The Mongomery County Road Runners made a concerted effort to beat the Howard County Striders and win this year’s 10 Mile Challenge, a road race in which competed the local chapters of the Road Runners Club of America. To that end, the Mongomerians held special winter track workouts for their runners to build “depth up front.” Montgomery County’s Steve Smith explained, “We knew Howard County would have their ‘stud-runners’ up front,so we had to improve our ‘B-team’,” which would simply outnumber the Howard Countians. In the actual event, held last Sunday on the hilly streets of Clary’s Forest, the strategy almost worked.
As expected, the core of Howard County’s men’s and women’s racing teams dominated the top positions. Columbia’s Mark Gilmore out-kicked Montgomery’s Rob Magin and won the overall race in 52:55, and Strider men took three of the top five places; while among the women, Howard County’s Vanessa Cox placed second to Marine Corps Marathon winner Donna Moore, and Strider women took three of the top five places among their gender and handily won the women’s championship. But after these speedsters came a flood of Montgomery County “depth” runners that seemingly tipped the score in favor of their team. The first compilation of the points from seven clubs (based on scoring the top 14 men and 3 women from each) had Mongomery County winning the overall team race, and at the post-race ceremony Montgomery County actually received the championship prize, an engraved pewter plate. However, Phil Anderson of the Renaissance All-Sports Athletic Club explained to race scorers that he had actually dropped out of the race, which altered the scoring qualifications to the top 13 men and 3 women on each team. This displacement still left Montgomery County with the men’s championship, but gave the overall championship to Howard County by a margin of only three points.
Although the fiercest competition was between the Howard and Montgomery teams, five other local running clubs participated in the 10-Mile Challenge, which the Howard County Striders host every February. The entire field numbered 360 runners, the largest contingent of which came from Montgomery County. This year a conflict with a swim meet at the Howard Community College caused a change of the race venue, with the course beginning at the Florence Bain Senior Center and ending at Swansfield Elementary School. Nevertheless, runners had to negotiate many of the same Clary’s Forest hills for which the race is famous. “Survive the hills” was how Baltimore’s Dave Brendle (5th overall) entitled the race. Paul Goldenberg directed the Challenge race with the help of the Howard County Police and an outstanding volunteer crew that roused themselves on a damp, foggy morning to cone and marshall the course. The Striders especially wish to thank the Florence Bain Senior Center, which provided facilities for pre-race registration and post-race ceremonies.
by Jim Carbary