Carlos Renjifo recently became a resident of Howard County and began training with the Howard County Striders. Last Sunday, he ran his first Strider race, the Penguin Pace 5k (3.1 miles). He didn’t know exactly what to expect and was somewhat startled when David Shah (who came all the way from San Francisco, CA!) leapt from the start with a blazing first quarter mile— all downhill. Carlos matched that furious early pace, however, and the two had a lead of nearly 10 yards on everyone else when they turned onto Hesperus Drive at the bottom of the first hill. Carlos asserted control of the race at that point, completing the initial mile in an amazing 4:45. Shah himself faded to sixth overall, while Renjifo cruised to victory in 16:09. “My second mile was only 5:10,” Carlos related. He left shortly after finishing because he had to teach Sunday School.
The women’s race featured Strider 2005 Runner of the Year Robyn Humphrey, who not only won the women’s competition by over a minute, but also was the only woman to break 20 minutes on the extremely hilly Penguin Pace course. “It was not a strong day for me,” Robyn said, because she had run a race the weekend before and had done a hard track workout on the Thursday before.
In the masters (over-40) competition, Sheldon Degenhardt outlasted John Chall (2nd, 40-49M), although Sheldon’s main competition seemed to be Phil Lang, whom he finally succeeded in beating in the final quarter mile. “Phil ran a marathon two weeks ago,” Degenhardt explained. “He ran out of gas more than I ran out of gas.”
Strider Master Runner of 2005 Lisa Fichman won the women’s masters competition (21:36). “I ran behind Tiffany Lang’s (1st, 14&U) ponytail for the first mile,” Lisa confessed. Amelia Ingersoll shocked the master women by finishing second behind Fichman in the age group. Running the Strider weekly races, Ingersoll had been training on the very same “killer hills” on which the race occurred and she was ready.
If the hills were deadly, at least the weather cooperated. In 2005, a snow-ice storm forced cancellation of the Penguin Pace, so the relatively mild weather (37F at race time) was a relief. Temperatures were so warm, in fact, that many runners wore shorts! “This was not ‘penguin’ weather,” one runner remarked. The favorable weather (if not the hills!) drew a field of 347.
The race was directed by Arleen Dinneen, hosted by the Howard County Striders, and benefited the Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia, MD. County Executive Jim Robey was on hand at 7:45 am to officially start the race, which began and ended at the senior center. After the race, participants and volunteers feasted on a fabulous brunch catered by the Elkridge Furnace Inn (c. 1744). Participants received multi-colored sweatshirts; age group winners received signature knit caps that proclaimed “I placed at the Penguin Pace 2006.”
by Jim Carbary