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