Cool temperatures produced sizzling times at the Howard County General Hospital’s Women’s Distance Festival 5k race last Friday night. It was appropriate that the 3.1 mile race around Columbia Mall started at Midnight as surely many of the 438 runners must have thought they were dreaming. The exact opposite of last year, the 2000 edition featured unusually cool weather and new, fast (Phish-free) course. “It was the nicest weather of any race this summer,” remarked winner Connie Buckwalter. Buckwalter, a PA resident and frequent visitor to the Baltimore racing scene, jumped to an early lead and never let it go. Local favorite, Vicki Lang, was elated over her 2nd place finish in a time of 18:22 as it was the fastest 5k time she’d run in 5 years! She attributed her stellar performance to “perfect weather and good competition”. Michelle Smith, who duked it out with Vicki for 2nd place last year, was 3rd in a time of 18:32, her fastest 5k time on the roads ever! Michelle, who runs for James Madison University, declined her finisher’s prize in order to retain her NCAA eligibility. She did, however, get to share this special evening with her mom, Gloria Smith, by running as part of a mother-daughter team, another great feature of this unique event. The team competition was won by “Archcats”, which was comprised on Nancy Catizone and Keesha Archard.
The WDF enjoyed a new title sponsor this year in Howard County General Hospital. Paul M. Gleichauf of HCGH, said the hospital was very pleased to sponsor the race because, “It’s about people being fit,” and is in keeping with a large part of their overall mission which is caring for the community and keeping it healthy. Other contributors to the race included Moving Comfort and Feet First. Runners enjoyed post-race refreshments provided by Einstein Bros. Bagels, Honest Tea, Stonyfield Farms Yogurt and Product Galore.
Race Director Kelly Barton put on another outstanding event and was assisted this year by assistant race director, Judith Gilbert. Of course, none of this would be possible without the invaluable assistance of the Columbia Mall, the Howard County Police and an army of Strider (& other) volunteers. Heading the volunteer group was Judith Colon, who was assisted by Ron Weber (race night registration), Jim Discuillo (results) Ralph Massella (water), Kathleen Lefkowitz (packet pickup), Bob Burns, Miles Weigold, and Dave and Jason Tripp (finish line), Ray Lake (course measurement) and Mick Slonaker(traffic).