For the second year in a row, the Howard County Striders won the Road Runner’s Club of America 10 Mile Challenge, overpowering eight other RRCA running clubs from the Baltimore-Washington area. In the previous year, the home-town Striders had relied on their older, “more mature” runners and had barely won the Challenge, but this year younger legs handily carried the team to victory. Indeed, only five of the top 16 Striders who scored were over 40. “It’s about time the kids began to assert themselves,” veteran Strider Vicki Lang commented about the youth movement.
The overall winner, Izudin “Izzy” Mehmedovic, illustrated her point. The 20-year-old from UMBC and graduate of Oakland Mills High School had run only one other 10 mile race— the 2002 Challenge Race that the Striders lost. On Sunday, he cranked through the initial mile in 5:17 and then proceeded to leave the rest of the field in the dust. He finished with a 53:20 personal record. Young legs indeed! Izzy had run a 4:09 split at the American East Conference Championship in Boston on Friday night before, then drove home to run a 4:08 mile at a meet in Towson (plus a 1:55 800 meter on a relay), and didn’t get to bed until 12:30 am Sunday morning. Izzy had run a 4:09 split in the Distance Medley Relay at the American East Conference Championship in Boston on Friday night before winning the open mile in 4:08 on Saturday. He also placed 2nd in the 1000 and anchored the 4×800 Relay team on Saturday before driving home with the team (UMBC). “It was hillier than I remembered,” he said about the race.
Anchored by Medmedovic, the Striders placed nine men among the top 20, including duathlete Doug Mock, who out-duelled Craig Morrell from Falls Road Running for second place. The most valiant contribution to the team may have come from Strider Hall of Famer Dave Berardi, who had to pause at 6 miles to vomit. But he came roaring back to chase down the top master runners of Falls Road— Neville Anderson and Pete Searson. “I didn’t have a hang-over either,” Dave said.
In winning the women’s team championship, Striderwomen accounted for four of the top 10 women, including third-place Carrie Selmer, another 20-year-old, as well as veterans Julie Thienel and Robyn Humphrey, who had each earned Runner-of-the-Year honors. Like Izzy, Carrie set a personal record at the 10 mile distance (1:04:49).
Carrie knew well the two women who beat her— Jill Krebs and Diana Pool, who ran with the Westminster Road Runners. The three had met at Western Maryland College in Westminster and still train together. Carrie is taking a semester of from school, Winthrop University, and while she is home she is training with Jill and Diana who were teammates at Western Maryland College in Westminster. Jill herself set a personal record, breaking the mystical one-hour barrier for the first time ever (59:49). She found the course “deceivingly hilly,” but, being accustomed to the environs of Westminster, had little trouble overcoming them.
A total of 328 completed the 10 Mile Challenge. Teams from eight local running clubs competed in Men’s, Women’s, and Overall (Men plus Women) championships. The top 12 men and the top 4 women directly scored for each team, with other club runners serving as “displacers.” The team with the lowest scores won. The Striders won all three championships. Strider President Phil Lang, who has recently become the RRCA Maryland State Representative, accepted the team trophy (“the ugliest trophy in the world”) at a brief ceremony after the race. The top male and female winners received trophies, and all other finishers received the signature “challenge gloves.” There were no other awards, although everyone had bagels, donuts, and Gatorade after the race and could take a shower at the Junior College.
The RRCA 10 Mile Championship is hosted each winter by the Howard County Striders. Richard Bernstein directed the race. Dozens of Howard County Striders served along the course as marshals, at water stops, and at the finish line. The Striders made a point of marking the course and measuring it using the latest global positioning technology, although the nine-mile marker may have been off a little. The Striders wish to thank the Howard County Police for directing traffic at key intersections; they also wish to thank Steve Musselman and the Howard Community College, which served as the host venue for the race.
by Jim Carbary