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Women’s Distance Festival 5K

With a 5:20 first mile, Teyba Naser of Washington, DC, quickly dispatched her rivals at the Women’s Distance Festival 5k in Columbia last Sunday. “I was hoping she would fall back, but she never did,” said Jen Ecker, who finished third in the race. “She went off into the distance on the backside of the course,” Ms. Ecker said poetically about watching Naser cruise away near the half-way point in the 3.1-mile loop around Hickory Ridge. Naser owns a 15:45 personal record in the 5k event and said, through an interpreter, “I am just looking for a 5k or 10k race each weekend.” This weekend was Columbia. The heat and the hills of the course “made a little difference, but not much” Teyba continued.

Two of the fastest women in Howard County had a much closer contest for the master woman championship. After 2½ miles, with the finish line almost in sight, Robyn Humphrey held a slight advantage over Vanessa Cox. But Humphrey lost time going around the wrong side of a cone at the last turn, and Cox took advantage of the mistake. “I told myself I had better get my butt moving,” Vanessa recalled. “Then I pounced.” The pounce worked, and Cox pulled away from Humphrey to claim the over-40 title in 19:33, only six seconds ahead of her rival, who admittedly has not fully recovered from a recent ankle injury. The two women finished fifth and sixth overall in a field of 300.

The WDF featured mother-daughter team competition. The “Lactic Legs” team of Karen and Alyssa Shouse handily won the competition for teams daughters 12-and-under. They started running together, but the heat slowed down young Alyssa who had beaten her mother the year before. “I told her one of us has to go [faster]” Karen said. “Besides, I had a few people I had to pick off.” The team of Gloria Roberts and Sandra Griffin took the team victory for daughters over-12. They achieved their win by Gloria placing first among the 10-19 females and Sandra second in the 40-44 age group. Not to be outdone, Theresa McFadden of the second place team of “Remus’ Runners” did a cartwheel in accepting the team award. No word on whether her daughter Brittany Rooks was embarrassed. A total of 20 mother-daughter teams.

The race also served as the graduation event for 50 or so Females in Training, who specifically trained throughout the Spring in a Howard County Strider program to prepare to run a 5k. Each FIT woman wore an orange t-shirt with a black ribbon to commemorate her graduation. Many of these women came out to train in spite of heavy family commitments. “It was a very empowering sort of thing,” one woman commented.

Staged every summer by the Howard County Striders, the all-woman race was directed by Tacy Feliciano and Dorothy Beckett. Age group and team winners received gift certificates from Feet First of Wilde Lake and lucite plaques. The master and grandmaster women received gift certificates from Absolutely Wine and Spirits. After the race, finishers gathered in the air conditioned gymnasium of the Howard Community College for refreshments and awards.

The Howard County Striders wish to thank the Howard County Police for traffic control, Steve Musselman and the Howard Community College for use of its gymnasium and parking lot, and the Howard County General Hospital for a generous donation. The Columbia WDF represents one of many Women’s Distance Festivals held throughout the nation in the summer time to celebrate women’s running.

by Jim Carbary