“Those Westminster girls always win,” Howard County’s Tasha Hogan (5th F) said about the women who crushed their opposition at the 16th Annual Run Through the Grapevine 8k at Linganore Winecellars last Sunday. The team of Jill Krebs (1st F), Sherry Stick (2nd F), Diana Poole (3rd F) seized control from the start of the race and ran together as a pack for the first 1½ miles, where Jill began to “push the pace.” Jill and Sherry pulled away on “that horrible hill” on the backside of the course at 2½ miles, and Jill was running in front by the time they reached the pond around 4 miles. Sherry still had a shot at winning as the two entered the last row of grapevines, but Jill held her off and won in 33:47. “I was just trying to stay on my feet,” Jill remarked. “Well, she took every turn at a suicidal speed,” Diana commented. Their winning all-woman team, the Baltimore-Washington Athletic Club, also included Kelly Gruber, Joan Namasinga, and Blayke Hall. Formed of runners local to Carroll County, the team has never lost the team competition at Grapevine.
In spite of a muddy, rain-slicked course, the top four or five men in the race zipped through the first mile in around 5:20. They had gone through two rows of grapevines at that point. The field had dispersed somewhat after they circled through the back part of the course and climbed the steep muddy hill that confounded everyone. When he reached the pond around four miles Joe Weigner was nearly 30 seconds ahead of Stephen Moxley, a past winner of the race. “He didn’t seem pressed at all,” eyewitness Dave Berardi said about Mr. Weigner, who went on to win the men’s race in 28:34.
Among the top five men were Montgomery County’s Mark Hoon and Howard County’s Mike Colaiacovo, both of whom were masters running with the lead pack (for a while). Mike had just turned 40 over the summer and managed to fend of Mark as the fastest master runner in the race. With a time of 29:59, Mike finished fourth overall and missed third place overall by only seven seconds. He was the last runner to finish the race under 30 minutes.
The top master female was Jane Wikman of Germantown, who finished in 38:42. But grandmaster Pat Wilkerson was less than 30 seconds behind. “And I helped with the baking, too,” Pat said about her role in assembling the vast store of nut breads available at the post-race celebration.
Like any true cross country race, Run Through the Grapevine had team competitions. The top women’s team has already been mentioned. The top men’s team from Montgomery County (which included third place Andrew Sovolnick and fifth place Mark Hoon) easily won their category because they were the only team in the category! Among the other teams, the most noteworthy may have been The Gessler Whinery, consisting of Bobby Gessler and his four daughters, Katies, Julie, Amy and Becky, who easily won the family team category. All of Bobby’s girls are on cross country teams. “All I had to do was finish!” Mr. Gessler modestly said.
Jason Tripp directed the Run Through the Grapevine. Staged on the first Sunday of November each year by the Howard County Striders, the race offers a good, old-fashioned cross country course with lots of mud, grass, roots, leaves, hills, and one or two nasty stream crossings. The deer stayed away this year. Jason spent two days before the race grooming the course by removing extraneous grapevine, roots, and mowing the grass (but not too close!). The Striders also wish to thank Anthony Aellen and his family for the use of their grapevines, fields and forest, and that nasty hill on the backside of the course.
by Jim Carbary