Randy McDermott may have won the 15th annual Run Through the Grapevine 8K, but he did something far more important after the race. In front of the audience at the awards ceremony, Randy proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Janet Gratton. Randy’s dog Oliver brought the engagement ring in a green bag and tangled the two with the leash. Janet accepted, the audience applauded, and the couple hugged blissfully. “That was better than winning,” Randy said.
In the actual race, McDermott took the lead in the hilly race near the three mile mark when he passed Strider racing team captain Carlos Renjifo. Carlos exhausted his energy holding the lead going up that ridiculously steep hill at 2.5 miles. “I didn’t know about the course,” Carlos confessed. Perhaps contemplating his proposal, McDermott went off course near the finish and prematurely ran 100 yards downhill. Renjifo and Paul Hannsen, in third place, followed him off course. All three had to run back uphill to regain the course, and so lost precious time. “Maybe 30 seconds,” Carlos reckoned. Nevertheless, they all broke 30 minutes.
Such drama and mis-navigation did not occur during the women’s race. Sherry Stick and Dianna Pool dueled for the women’s lead in the early going, but Stick took the lead for good after the big hill and went on win in 33:57, the only female to break 34 minutes. “This is definitely the hardest [cross country] course I’ve ever run,” said Stick, who was once a runner for Salisbury State.
The top master runner was Mark Hoon, who finished fourth. Mark earned a top-5 finish, so the official honor of first among the 40+ males went to Junior Strider coach Phil Lang, who is a cross country animal. The top female master was Pat Wilkerson in 37:49.
Although most runners commented on the very steep hills of the Grapevine’s course, they also had to contend with wild animals. A deer darted downhill across the course and knocked down Karen Mawdsley. “It just came plowing through,” she said. Luckily, the deer was a doe, not a buck. The event occurred around the three mile point just before the course went back into the woods. After the collision, Karen got up and finished without further incident.
The race not only featured 5-year age groups, but also a myriad of team competitions. There were two open male teams, two masters male teams, five open female teams, three masters female teams, eight coed teams, four master coed teams, and four family teams.
Stumbling, weaving, occasionally walking, some 524 runners completed the Run Through the Grapevine 8k, which takes place every autumn at the Linganore Winery in Mt. Airy. The Howard County Striders stage the race with the cooperation of Anthony Aellen, owner of the Winery. All finishers received a wine glass, and the award winners (at least those of the appropriate age) received gift certificates for wine, which they redeemed immediately after the awards ceremony.
Jason Tripp directed the race, with the assistance of various Howard County Striders at the finish line, registration table, and on the course. In particular, the Striders wish to thank Dave Tripp, who baked over 1000 cookies and a dozen (or so) loaves the traditional banana nut bread for the post-race refreshments.
by Jim Carbary