On behalf of the Howard County Striders, we would like to thank our volunteers and sponsors for making this event a success!!!
Conducted by the Howard County Striders, the Run Through the Grapevine 8k last Sunday at the Linganore Winery tested runners’ abilities to climb extreme up and down hills, ford streams, cross muddy terrain, and avoid tangled roots and vines— as well as their ability to follow a marked race course that actually did pass back and forth through grapevines. Unfortunately, the top three runners in the race flunked the last part of the exam. Less than half a mile from the finish, the trio of Adam Wytko, Steve Olenick, and Sean Trombly were well ahead of the rest of the field but somehow missed the last turn into the last set of grapevines. Before they recognized their error, they had overshot most of the grapevines and turned up an earlier part of the course, eventually finding themselves wandering among cars in the parking area. Olenick and Trombly dutifully followed the leader Wytko in this escapade.
Not knowing the leaders’ errors, Ryan Hevner and James Blackwood were running just behind and did make the correct turn. “I thought I was running for fourth or fifth,” said Blackwood, who let Hevner pass him in that last set of ‘vines, “and I thought fifth was pretty respectable.” They were surprised to learn they had finished first and second when they crossed the finish line. “I had run the last half mile during warm-up,” Blackwood confided, adding “and there was an arrow [to mark the turn], too!”
The women’s race featured a different type of drama between two women who run the Grapevine race each year to see who’s the best. Although they train together regularly, Sherry Stick and Jill Krebs attacked each other mercilessly during the 8 km race. First one would go ahead, and then the other, up and down the extreme hills and through the root-tangled woods and especially on the muddy hill half-way through the race. “It was a real death match,” Jill said, “just like in the last few years.” This time, Stick emerged victorious, crushing her rival on the last agonizing uphill in through the last grapevine. “We didn’t have any trouble missing the turn,” Sherry said.
Of particular note was the performance of Keith Levasseur, who ran the Baltimore Marathon a few weeks ago in 2:46 while wearing flip-flops. Just the day before the Grapevine race, Keith had completed the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile Trail Run, negotiating snow (from Hurricane Sandy) up to a foot deep, as well as the usual assortment of ultra miseries. Keith finished the Grapevine 8k in an astounding 32:20 and placed second among the 30-34 men. He did not wear flip-flops this time. Keith and James Blackwood, along with Grace Tran (who also finished that 50-Miler!), also served on the “We R Wine Bottles” team that finished first in the Open Coed Team Division.
The 2012 Run Through the Grapevine closed its registration its limit three weeks before race day. 669 runners completed the arduous race. The top runners in each gender earned gift certificates to Feet First of Columbia, as well as cash awards. Age group winners and winning teams earned bottles of wine or gift certificates for wine from the Linganore Winery. After the race, the sun came out and many stayed around to lounge in the grass and munch of crackers and cheese and sip wine. Everyone who cross the finish line received a genuine Run Through the Grapevine wine glass so they could drink their wine.
Jason Tripp directed the race, which featured course marshals from the Howard County Strider racing team. The Striders thank Anthony Aellen, proprietor of the Linganore Winery in Frederick County, for the use of his grapevines.