Karsten Brown had run a 10-mile race in Frederick, MD, the day before the Penguin Pace 5k last Sunday, and he really didn’t expect to do as well as he did in the hilly race through the Longfellow and Beaverbrook communities. In fact, because of the light snow that fell the evening before, he said “I was afraid the race might be cancelled.” But after a blistering downhill in the first mile, he began gaining ground on the leaders, David Toller and Nick Grossi, both of Columbia, MD. “I knew the course,” Karsten explained, “because I’ve run the [Howard County Strider] Longfellow weekly race through here billions of times.” Certainly, he exaggerated. Anyway, Mr. Brown overhauled Toller just before the 5k course doubled back on itself on Lake View Circle, and he gradually gained ground ascending the final, mile-long hill back to the starting point at the Bain Center. He won in 17:28. “I was surprised the roads were in such good condition,” he said, “and I’m grateful to the volunteers for helpfully pointing out possibly slippery spots.” Note: Karsten won the race last year, too, after he ran the same 10 miler.
In the women’s race, Tiffany Hevner had all she could handle racing against Alison Slade. The two brushed aside last year’s winner, Robyn Humphrey, and took control of the field on the initial downhill. And they didn’t succumb to any late charge on the backside of the course, either. “If anything, they got farther ahead on the uphill,” Ms. Humphrey said. Eyewitnesses noted Hevner and Slade battling “neck and neck” up the final hill on Elliot’s Oak Road, but Hevner opened it up on the final 0.2 mile at the top of the hill to best her competitor by a scant eight seconds ahead of Slade. Columbia resident Hevner is a recent addition to the Strider racing team and finishing ninth overall in the Penguin Pace in 20:06.
An extremely popular race, the Penguin Pace closed its registration several weeks ago when the allowed maximum of 500 runners had signed up. The snowfall must have kept many away, because only 368 finished. Every runner received a long-sleeve “technical” t-shirt plus in one of those plastic bags usable for groceries. Overall and age group winners earned a signature Penguin Pace knit cap they’ve being giving out for 18 years. Karsten has a regular collection of them.
Co-Race Director Glenda Rodriguez was called out of town before the race and could not be on hand, but she phoned in the morning all the way from Puerto Rico to check up on the event. The other co-director, Malcolm Wolf, President of the Bain Center Council, was on hand, and he helped out at the post-race awards ceremony. Proceeds from the event went to the Bain Center Council, a non-profit advisory group associated with the Bain Center.
After the race, runners came in from the cold (it was 22F at race time) to enjoy a lavish brunch catered by the Elkridge Furnace Inn (circa 1744). The gourmet meal included elegant pastries, fruit salads, muffins, and beverages such as hot chocolate and orange juice.
In addition to the Bain Center, the Howard County Striders thank the Howard County Police for directing traffic during the event, and the dozens of chilled volunteers along the course who kept Karsten, among others, from slipping.
by Jim Carbary