14 November 2010
“The leader was some guy in a blue shirt,” Karsten Brown observed about the first several miles of the Metric Marathon (26.3 km). Karsten and racing team mates Jason Tripp and Peter Keating all held back while the blue-shirted harrier expended himself in the initial going. But Brown and Keating passed him when they reached the hills of Ellicott City around eight miles. Karsten knew he had the race won when Keating almost veered off course when they entered the bike paths in Long Reach village. “I had to wait for Jason,” Mr. Keating lamented, “although Karsten would have beaten me anyway.” Brown continued hammering and won in 1:35:21. “I never take a day off,” he said. He had run a 50 km (31 mile) race the day before the Metric Marathon, which he regarded as “speedwork.” “I didn’t run as hard [in the 50k]”, he said. Brown said he expects to run a 50 miler next week!
Ellicott City resident Kara Waters handled the women’s competition with ease, although she too had some trouble staying on course in the twisty bike paths of Long Reach. “The guy behind me kept telling me which way to turn,” she said. After finishing (1:46:20), she admitted the Metric was a hilly, difficult course. “It’s best that I didn’t review the course beforehand.” Her four (!) daughters greeted her at the finish line. “She’s stinky!” Lila noted. Like the men’s winner, Waters is no stranger to long distance racing. In the weeks before the Metric Marathon, she finished the Baltimore Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. Maybe she’ll take a break now.
A veritable new-comer to racing, Donna Wecker amazingly finished third among the women (1:55:42). She had never run 16 miles before except in a training run the week before, and Clyde’s 10k in the Spring was the first 6.2 mile race she had ever run. “I never got into the lead,” Donna said, “but I was in second for a brief time when the other woman went off course.”
The Metric course was marked in red and black arrows, and a biker did lead the race, but the top runners lost him on the bike paths. Understandably, they might have been a little rusty at navigating the Metric route because the race had not been run since 2007. Snow and ice had forced cancellation of the event in 2008 and 2009. Anyone who registered for the race in those two years got a free entry this year, any many took advantage of the offer. The race was moved up a month from December to November to prevent a third catastrophe. The weather cooperated this time. It was sunny and pleasant, and the race sold out for the first time in its 34-year history.
The Metric 5k was also staged for runners who couldn’t spare two or more hours to run the Metric Marathon. In the shorter race, Harry Colby and Gary Smolyak clobbered the men’s field (18:08 and 18:10, respectively). Leading from the start, they talked to each other during the competition. In the women’s 5k, 46-year-old Robyn Humphrey beat 17-year-old Julie Gessler, but they had quite a battle. After finishing (19:18), Robyn left for yoga and massage.
All finishers received a pair of gray painters gloves with the Metric Marathon logo, as well as all the Ledo pizza they could eat. Post-race refreshments also included Bagel Bin bagels, Overall and age group winners received wooden plaques and gift certificates from Feet First of Hickory Ridge. 485 completed the Metric, while 182 finished the 5k.
The Howard County Striders put on the Metric Marathon to commemorate the linkage between the old city of Ellicott City and the new city of Columbia, and the course threads both. John and Ann Worley directed the Metric Marathon and 5k. They have directed the race for many years, and were relieved (along with most of the runners) to finally have some good weather. The Striders wish to thank the Howard County Police for providing traffic control and dozens of dedicated volunteers who served as course marshals and water dispensers.
by Jim Carbary