Although they brought only sixteen runners to the RRCA Challenge 10-Mile race, the Falls Road Running Store made every one count and upset the defending champions from the Montgomery County Road Runners. Craig Morrell lead the charge for the ‘Store by finishing second overall in 55:59, although he could have easily wound up fourth because of a tight race against Howard County’s Dave Berardi and Montgomery County’s Rob Magin and Joe Abernethy. When the dust settled, the Running Store stood second among the seven men’s teams, only a few points behind Montgomery County. The Store spectacularly captured first among the women’s teams, an effort that put their team over the top. Melissa Rittenhouse and Denise Knickman finished first and second among the women and knocked out strong teams from Montgomery County and Howard County. Interestingly, the top three women from the latter club- Vanessa Cox (4th W), Pat Wilkerson (6th W), and Lisa Coleman (7th W) – are all masters and generated a team score only a few points behind that of the Store.
But there was no doubt at any time about the winner. Glen Mays of the DC Road Runners easily pulled away from the field at five miles and finished over a minute ahead of Mr. Morrell. “I ‘m a good downhill runner,” he commented about the numerous hills that runners negotiated on the tough course through the Columbia neighborhood of Clary’s Forest. “I hope all our fast guys get healthy [for next year]” lamented Mick Slonaker, president of the Howard County Striders, who hosted the annual RRCA 10-Mile Challenge. Indeed, Howard County’s Trey Cassidy, who placed fourth on his team and 25th overall with a sub-60 time, was ill from a bad cold and had to drop out of a training run several days before the Challenge. The Striders have often won the Challenge race in past years, but managed to finish only fourth overall in the team competition this year. “Wait till Cherry Blossom,” groused one Howard Countian about the next team race.
Jim Adams, himself an RRCA representative, assembled the Falls Road Running Store team, which has the official name of “the Baltimore Runner’s Coalition.”
The 23rd Annual RRCA 10 Mile Challenge took place under such balmy conditions that few runners noticed that it was February 24th. Many ran in t-shirts and shorts, and those who ran in tights were simply too hot! The water stops were busy. Perhaps because of the fine weather, the Challenge race drew a record field of 422 registered.
The Howard County Striders put on the race, which began and ended at the Howard Community College. Ken Dent directed the Challenge, with traffic control by the Howard County police, and support from dozens of Howard County Striders along the course. Dick George and Dave Tripp ran the finish line, and Jim DiScuillo and others completed the results before many had showered. Each finisher received a pair of painter’s gloves and their choice of bagels, apples, bananas, and donuts. The donuts proved especially popular; runners consumed all 25 dozen. The first place man and woman earned awards; otherwise only team awards were given out. At the awards ceremony, Delegate Elizabeth Bobo presented the Howard Counrty Striders with a proclamation from the Maryland House of Delegates, which was about the Striders’ only glory that morning!
by Jim Carbary