Last Sunday, nearly three hundred runners, including about 40 penguins, participated in the Third Annual Penguin Pace 5k in Columbia, MD. Wearing pink caps of the “Penguin Brigade”, the penguins are the faithful of John Bingham’s Penguin Chronicles articles in Runner’s World. [Their motto is: “The miracle is not that I finished but that I had the courage to start.”] Corresponding by email, the penguins assembled a large contingent, members of which came from as far away as Tennessee. Chief penguin John Bingham himself ran in the race with his son Terry, who outsprinted him at the finish. “I want to complement the race organizers- on the food,” he said. “When you’re as slow as me, there usually isn’t this much food left!” At least one penguin didn’t waddle through the race: Cathy Renkiewicz of Burke, VA, placed third among all women (second master) in 21:53. When local penguin and Howard County Strider Jeannette Lampron sent out email announcements of the race, penguins from all over the country responded by raising of $400 for the Florence Bain Senior Center, the race’s charity.
In the real race, former Centennial High School runner Jeff Olenick broke away from a lead pack of four runners near the mile mark at the bottom of the first hill. He went on to win the race easily in 16:11, a new course record. The steep hills of the penguin course didn’t seem to bother Olenick, who now runs for Goucher College. “None of the courses I run are flat!” he said. As a measure of Mr. Olenick’s pace, he beat second-place Tony Basile, who won the race the previous year, by 30 seconds.
Westmister Road Runner Jenny Caple won the women’s race in 20:51, and she also had little trouble with her competition, although she didn’t expect the hills. Training for the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, Ms. Caple ran the Penguin Pace 5k because she wanted to do some speedwork. She returned to Westminster to run a longer race with the Road Runners in the afternoon.
Arleen Dinneen directed the race for the third time. Howard County Striders provided course volunteers, finish line management, and race results; and Howard County Executive Jim Robey was on hand to officially start the race at 8:00 am. Post race refreshments were catered by Elkridge Furnace Inn, which provided an elegant brunch including pastries, fresh fruit, mixed vegetables, coffee and orange juice; the food was liberally replenished as runners consumed it. Random prizes, selected by computer, were donated by Amore’s Deli, Brunswick Lanes, the Crab Shanty, Eyre Travel, the Columbia Hilton, Raimondi’s, Shear Magic, Toby’s Dinner Theatre, the Walters Art Gallery, and Runner’s World. Principal sponsors included Howard County General Hospital, Feet First of Wilde Lake, PowerBar, Target, and the Lazarus Foundation. The race benefitted the Florence Bain Senior Center, which also hosted the post-race brunch. Winners received handsome blue knit caps with “Penguin Pace 1999” in gold letters.
by James Carbary