Two Virginians vied for the title of fastest fowl in Sunday’s hilly Penguin Pace 5k (3.1 miles) in Harper’s Choice. Ted Poulos of McLean, VA, who ran 100 races in 2000, outlasted Tim Renkiewicz of Burke, VA, who had ran a high school indoor meet the Saturday before the race. “I had a great first half,” Ted remarked about the first downhill mile in the race. He pulled away from the lead pack at the bottom of the first big hill, and Renkiewicz, who can run a flat mile in under 5 minutes, did his best to hold the pace. But the master of 100 races took a substantial lead going back up the same long hill and went on to win in 17:13- a time about 30 seconds slower than usual.
The women’s race featured the 1998 winner Connie Buckwalter of Lancaster, PA, and Rockville’s Marjan Huizing, who won the race in 2000. Ms. Buckwalter took off from the start and never let up, beating Huizing by the substantial margin of 17 seconds. “I didn’t know the competition,” commented the winner, who ran the 3.1 miles with a heart rate monitor so she could maintain her level of effort. “My heart rate went up slightly on the hill,” she said.
The Penguin Pace began and ended at the Florence Bain Senior Center in Harper’s Choice, winding down and then back up the steep hills of the Longfellow community next door. The event takes its inspiration from John Bingham’s “Penguin Chronicles,” a regular feature in Runners’ World magazine. Penguin affectionadoes have made the race their own, and penguins reportedly came from as far away as Vermont, Connecticutt, and California to run the race this year. Bingham himself was not available- he was in Antarctica running a real Penguin chase!
The field included one Vivian Bailey, born in February 1918, who celebrated her 83rd birthday at the Penguin Pace. Wearing race number 83, she received a special recognition award, and afterwards participants sang “Happy Birthday” to her. Ms. Bailey works out weekly at the senior center. Although intending to do the Penguin Pace next year, she commented “I don’t think I’ll become a runner.”
With the assistance of the Howard County Striders, Arleen Dinneen directed the race, which was the fifth Penguin Pace. The Howard County Police provided traffic control. Howard County Executive Jim Robey was on hand to start the race at 8 am. The Howard County Office of Aging provided organization and volunteers.
Nearly 300 registered for the race and 267 finished. Participants received a special Penguin Pace long-sleeved t-shirt, specially designed by artist Dan Herrick, and age-group winners received Penguin Pace knit caps. Participants and volunteers gathered in the Senior Center after the race for a lavish catered brunch by the Elkridge Furnace Inn (“since 1744”). The Banjo Buddies provided live entertainment while everyone chowed down on literal cornicopias of fresh fruit, vegetables, muffins and croissants, and assorted Dairy Maid juices.