Ethiopian Yihunish Delelecha, the first woman to finish this year’s Columbia Women’s Distance Festival 5k, spoke no English, but she did speak the language of speed. Within the first mile, which were mostly downhill or flat, she pulled ahead of fellow Ethiopian Almaz Megersa and NCAA Division III cross country champion Esther Erb, and had opened a lead of about 20 yards on them by the half way mark. Delelecha cruised through the remaining distance, and left Megersa and Erb in a very tight battle for second place. Megersa literally out-leaned Erb at the finish, taking second place by less than 0.3 second, or about as fast as finish line scorers could click the timer. “She was just hungrier than me,” said Esther, who resides in Vienna, Austria. Both Delelecha and Megersa have become well-known on the DC running scene this spring, and winner Delelcha owns a 2:46 marathon time.
Robyn Humphrey claimed the top spot for a local Howard Countian, placing first among the 45-49 women (20:05), but falling far short (about a minute) of winning the overall master’s title, which went to Baltimore’s Denise Knickman. Pat Wilkerson (20:51) retained some measure of glory for Howard County by winning the grandmaster award.
The WDF also featured 19 mother-daughter teams divided into young-daughter (12 and under) and old-daughter (over-12) groups. Peculiarly, the top mother-daughter teams in each division tied for total number of points, so we’ll have to wait until next year for real closure on the team issue.
The top three women won cash awards — a sure way to bring those DC speedsters out to Columbia. Age group winners earned plaques, and all girls 12 and under received medals. All participants got custom-designed tank-tops, too. The race drew a field of 332, making it the largest all-woman sporting event in Howard County.
The race was directed by Tacy Feliciano and Dorothy Beckett, who enjoyed the assistance of the Howard County Stridermen on the course and at the finish line. “We couldn’t have done it without their support,” Dorothy said. The race directors also wish to thank the Howard County Police and the Howard Community College, which provided a venue for the event. The race directors also want to thank the Howard County General Hospital, as well as other sponsors, for their generous support.
by Jim Carbary