The 1998 Penguin Pace 5k may be the only sporting event named after the flightless bird that lives in Antarctica. The peculiar moniker originated with Barb Miller, of the Florence Bain Senior Center, who merely liked the name “penguin.” However, a column called “the Penguin Chronicles”, written by John Bingham for Runner’s World Magazine, had nothing to do with the race but did foster a nationwide group of “virtual training partners” who communicate by email. When Howard County Strider Jeannette Lamprey, herself a Peguin, found out about the Penguin Pace, she emailed all her penguin partners to do the race. Consequently, nearly 20 Penguins from New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia descended on Columbia to do the race last Sunday. The Penguins wore pink hats and t-shirts proclaiming their credo: “the miracle isn’t that I finished, but that I had the courage to start.” They all did finish the race and met each other for the first time.
Among the women, the Penguin Pace race itself figured to be a highly competitive field pitting former Strider runners-of-the-year Bea Marie Altieri and Robyn Humphrey against each other. But 1997 runner-of-the-year Kelly Barton, now sidelined with a foot injury, sent out word of the race to her hometown of Lancaster, PA, and nationally-regarded Connie Buckwalter made an appear at the `Pace. “She certainly didn’t run like a penguin,” commented Ms. Altieri who finished in second place behind Buckwalter, whose time of 18:07 was a new course record for women. “She was very, very, very, very fast,” said Bea Marie.
Columbia’s Anthony Basile dominated the men’s race, although he had company for the first mile and a half, through which he heard the footsteps of Jason Cox close behind. After that point, “it got quiet,” and Basile roared up the final hill to win going away in 16:39. Meanwhile, local favorites Stuart Pineo and Jim Kelly reeled in the fading Basile and finished second and third overall, with Pineo sprinting through the final tenth of a mile to beat Mr. Cox.
Take out the last hill,” commented one runner about the route of the Penguin Pace. The 5k (3.1 mile) foot race, which began at Florence Bain Senior Center, went downhill for a mile, then looped around for a mile, and then went back uphill for the last mile. A record field of 295 completed the Penguin Pace, which nearly reached the field limit of 350 registered.
The Penguin Pace served as a fund-raising race for the Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia, MD. The was was directed by Arleen Dineen, a long-time Strider who also directs the senior center itself. The first Penguin Pace took place in 1996, did not occur in 1997, and was on again in 1998. The Pace featured a fabulous post-race brunch catered by the Elkridge Furnace Inn. The brunch included muffins, croissants, fresh fruits, orange juice, coffee and tea, and the line of runners waiting for the brunch streched out the door and down the sidewalk in front of Senior Center. In addition, the post-race festivities included intermittant live entertainment by the Banjo Buddies, a four piece seniors band, and an appearance by Howard County Chief Executive Chuck Ecker, who is also running for Governor of Maryland. Indeed, Mr. Ecker actually started the race himself!
The race was run under the auspices of the Howard County Striders, an RRCA affiliate, and enjoyed the support of the Howard County Police and Police Cadets, and students from Wilde Lake High School. No fewer than a dozen sponsors supported the event including Target, Comcast, Horizon Rehabilitation, Feet First of Wilde Lake, the Lazarus Foundation for old computers, the Medincine Shoppe Pharmacy. Deerfield Senior Centers, the Howard County General Hospital, Hilton Flower Shop, Colosseum Gym and Fitness, and the Florence Bain Senior Center itself. Most of the sponsors set up information booths inside the Center for runners to browse before and after the race.
by James Carbary