On the afternoon before the 2002 Women’s Distance Festival, Kerrie Bowes had felt good about her chances of winning the 5k midnight run, as she had done the year before. But when race time came, she saw Naoko Ishibe warming up, and Kerrie knew she’d be racing for second place. True to form, Ishibe sprinted to an early lead and ran to an uncontested victory in 17:06, over 1:30 ahead of second place. She ran so fast that Mike Styckzynski on the lead bike had trouble staying in front of her. (“She almost caught me on the inclines,” Mike said, although the two-and-a-half loop course around the Columbia Mall was relatively flat.)
In Ishibe’s wake, Kerrie Bowes did have a race against Margaret Polacawich, who knew Kerrie from last year’s Police Pace 5k. The two ran close together for the first loop. But when they began lapping the slower women in the field, Polacawich lost her opponent, and Bowes swept on to claim second place in 18:42. As a measure of Ishibe’s dominance, Kerrie’s time ran 31 seconds faster than her winning time in 2001, and she did not even finish within sight of the winner. “For a parking lot, it’s a good time,” said Polacawich, who took third in 19:09.
Ishibe, a Silver Spring resident, might have run even faster had she had some competition other than the bicycle. She had won the women’s race at Damien’s 5k Run for Recovery the Sunday before the WDF in 16:54, when she again beat Kerrie Bowes by a large margin.
The race also featured mother-daughter team competitions in two age groups: mothers with daughters under 15 and mothers with daughters 15 and up. For the second year in a row, Bob’s Babes (Lindsay and Nancy Burns) won the older group on the strength of steady performances by both mother and daughter, although they only beat their arch-rival team The Spunky Monkeys (Libby and Lissa George) by a single point. “We pulled through in the end,” commented an embullant Lindsay. In the younger age group, Team Oaxaca (Andrea and Maria Oaxaca) bested such teams as Maple Syrup and Hot Pepper and the Tortoise and the Harrier. A total of 19 mother-daughter teams participated in the race.
A significant number of women exploited the flatness of the double-loop course and the cool summer night to set personal records for the 5k (3.1-mile) distance. Howard County Junior Striders Nicole (3rd, 11-14 yr) and Alyssa Shouse (2nd, 10 and U), and Caitlin Fox (1st, 10 and U) ran PRs. Sue Ellen Morakinyo set a 5k personal record by over 30 seconds and even finished third in her age group (35-39 years). “She needs to run faster,” said her husband, Tunde, of the accomplishment. With the support of dozens of Howard County Strider men, Mikie Nard and Carrie Perfetto directed the Women’s Distance Festival, which is one in a series of Road Runners Club of America all-women races held throughout the nation to commemorate women’s running. The local WDF enjoyed the support of the Howard County General Hospital and That’s Amore, the latter of which donated pasta salad for the post race celebration.
The Howard County Women’s Distance Festival 5k is the largest of its kind in Maryland. Age group and team winners received bouquets of flowers as well as commemorative cut-glass cups.
by Jim Carbary