Women’s Distance Festival 5K

2001 Women’s Distance Festival Overall Results

2001 Women’s Distance Festival Awards

2001 Women’s Distance Festival Team Results

“Go ahead, you can catch those girls,” Julie Deutschmann-Thienel said to Kerry Bowes half way through the Women’s Distance Festival 5k last Friday, July 6. The two had met for the first time on July 4 at the Meadefest 5k, where the younger Bowes had finished second overall and just beaten Thienel, who had set a personal record. Half-way around the Columbiba Mall, however, Julie ran ahead of Kerry and seemed on the verge of retaliation. When Bowes caught her rival the two of them were in third and fourth place, and Thienel’s words encouraged the former University of Maryland miler enough to challenge and overtake the leaders. Running “relaxed,” Ms. Bowes went on to win the all-woman race by the margin of 20 seconds. Thienel hung on to finish third overall, narrowly missing second place in a spirited sprint against Kristen Bremmer of Baltimore but setting yet another personal record.

Mothers-and-daughters paired up to compete in two age groups as two-person teams, although some of the 24 teams may have signed up to showcase peculiar team names. In the event, Bob’s Babes (Lindsay and Nancy Burns) outlasted the Georges (Libby and Lissa George) in the 15-and-Up group, while the Hibberts (Kathy and Jessica) overwhelmed the Under-15 group. The Georges have won the team competition in previous years, but were handicapped this year by Libby’s suffering a broken foot in the Spring while running for Haverford College. “I was happy to finish under 27 [minutes]!” enthused her mother Lissa.

The WDF race drew an all-woman field of 382 finishers. The women began running at midnight and circled the Columbia Mall twice. Unseasonably cool weather as well as the absence of a concert at Meriwether Post Pavilion and a nearly flat course made for a comfortable race. In spite of the favorable conditions, the numbers of runners was diminished somewhat because many were out of town for Independence Day.

Six-year-old Alyssa Shouse, the youngest runner, ran with her sisters Nicole and Chelsea. They all set personal records, and Alyssa beat her older sister, Chelsea. “My shoes came untied,” protested Chelsea (it was her first 5 km). “I had to carry Alyssa to the car because she was asleep,” commented Mrs. Karen Shouse about their late-night arrival. Along with all the 12 and under girls, the Shouse sisters received medals, and young Alyssa also won a random award.

For many of the women, the 5 km race marked their graduation from the Females In Training (FIT) program, conducted by the Howard County Striders every Spring. The FIT women had been running (and walking) every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon since April. Over 50 participants graduated this Spring.

For winning the race, Kerry Bowes earned a free entry into the Avon Women’s race in Baltimore in September as well as a Dry Release Shirt and other merchandise. Age group winners received lucite plaques and gift certificates from Feet First. Every participant got multi-color t-shirts and enjoyed bagels, fruit, spring water, and FIT graduation cake at the post-race ceremony.

Carrie Perfetto and Mikie Nard, two former FIT students, made their debut as directors of the Women’s Distance Festival. They were supported by the Howard County Strider men, who marshaled the race and managed the finish line, by the Howard County Police, and most importantly by Columbia Mall personnel who stayed up much later than usual to help administer the race. The Howard County General Hospital was the principal sponsor of the race and contributed a donation to the Sexual Trauma Treatment and Recovery (STTAR) Center on behalf of the Women’s Distance Festival.

The race is one of a series of WDF races held during the summer under the auspices of the Road Runner’s Club of America. Originally intended to celebrate the beginning of the women’s marathon at the Olympics, the WDF races now encourage women’s fitness through running. The Howard County edition of the Festival has taken place since the 1980’s.

by Jim Carbary

Women’s Distance Festival 5K

2000 Women’s Distance Festival Overall Results

2000 Women’s Distance Festival Awards

2000 Women’s Distance Festival Team Results

Cool temperatures produced sizzling times at the Howard County General Hospital’s Women’s Distance Festival 5k race last Friday night. It was appropriate that the 3.1 mile race around Columbia Mall started at Midnight as surely many of the 438 runners must have thought they were dreaming. The exact opposite of last year, the 2000 edition featured unusually cool weather and new, fast (Phish-free) course. “It was the nicest weather of any race this summer,” remarked winner Connie Buckwalter. Buckwalter, a PA resident and frequent visitor to the Baltimore racing scene, jumped to an early lead and never let it go. Local favorite, Vicki Lang, was elated over her 2nd place finish in a time of 18:22 as it was the fastest 5k time she’d run in 5 years! She attributed her stellar performance to “perfect weather and good competition”. Michelle Smith, who duked it out with Vicki for 2nd place last year, was 3rd in a time of 18:32, her fastest 5k time on the roads ever! Michelle, who runs for James Madison University, declined her finisher’s prize in order to retain her NCAA eligibility. She did, however, get to share this special evening with her mom, Gloria Smith, by running as part of a mother-daughter team, another great feature of this unique event. The team competition was won by “Archcats”, which was comprised on Nancy Catizone and Keesha Archard.

The WDF enjoyed a new title sponsor this year in Howard County General Hospital. Paul M. Gleichauf of HCGH, said the hospital was very pleased to sponsor the race because, “It’s about people being fit,” and is in keeping with a large part of their overall mission which is caring for the community and keeping it healthy. Other contributors to the race included Moving Comfort and Feet First. Runners enjoyed post-race refreshments provided by Einstein Bros. Bagels, Honest Tea, Stonyfield Farms Yogurt and Product Galore.

Race Director Kelly Barton put on another outstanding event and was assisted this year by assistant race director, Judith Gilbert. Of course, none of this would be possible without the invaluable assistance of the Columbia Mall, the Howard County Police and an army of Strider (& other) volunteers. Heading the volunteer group was Judith Colon, who was assisted by Ron Weber (race night registration), Jim Discuillo (results) Ralph Massella (water), Kathleen Lefkowitz (packet pickup), Bob Burns, Miles Weigold, and Dave and Jason Tripp (finish line), Ray Lake (course measurement) and Mick Slonaker(traffic).

Women’s Distance Festival 5K

1999 Women’s Distance Festival Overall Results

1999 Women’s Distance Festival Awards

1999 Women’s Distance Festival Team Results

The approximately 500 women who assembled at the Columbia Mall last Friday night expected the St. Agnes Health Care Women’s Distance Festival 5k would start on schedule at midnight, but the Phish concert across the street at the Merriweather Post Pavillion seriously disrupted the agenda. The race was supposed to take place entirely within the Mall’s parking lot, but the lot was still jammed with Phishite vehicles long after the announced 11 pm conclusion of the performance. At midnight, the traffic had barely started to leave, and race officials had no choice but to delay the race. For over one hour, Howard County Police and Mall Security worked heroically to clear the parking lot, often against the wishes of the Phishes. At about 12:45 am, the women were gathered at the start line one the lot’s perimeter loop near the new Lord and Taylor. There they waited for another half hour while police cleared Phish remnants from the northwest lot. The women raised a cheer at 1:10 am when Miles Weigold announced that police had finally cleared the course and would let the race proceed.

“They were pretty mellow out there for the most part,” one woman said of the few concerteers who remained in the lot during the race. Theall-woman field made three loops around the Mall’s perimeter, each time encountering friendly police and Strider volunteers as well as the Phishers in addition to escort by a police cruiser and two Vespa scooters from the Baltimore Bombers club. Most Phish offered encouraging words, but a few tried to run along with the women, and at least one attempted to skate-board with them! The women kept their cool, if not always their speed, and at total of 416 runners finished the appointed 3.1 mile tour of the Mall parking lot without incident.

In the actual race, national-class triathlete Amanda Gillam seized an early lead and then a commanding lead by the half-mile mark. She and the police car held a speed session that culminated in a time of 18:48. Well behind Gillam, Columbians Michele Smith and Vicki Lang duelled each other through the first mile until Smith, who runs for James Madison University, pulled away from Lang. A graduate of the University of Tennesse, Gillam celebrated her 27th birthday with the victory and credited her younger cousin, Jackie Fowler (1st, 11-14 yrs), for encouraging her to run the race.

The Women’s Distance Festival also featured competition between 38 mother-daughter teams. Lissa George and her daughter Libby won the team championship for the second year in a row. They creditied their success to their training together and to a special diet of ice-cream.

Barbara Gorman of St. Agnes Healthcare and Courtney Blair of the Sexual Trauma Treatment Advocacy and Recovery (STTAR) Center were on hand to help race director Kelly Barton distribute prizes and random awards after the race, which didn’t end until after 2 am. In its second year as a the principal sponsor of the race, St. Agnes made a donation to the STTAR fund on behalf of the Women’s Distance Festival. Other sponsors included Moving Comfort and Runner’s World, who sponsor the nationwide series of Women’s Distance Festivals for the Road Runner’s Club of America.

The overall race winners received medals, polo shirts, heavy medallions, and gift certificates from Feet First of Wilde Lake. In spite of the hour, many women stuck around for random awards and post-race refreshments of bagels, fruit, and veggie platters.

The WDF 5k is staged each year at the Columbia Mall by the Howard County Striders. Ms. Barton was assisted by Brad Speierman and Miles Weigold at the finish line, Carla Styczynski at packet pick-up, Lisa Lowe at race-night registration, Judith Colon as water coordinator, Jim DiScuillo on race results, and especially by Mick Slonaker and his all-male traffic control volunteers. Columbia Mall security and the Howard County Police “bent over backwards” to make the race safe and clear up the concert traffic.

by Jim Carbary

Women’s Distance Festival 5K

1998 Women’s Distance Festival Overall Results

1998 Women’s Distance Festival Awards

1998 Women’s Distance Festival Team Results

In its 19th year, the Annual Women’s Distance Festival 5k enjoyed new sponsorship as well as a new course. St. Agnes HealthCare System provided major funding for the Festival and also supported the Females in Training (FIT) program, which trained women for the event. The Howard County Striders, who staged the race, in turn donated race proceeds to the Howard County Sexual Trauma Treatment Advocacy and Recovery Center. Barbara Gorman of St. Agnes was on hand to help hand out awards, while Dr. Janice Shih provided race-time medical assistance.

The 5k race also served as the graduation ceremony for the FIT women. Under the tutelage of various Howard County Striders, the FITs began training in the early Spring for the 5k (as well as for the Avon 10k in June). Over 100 women graduated and received workout wristwatches courtesy of St. Agnes HealthCare. In a post-race ceremony, Miles Weigold read off each of the FIT names to the accolades of the assembled multitude.

The cool dry weather of Friday night encouraged no fewer than 195 women to register on race night. All together, a near-record 649 women signed up for the event and 580 finished. The field represented a vast cross section of running abilities and even included a large number of walkers. After the start, a line of women stretched over a mile in length.

Lancaster’s Connie Buckwalter outduelled local favorite Bea Marie Altieri to win the race by 10 seconds. Rockville’s Gretchen Triantos, the first master, finished third overall in 18:47.

In addition to the individual competitions, the WDF featured mother-daughter team competitions. A total of 59 teams attested to the fitness of two generations of women. The “Dashing Duo” team of Libby and Lissa George won the overall mother-daughter competition with a low-point score of 16.

Construction at the Columbia Mall required a revision of the course. The new course wound back and forth throught the Mall parking lot and then up and down a significant hill on a road outside the Mall. The Baltimore Bombers Vespa Scooter Club paced the lead runners alongthe new route. Race Director Kelly Barton, who won the race last year, rode on the back of one such scooter.

The race winner received merchanise from Moving Comfort, the national sponsor of all Women’s Distance Festival races, while Feet First donated gift certificates to the top overall finishers as well as age group winners. Post-race refreshments included Stoneyfield Yogurts, several bags of Einstein bagels, Power Bars and Harvest Bars, two Bun Penny vegetable platters, and Produce Galore fruit.

by Jim Carbary