The way that Vicki Lang and Julie Thienel charged ahead of the pack at the 2003 Women’s Distance Festival 5k made onlookers think the two would battle right down into the final quarter mile of the race. Midway through the first lap around the Columbia Mall, they had gotten a substantial lead the over 200 other women, with Thienel tight on the shoulder of Lang, the former Howard County Woman Runner of the Year. But early in the second lap, Julie’s hamstring tightened up and she not only slackened her pace, she actually dropped out. “I knew she was there and then she wasn’t,” said Vicki. “I didn’t know what happened.” From that point, Lang cruised unthreatened to victory in 18:29.
The race among master women came down to a match between the two “Pats” of Howard County- Patricia Keating and Patricia Wilkerson. Both broke 20 minutes, but Mrs. Keating won the contest by 30 seconds. The two friends have raced against each other many times in the past and often train together on the hills of Howard County.
Other stand-out performances included those of 39-year-old Robyn Humphrey (“I’m on the track for 40”), who finished third overall in 19:18, and 12-year-old Nicole Shouse, who placed seventh overall in 20:37. “I was just trying to keep the leaders in sight,” explained Nicole. Sue Ellen Morakinyo made a valiant effort to beat Nicole’s mother Karen, and she did manage to stay ahead of Karen for at least one full lap. Then Karen “turned it up,” passed, and went on to place second among the 35-39 women with a 22:21 personal record. “Karen doesn’t know how fast she can run,” said Sue Ellen, who came within eight seconds of her own personal record.
The WDF also featured competitions between mother-daughter teams and “corporate teams,” which consisted of whole families of mothers and daughters. The “Blackberry Bunnies” (Tiffany and Vicki Lang) outraced “Hot Pepper and Maple Syrup” (Sue Ellen and Yinka Morakinyo) to win the Mother and 14-and-Under Daughter group, while “1Fish-2Fish” (Eileen and Laurie Fisher) tied “Bob’s Babes” (Lindsay and Nancy Burns) for the Mother and 15-and-Over Daughter group. The Fish, however, were awarded the first place award on a tie-breaker (oldest combined age), thus denying the Babes the championship they had often won in the past. Dressed in red, white, and blue, “Stars and Stripes” (Nicole, Karen, Alyssa, and Chelsea Shouse) over-matched “Half-fast” (Shelly and Amy Kvech and their mother Arleen) to win the corporate division.
Because of construction and late-night traffic, the Women’s Distance Festival 5k in Columbia moved from “Midnight at the Mall” to “Sunrise at the Mall.” This year the race started at 7 am rather than midnight, but otherwise used the same course and finish line.
For the third consecutive year, Carrie Perfetto and Mikie Nard directed Howard County’s Women’s Distance Festival, which is part of a series of all-women WDF races held throughout the nation during the summer. A total of 224 completed the all-women race. There were 15 teams. The race served as a culmination event for dozens of women who trained during the Spring with the Females In Training (FIT) program put on by the Howard County Striders.
Overall winners received gift certificates from Feet First of Wilde Lake, while age group and team winners received commemorative plaques. Kids 10 and under also received medallions. The race is staged every year by the Howard County Striders, who wish to thank the Columbia Mall for allowing the use of its perimeter parking areas for the race.
by Jim Carbary