepared for the steep hills and ankle-twisting grass. “The hills were brutal,” she said, “and there were soooo many of them.” Donna turns 50 in a few weeks and will then begin to terrorize the grand-master women.
The top master man was Mike Colaiacovo, who finished third overall (30:53) and earned and overall award. The next fastest master was grandmaster Keith McIntyre (34:03). Keith’s stunning performance was blunted only by his son Conner’s beating him.
The Run Through the Grapevine featured a plethora of team competitions. The Howard County Strider Men’s team, with Renjifo, Revelle, Buschman, and Colaiacovo crushed the opposition to win the overall men’s team competition with a perfect score of 10 points. The Baltimore-Washington Athletic Club consisted of Stick and Krebs with their old pal Diana Pool and new-comer Joan Namasinga had a nearly perfect score of 13 in winning the women’s team competition. Put together by Steve Anderson, the OMG men’s masters team won a prize for the seventh year in a row (although it was only men’s masters team). There was no prize for the best team name, but some of the outstanding samples were “Mac Attack” (the McIntyre family) and “Merlot is how we roll” (Ken Miller, Jeanine Rogers, and Laura and Ryan Guenin).
The 18th Annual and Newly-Recalibrated Run Through the Grapevine took place at the Linganore Winery in Carroll County on November 11. The race is staged each year by the Howard County Striders, who wish to thank the winery owner Anthony Aellen for the use of his grapevines and hills. Jason Tripp directed. Award winners received gift certificates for bottles of wine, which they could redeem immediately after the race. The weather was so nice this year that many stayed after the race to enjoy wine and lunch under pleasant autumn skies.
The race sold out two weeks before with a total of 650 registrants. Of these, 573 actually showed up and ran the race. “Not a record, but close,” said official scorer Jim DiSciullo.
07 November 2010
A person under 20 years old won the Run Through the Grapevine 8k for the first time in the race’s 17 year history. On the notoriously hilly cross country course at Linganore Winery, Kyle Phillips took the lead after the first mile and was not challenged thereafter. Phil Diven tried to catch up, but couldn’t get closer than about 20 meters throughout the remainder of the race. “I was on a bungey cord,” Phil said. “Behind by 20m, then 30m, then 10m at the finish.” That big hill at 2 1/4 miles slowed all the front runners except Phillips, who merely pulled away. “Those were among the toughest hills I’ve ever run,” he confessed. Born in the same year that the Grapevine was first run, Kyle runs for Waynesboro High School and had run the Pennsylvania State Cross Country Championship (a 5k) the day before. “I didn’t win there,” he noted. Because of his age and educational status, Phillips could accept the neither the prize bottle of wine nor the award check, which was instead donated to Waynesboro High.
As she has several times before, Westminster’s Sherry Stick dominated the women’s competition and won the race. Although the well-known Denise Knickman was on her heels throughout the race, Sherry’s greatest danger proved to be a recording glitch that had an unknown woman finishing fourth overall in 29 minutes. Once this error was corrected, Sherry became the uncontested winner. “No, I never saw her [Knickman]”, Stick said. Sherry previously won the Grapevine race in 2008, and in 2009 she placed.
Phil Devin may not have won the race, but his “Old Dragons” team won the men’s open team competition. The team was composed of alumni and former runners from Howard Community College. Their old coach, Steve Musselman, even accompanied them to the race. They felt it quite a triumph to beat the Waynesboro High School team!
To no one’s surprise, Sherry Stick’s team from Westminster, BWAC (for Baltimore-Washington Athletic Club), easily won the open women’s team competition. BWAC overcame a cursory challenge from Howard County’s Run-4-Chocolate women and won for the seventh time in a row. Or maybe longer, the records don’t go further back. They have been winning the women’s team race since young Kyle Phillips was in diapers.
A truly epic team competition arose in the Family Team competition, as the Gesslers’ Whinery faced off against the McIntyre’s Mac Attack (“Mc” attack– get it?). Both teams were lead by their respective fathers, and both featured seasoned high school cross county runners. The Mc’s won this round, possibly because Becky Gessler was running on a sprained ankle. “Yeah, it hurt,” Becky said.
This year’s Run Through the Grapevine followed the same difficult course as usual through the grapevines of the Wineberry Plantation of the Linganore Winery, which is technically in Carroll County not Howard County. Nevertheless, the Howard County Striders staged the event. Jason Tripp directed the event, and had the assistance of the Winery and its owner Anthony Aellen. For the first time, the Grapevine employed chip-timing using the Chronotrack Timing system. This may be also the first time any timing chips were ever employed in a cross country race in Carroll County.
Post-race refreshments included four dozen loaves of nut bread, which has been a signature of the event since its inception. In the old days, former race directory Gerry Clapper baked all the loaves himself, but in the modern era the baking task has been shared by ten Strider women, most of them members of the notorious Run4Chocolate teams. Indeed, the chocolate nut bread was particularly good. Award winners also received gift certificates for the wine, which they immediately redeemed after the race. Because of the fine autumn weather, many runners lingered after the competition to enjoy wine and condiments on the lush grass of the winery.
by Jim Carbary
“Those Westminster girls always win,” Howard County’s Tasha Hogan (5th F) said about the women who crushed their opposition at the 16th Annual Run Through the Grapevine 8k at Linganore Winecellars last Sunday. The team of Jill Krebs (1st F), Sherry Stick (2nd F), Diana Poole (3rd F) seized control from the start of the race and ran together as a pack for the first 1½ miles, where Jill began to “push the pace.” Jill and Sherry pulled away on “that horrible hill” on the backside of the course at 2½ miles, and Jill was running in front by the time they reached the pond around 4 miles. Sherry still had a shot at winning as the two entered the last row of grapevines, but Jill held her off and won in 33:47. “I was just trying to stay on my feet,” Jill remarked. “Well, she took every turn at a suicidal speed,” Diana commented. Their winning all-woman team, the Baltimore-Washington Athletic Club, also included Kelly Gruber, Joan Namasinga, and Blayke Hall. Formed of runners local to Carroll County, the team has never lost the team competition at Grapevine.
In spite of a muddy, rain-slicked course, the top four or five men in the race zipped through the first mile in around 5:20. They had gone through two rows of grapevines at that point. The field had dispersed somewhat after they circled through the back part of the course and climbed the steep muddy hill that confounded everyone. When he reached the pond around four miles Joe Weigner was nearly 30 seconds ahead of Stephen Moxley, a past winner of the race. “He didn’t seem pressed at all,” eyewitness Dave Berardi said about Mr. Weigner, who went on to win the men’s race in 28:34.
Among the top five men were Montgomery County’s Mark Hoon and Howard County’s Mike Colaiacovo, both of whom were masters running with the lead pack (for a while). Mike had just turned 40 over the summer and managed to fend of Mark as the fastest master runner in the race. With a time of 29:59, Mike finished fourth overall and missed third place overall by only seven seconds. He was the last runner to finish the race under 30 minutes.
The top master female was Jane Wikman of Germantown, who finished in 38:42. But grandmaster Pat Wilkerson was less than 30 seconds behind. “And I helped with the baking, too,” Pat said about her role in assembling the vast store of nut breads available at the post-race celebration.
Like any true cross country race, Run Through the Grapevine had team competitions. The top women’s team has already been mentioned. The top men’s team from Montgomery County (which included third place Andrew Sovolnick and fifth place Mark Hoon) easily won their category because they were the only team in the category! Among the other teams, the most noteworthy may have been The Gessler Whinery, consisting of Bobby Gessler and his four daughters, Katies, Julie, Amy and Becky, who easily won the family team category. All of Bobby’s girls are on cross country teams. “All I had to do was finish!” Mr. Gessler modestly said.
Jason Tripp directed the Run Through the Grapevine. Staged on the first Sunday of November each year by the Howard County Striders, the race offers a good, old-fashioned cross country course with lots of mud, grass, roots, leaves, hills, and one or two nasty stream crossings. The deer stayed away this year. Jason spent two days before the race grooming the course by removing extraneous grapevine, roots, and mowing the grass (but not too close!). The Striders also wish to thank Anthony Aellen and his family for the use of their grapevines, fields and forest, and that nasty hill on the backside of the course.
by Jim Carbary
Randy McDermott may have won the 15th annual Run Through the Grapevine 8K, but he did something far more important after the race. In front of the audience at the awards ceremony, Randy proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Janet Gratton. Randy’s dog Oliver brought the engagement ring in a green bag and tangled the two with the leash. Janet accepted, the audience applauded, and the couple hugged blissfully. “That was better than winning,” Randy said.
In the actual race, McDermott took the lead in the hilly race near the three mile mark when he passed Strider racing team captain Carlos Renjifo. Carlos exhausted his energy holding the lead going up that ridiculously steep hill at 2.5 miles. “I didn’t know about the course,” Carlos confessed. Perhaps contemplating his proposal, McDermott went off course near the finish and prematurely ran 100 yards downhill. Renjifo and Paul Hannsen, in third place, followed him off course. All three had to run back uphill to regain the course, and so lost precious time. “Maybe 30 seconds,” Carlos reckoned. Nevertheless, they all broke 30 minutes.
Such drama and mis-navigation did not occur during the women’s race. Sherry Stick and Dianna Pool dueled for the women’s lead in the early going, but Stick took the lead for good after the big hill and went on win in 33:57, the only female to break 34 minutes. “This is definitely the hardest [cross country] course I’ve ever run,” said Stick, who was once a runner for Salisbury State.
The top master runner was Mark Hoon, who finished fourth. Mark earned a top-5 finish, so the official honor of first among the 40+ males went to Junior Strider coach Phil Lang, who is a cross country animal. The top female master was Pat Wilkerson in 37:49.
Although most runners commented on the very steep hills of the Grapevine’s course, they also had to contend with wild animals. A deer darted downhill across the course and knocked down Karen Mawdsley. “It just came plowing through,” she said. Luckily, the deer was a doe, not a buck. The event occurred around the three mile point just before the course went back into the woods. After the collision, Karen got up and finished without further incident.
The race not only featured 5-year age groups, but also a myriad of team competitions. There were two open male teams, two masters male teams, five open female teams, three masters female teams, eight coed teams, four master coed teams, and four family teams.
Stumbling, weaving, occasionally walking, some 524 runners completed the Run Through the Grapevine 8k, which takes place every autumn at the Linganore Winery in Mt. Airy. The Howard County Striders stage the race with the cooperation of Anthony Aellen, owner of the Winery. All finishers received a wine glass, and the award winners (at least those of the appropriate age) received gift certificates for wine, which they redeemed immediately after the awards ceremony.
Jason Tripp directed the race, with the assistance of various Howard County Striders at the finish line, registration table, and on the course. In particular, the Striders wish to thank Dave Tripp, who baked over 1000 cookies and a dozen (or so) loaves the traditional banana nut bread for the post-race refreshments.
by Jim Carbary