Even after the week-long string of record-breaking heat had ended, there was still some torrid competition at the annual women-only Women’s Distance Festival 5k in Columbia on July 11. Heat would have been familiar to Caroline Tynan, though, because just a couple weeks before she had devastated the women’s field in even hotter weather at the Damien’s 5k. In the moderate temperatures on Friday, Caroline blasted through the first downhill mile in 5:18, leaving local favorites Pam Maldeis and Sherry Stick in her wake. “I was just trying to keep her in sight,” said Maldeis, a member of the Howard County Strider racing team. Although they succeeded in keeping Tynan in sight, neither Maldeis nor Stick could gain any ground on her, even in the final quarter-mile straight away. A former All-American in cross country and track at Villanova, Tynan crushed her competition for the second consecutive road race in Howard County. She easily broke 18 minutes. Even so, Maldeis was pleased with her time and acknowledged that Tynan “helped me maintain a fast pace.”
Local master runner Robyn Humphrey finished a distant fourth, but she might not have been so far behind had she not gone off course about a mile from the finish. Rather than running the “new” 5k course that stays on Sunny Spring, Robyn wandered 100 yards alone the “old” course that turned onto Bright Plume. “I would have broken 20 [minutes] for sure,” Robyn lamented. Nevertheless, the errant runner claimed fourth overall and won the prize for first master runner (40+ years).
Robyn’s going off course allowed first grandmaster Pat Wilkerson (50+ years) to gain ground on her to the effect that she had a chance to beat her. She didn’t, but it would sure would have been something. “It was just like a Tuesday morning temp run with your friends,” Pat reminisced.
The top three women, plus the first master and grand master won cash prizes and Lucite plaques. The awards were not checks or gift certificates, but cold cash in unmarked twenty dollar bills in sealed envelops. “I’m heading to Starbucks for a venti,” remarked one of the award winners.
The WDF 5k served as the graduation exercise for nearly 75 women in the Females in Training (FIT) program. Directed by Beverly Byron and Melissa Burger, the award-winning program trains women during the spring to compete in a 5k road race, namely, the Women’s Distance Festival 5k. This spring, about 100 women trained under Bev and Missy, and 75 of them did the WDF 5k in Columbia.
Although not a FIT woman herself, Jill Krause won her own personal battle merely by walking the 5 km course. Diagnosed with breast cancer, Jill ran the Nation’s Marathon in DC a few weeks ago, then had mastectomy, and still managed to finish the appointed course on Sunday. She starts chemotherapy on Wednesday. “I’m an athlete, dude,” Jill commented.
The WDF 5k initiated a new, automated timing system recently purchased by the Howard County Striders. The Chronotrack system records radio signals emitted by disposable plastic bands inserted into shoes; runners merely cross timing mats at the start and finish of a race and the system records their times. Redundant mats made the system virtually fail-proof. “It’s 99.9% accurate,” said Josh McWilliams, Chronotrack representative who trained the Striders in using the system. (Josh was on hand at the finish line in case anything went wrong.) The system flawlessly recorded the times and identities of all 362 finishers, and the finish line crew captained by Bob Burns found itself out of a job! “This represents a major advance over the old manual timing as well as the alternate ChampionChip system,” noted Jim DiSciullo, results coordinator.
Tacy Feliciano directed the Women’s Distance Festival 5k, which is part of a nation-wide series of all-women races that celebrates the introduction of the women’s marathon into the Olympic Games. The men of the Howard County Striders provided race support at the finish line and along the course, while the Howard County Police provided traffic control throughout the Hickory Ridge neighborhoods through which ran the race. The Striders wish to thank the Howard County General Hospital and the Columbia Bank as well as Feet First of Hickory Ridge, Howard County Chiropractic, and the Bagel Bin. The Howard Community College graciously donated its gymnasium and parking lots for the race venue.
by Jim Carbary