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
When the 2012 Penguin Pace began, one woman shot to the front of the women’s field so fast that the core of the Strider women’s racing team thought she would have won the race, but the trio of Robyn Humphrey, Caroline Bauer, and Pat Wilkerson worked together and slowly reeled in the frontrunner. After a mile and half, mostly downhill, they caught the leader on the backside of the hilly course through the Beaver Brook community and “crushed her.” “We think she was from Falls Road [rival running club],” Robyn said. Beating Falls Road didn’t settle the issue, however, as Robyn, Caroline and Pat together continued to “crank up that last hill.” With a last gasp of speed, Humphrey nosed ahead of her two rivals on the final slope on Elliot’s Oak and pulled away to win in 20:04. “I’ve never broken 20 minutes on this course,” Robyn noted, but she came really close this year.
In spite of running 10 miles the day before, Karsten Brown had little trouble dispatching the men’s field at the Penguin Pace. He took the lead after the first quarter mile and never looked back. He didn’t even wear his racing flats. When he got to the starting line, Karsten looked down and realized he was wearing his old, beat-up training shoes with 1500+ miles on them. “I don’t think they made a difference,” he said. He finished in 17:26.
The top three male and female finishers and all age group winners received as awards the signature Penguin Pace cap, which is ideal for winter running.
The very hilly course wound downhill through the Longfellow neighborhood of Columbia and then circled around Beaver Brook. A long steep uphill challenged runners in the last mile of the 3.1-mile race. It was a difficult course on which to set a personal record, but Amanda An managed to do just that with a time of 21:34. A former coach in the Striders Next Step program, Amanda also ran that 10 mile race the day before. “But that was the marathon program, not the 5k,” she noted.
A little light snow and wet roads didn’t stop 384 runners from finishing. A record field of 500 entered the race, which closed out for the second year in a row. The large turnout didn’t come for the hilly course, though, they came for the sumptuous post-race brunch catered by the Elkridge Furnace Inn (circa 1744), which provided croissants, scones, muffins, and fruit salad. And there was enough food left over that participants could take some home for their Superbowl parties.
Glenda Rodriguez made her debut as race director at the Penguin Pace 5k. The Striders wish to thank the Howard County Police for providing traffic control, and also the dozens of Strider volunteers on the course early on a dreary Sunday morning.
by Jim Carbary
There was no snowstorm to foil this year’s Penguin Pace 5k, but there was just enough ice to make the race interesting. Winner Mark Buschman (17:21) had little trouble beating the men’s field, including Ultra-Runner of 2010 Karsten Brown, whom he dispatched after the first mile, but he did actually have to slow down a little to keep his footing. In the last mile, he was watching the outgoing runners coming toward him and missed a patch of ice on the right side of the road. “I slowed down a little,” Mark said. But he didn’t slow down enough for Karsten to catch him.
In the women’s race, Robyn Humphrey (20:37) really did slow down when the course turned right onto Hesperus from Longfellow, where a big patch of ice had not yet succumbed to the salt thrown on it. “Then it was mine, mine, mine,” she enthused about the remainder of the race. Robyn wasn’t racing the women, though, as much as the men, and confessed she was really trying to beat grandmaster John Chall. She didn’t, but John conferred his own slogan after taking third place among the 50-59 men: “It was slow down or fall down.”
The Great Snowstorm of ’10 dumped a foot of snow of the course last year, and the Penguin Pace was cancelled, but this year the course was snow-free and ice-free– except for a couple places. Course volunteers liberally salted these spots and warned approaching runners, so no one fell down or anything. The course was pretty hilly, too. Neither the ice nor the hills prevented at least one person from setting a personal 5k record. A new-runner of the year for 2010 from the Howard Country Striders for 2011, Donna Wecker not only set a personal record (21:19), she also finished second among the 40-49 women and she wasn’t wearing racing shoes, either!).
Paul Goldenberg served as the effective race director for the Penguin Pace 5k, which draws its inspiration and its name from the Runner’s World articles of John Bingham. The event raises funds for the Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia, MD. Overall winners Buschman and Humphrey received gift certificates from Road Runner Sports, as well as the signature knit caps stating “I placed at Penguin Pace 2011.” Age group winners just received the caps. The Howard County Striders provided race management, results, and course volunteers for the race. Afterwards, runners and volunteers gathered at the Bain Center for a sumptuous brunch catered by the Elkridge Furnace Inn. 377 finished the race.
The 2010 Penguin Pace was cancelled due to inclement weather.