This year the Run Through the Grapevine mysteriously fell on Halloween, and the race featured not only the usual competition but also a competition for the best costume. The catch was that you had to run the entire 8 km (5 miles) cross country course in your costume. Costumed runners who completed the insanely hilly, tortuous course at the Linganore Winery in Frederick County included the 101 Dalmations (only two showed up), Playboy bunnies, the cheerleader, the M&Ms, and the Grim Reaper himself, who also proved to be the fleetest of the costumes. The most original costume was judged to be the Windblown Man- apt for the breezy morning conditions. However, the Stepford Wives, apparently running with Stepford Husbands, won the overall costume contest, although they faced strong competition from Jungle Jim and Jane (2nd costume) as well as the Great Pumpkin (3rd). In the real cross country race, Rick Roundtree took command of the field on the second downhill a half mile after the start and was never seriously threatened. A previous winner of the Grapevine race, Rountree admitted he was moving pretty well and was in good shape. His only problem was the persistent breeze, which held him to a time of “only” 28:43- over 40 seconds ahead of second-place Larry O’Hara. Rick may have been taking it easy, too, because he even had time to notice unharvested grapes still on the vines. “I thought about eating them if I got low on blood sugar,” he joked.
For Jill Krebs, the first place woman, the race was a college reunion. She and her friends from Western Maryland College (Westminster, MD) formed a team that swept the first four places of the women’s race. “We had heard about the hills,” Jill said, who had not encountered such steep, treacherous hills during her years as a collegiate runner. “They were ridiculous!” After the worst hill at 2 1/2 miles, Jill took the lead from her team-mate Amy Pyles and then cruised to the women’s victory in 32:28.
Howard County Strider and Saturday morning bagel runner Dan Laukzemis won the 40-44 age group (33:56) but finished six seconds behind Dave Bollinger (1st, 45-49 men) in the overall masters competition. “I got beat by Darth Maul, too,” said Laukzemis, who complained that Darth’s cape would catch on the grapevines and cause them to snap back in his face.
After a long string of master’s triumphs, Robyn Humphrey succumbed to Kelly Dworak of Carlisle, PA, for the women’s master’s competition. “I hope I run as hard at next week’s road 10k as I did today in this cross country race,” Robyn said.
Like all good cross country races, the Run Through the Grapevine offered team competition, with the top four on six-person teams scoring. A thrilling competition developed between Howard County’s “Coaches Still Doing It” and “Falls Road Running Men.” Roundtree claimed the top spot on the latter, but Howard County’s Jaron Hawkins and Dennis Mickey (a previous winner) team with Howard County Coaches Phil Lang and Trey Cassidy to cement the overall team victory for the ‘Coaches by a margin of a mere three points. The women from Western Maryland College, Team CMAC, clobbered the women’s team competition. The “Old Dogs A” from Montgomery County beat the “Old Dogs B” in the men’s masters teams, while “Sour Grapes” won its fourth consecutive women’s masters team competition, largely because the Grapes were the only team in that age-gender group. (“Is there a fix?” some in the audience questioned.) The principle competition among teams appeared in the open coed division, which had no fewer than 12 teams. The Maryland Track Club Coed easily outlasted the second place “Track Junkies” to win the Open Coed division. Finally,”Aged to Perfection” pummeled “Stepford Wives” in the Masters Coed division, although the latter team had the satisfaction of winning the costume division.
A field of 484 completed the Run Through the Grapevine, which is held entirely within the confines of the Linganore Wineberry Winery in Mt. Airy, MD. All finishers received wine glasses, and age-group winners won gift certificates for wine. Wine tasting immediately followed the race, and runners selected their vintages during and after the awards ceremony. Gerry Clapper and Mark Gilmore co-directed the race, which is in its 11th year. The race is staged by the Howard County Striders, who wish to thank Anthony Aellen for the generous use of his grapevines and surrounding fields. True to form, the race directors tweaked the course once again this year, making it even more difficult. “I don’t know how they do it,” said Dickie George of Aged to Perfection, “but they always seem to find another hill.”
by Jim Carbary