“I don’t like being hunted,” said Robyn Humphrey about winning the Women’s Distance Festival 5k last Sunday at the Columbia Mall. Although Humphrey led the race from start to finish, Patty Keating trailed her closely the entire way. Never more than 20 yards behind, Keating chased her through three full laps around the perimeter of the Columbia Mall and finished six seconds behind. “I need a few more weeks of speedwork,” said Keating, who hadn’t run a 5k race in a year.
“My husband told me I should do this race, and if I listen to him I usually do well.” Dorothy Beckett, age 46, enjoyed the distinction of winning the master’s championship (although both Humphrey and Keating are over 40). Given the number 1 bib, Dr. Beckett was really just trying to break 21 minutes (which she did), and found herself in a battle with 14-year-old Samantha Matthews. “Sam would surge ahead, and then I would,” said Dorothy, who eventually finished a few seconds behind Matthews (1st, 14 and U).
A stirring duel also developed between two of Howard County’s most promising young runners, Laura Walls and Nicole Shouse. Walls, a track champion at Glenelg County School, found herself trailing the younger Shouse with only half a mile to the finish, but then threw in a tremendous surge and outsprinted her competition by eight whole seconds. “She went by me ‘whoosh’,” explained Nicole who finished fourth to Walls’ third.
The WDF also featured mother-daughters team competitions. The fastest team by far was “The Fox and the Hound,” which consisted of Nicole Shouse (4th overall), her mother Karen (3rd, 35-39W), and her sister Alyssa (1st, 9 & U). Which was the fox and which the hound was unclear, but F & H easily won the “young” division (daughter 14 and U) of the mother-daughter team competition. In the “old” division (daugter 15 and U), the “Yews” (Calinda and Connie Yew) displaced “Bob’s Babes” (Lindsay and Nancy Burns) as the champions. The Babes had won the competition the last two years, but this time they fell all the way to 5th place ion their category. A total of 28 mother-daughter teams competed.
The race served as the graduation ceremony of the Females in Training (FIT). Under the coaching of seasoned Howard County Striderwomen, this group of women had trained since Spring to prepare themselves for the 5k race. Over 50 FIT women participated. The all-woman race drew a field of 350, making it the largest of many Women’s Distance Festival 5k’s featured throughout the summer. The WDF races began in 1979 to celebrate the beginning of the women’s marathon in the Olympics.
Tacy Feliciano and Pam West co-directed this year’s WDF in Columbia. They enjoyed the support of the Howard County Stridermen, who served as course marshals, at water stops, and at the finish line. The Striders wish to thank the Columbia Mall for use of its parking lot, and to the many Mall merchants who donated an abundance of random prizes. All women 14 and under received medallions, while age group winners received gift certificates from Feet First of Wilde Lake and/or commemorative lucite plaques.
by Jim Carbary