When you not only set a personal record, but also a course record, and also beat the captain of the racing team, you know you’ve had a good day. That’s just what Kent Werner did at the annual Penguin Pace 5k in Columbia, MD, last Sunday. Kent trains with Carlos Renjifo, captain of the Howard County Strider racing team and last year’s winner of the race, and the two even warmed up together before the race. Wanting to keep Carlos in sight, Kent took the early lead and envisioned his adversary eventually passing him. But Kent never saw Carlos at all. “I thought he was playing with me!” Kent said. But he maintained his lead through the first downhill mile, and then through the second moderately flat mile, and then extended his lead on the final, laborious uphill to the finish. “No, I was racing,” Carlos said. Kent wound up handily winning the race in 15:55, the first time anyone had ever broken 16 minutes on the very hilly Longfellow neighborhood course.
The same drama nearly repeated itself in the women’s race. National-class duathlete Marjan Huizing, also a past winner of the Penguin Pace and favorite to win this year, survived a serious challenge from local favorite Tasha Clearman. Tasha spotted Marjan the early lead, but closed to within a few seconds on the last two hills, causing the leader to look back over her shoudler. Huizing hung on to win in 19:54, while Clearman settled for second in 20:04. Tasha might have won except she had run 17 miles the day before. “I’ve never run a 5k before,” she said. “I think I’ll try another one some day.”
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman was on hand not only to help start the race, but also to participate in the event. He took so much heat last year from not running, that he decided “I’m running” this year.
The Penguin Pace sold out with 400 registrations during the week preceding the race. A total of 339 finished. Age group winners received the signature knit caps of the Penguin Pace, while the overall winners also received gift certificates from Feet First of Wilde Lake. All registered runners received a moisture-management long-sleeve t-shirt. After the race, runners gathered in the Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia for a sumptuous brunch catered by the Elkridge Furnace Inn (c. 1744).
Directed by Arleen Dinneen, the race is staged early every February by the Howard County Striders. The Striders wish to thank the Florence Bain Senior Center for hosting the post-race brunch, and the Howard County Police for supervising the traffic control.
by Jim Carbary