For 17 years, the Run Through the Grapevine 8k course at Linganore Winery was actually a little short, so this year an extra hill was added around another grapevine to satisfy a more exact measurement. The unofficial story for the route change, though, was that Mark Buschman vowed to beat the best time of Pekka Stenholm, a former racing team member who had moved back to his native Finland. Mark and Pekka had met at the Berlin Marathon earlier in the year and must have had a discussion about the Grapevine. Race director Jason Tripp decided the course should be as accurate as possible, so a course extension occurred, and Mark failed by 20 seconds to beat the time (about 30:30). Everyone else reported slower times at the Grapevine “8k” this year, too.
The extra 0.2-mile didn’t bother Carlos Renjifo, who won the race by over 1:30, the largest margin by which anyone had ever won the race (29:07). Carlos led the field for essentially the entire race, although he inexplicably went off course twice. Once, he took second place Andrew Revelle off course with him, and third-place Mike Colaiacovo shouted to them to turn left rather than right. They quickly corrected themselves and resumed the competition. “I thought I could run in 27 or 28 [minutes] but I couldn’t,” Carlos said, not realizing the extra mileage had its effect. Still, he was the only runner in the field to break half an hour on the treacherously hilly course.
The women’s race was a much closer affair than the men’s. Initially, Howard Countian Rian Landers-Ramos assumed the lead, but then Jill Krebs took the lead after emerging from the second set of grapevines. Jill and her teammate Sherry Stick battled “back and forth through the woods.” Jill then took “a weird step” at four miles and Sherry was on her. “I could see she had her game face on,” Jill said. “I knew it was all over.” A perennial winner, Sherry hung on to win by 12 seconds (35:03).
Elkridge’s Donna Wecker outsprinted Jane Wickman of Germantown to claim the award as top master-woman (41:25). Although Donna regularly runs trails, she had never run Grapevine before and was not prepared for the steep hills and ankle-twisting grass. “The hills were brutal,” she said, “and there were soooo many of them.” Donna turns 50 in a few weeks and will then begin to terrorize the grand-master women.
The top master man was Mike Colaiacovo, who finished third overall (30:53) and earned and overall award. The next fastest master was grandmaster Keith McIntyre (34:03). Keith’s stunning performance was blunted only by his son Conner’s beating him.
The Run Through the Grapevine featured a plethora of team competitions. The Howard County Strider Men’s team, with Renjifo, Revelle, Buschman, and Colaiacovo crushed the opposition to win the overall men’s team competition with a perfect score of 10 points. The Baltimore-Washington Athletic Club consisted of Stick and Krebs with their old pal Diana Pool and new-comer Joan Namasinga had a nearly perfect score of 13 in winning the women’s team competition. Put together by Steve Anderson, the OMG men’s masters team won a prize for the seventh year in a row (although it was only men’s masters team). There was no prize for the best team name, but some of the outstanding samples were “Mac Attack” (the McIntyre family) and “Merlot is how we roll” (Ken Miller, Jeanine Rogers, and Laura and Ryan Guenin).
The 18th Annual and Newly-Recalibrated Run Through the Grapevine took place at the Linganore Winery in Carroll County on November 11. The race is staged each year by the Howard County Striders, who wish to thank the winery owner Anthony Aellen for the use of his grapevines and hills. Jason Tripp directed. Award winners received gift certificates for bottles of wine, which they could redeem immediately after the race. The weather was so nice this year that many stayed after the race to enjoy wine and lunch under pleasant autumn skies.
The race sold out two weeks before with a total of 650 registrants. Of these, 573 actually showed up and ran the race. “Not a record, but close,” said official scorer Jim DiSciullo.