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Komen Race for the Cure gets under way

5K race expected to draw 30,000 participants

By Candus Thomson, The Baltimore Sun

10:06 AM EDT, October 23, 2011

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David Berdan likes the Komen Maryland Race for the Cure so much, he'll do it twice Sunday, once as the two-time defending champion of the Hunt Valley event and later as a family man whose loved ones have suffered from breast cancer.

Before the race, Berdan, 30, said: "If I win again, awesome, because then I'll be interviewed and can talk about the campaign to end this disease."

In fact, the science teacher and cross-county coach at Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills did win again, topping the men's division Sunday morning.

Stephanie Hoag was the first woman to cross the finish line. The first breast cancer survivor to cross was Kathleen Hammett, a three-year survivor.

Race organizers are expecting more than 32,000 participants, who will run or walk the 5k course set up between Interstate 83 and York Road. Last year, an estimated 29,000 people participated and raised $3 million for breast cancer research and support programs.

The run began at 8 a.m. and the 5k walk and one-mile family walk were scheduled for 8:30. The awards ceremony is set for 10 a.m.

Road closures in the area around the race began at 6 a.m. and will be lifted once participants are off the course.

Baltimore Deputy Mayor Kaliope Parthemos, who was diagnosed with breast cancer this time last year, participated along with her team, Keeping up with Kaliope, which has raised more than $25,000.

"You pull on an inner strength," Parthemos said of the experience of having breast cancer. "Whatever your faith is, you find a deeper faith; whatever your priorities are, you re-evaluate them."

This is the 14th year the Garrison Forrest School has participated in the Race for the Cure. The team of 405 students, faculty, parents and alumnae has raised more than $18,000.

Berdan, who finished last year with a time of 15 minutes, 18 seconds, ran with his cross country squad.

"It was a way to force them to get in a run on the weekend," he said, laughing. "I just want them to enjoy the experience."

Berdan's been running a lot lately: He ran the Baltimore Marathon just a week ago, leading for the first 11 miles. His time of 2:21:19, good for 10th place, was the best time for a Maryland resident.

"We'll see if I can," he said before nabbing his third consecutive win. "But I'm really looking forward to walking the course with my wife and two sons. Winning a race is nice, but winning over breast cancer is what it's all about."

Berdan's wife of four years, Amanda, lost a grandmother to breast cancer and her other grandmother just started chemotherapy. A good family friend recently was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer survivor Reagan Gill of Waldorf showed up with her parents, husband and 14-month-old daughter, Keeley, who was bundled against the pre-dawn cold in a fuzzy pink blanket.

Gill's cancer was diagnosed three months after her daughter's birth.

"I want to show her how healthy mommy is," Gill said. "I'm racing today so hopefully she won't have to."

Thousands of participants were delayed by a multiple-vehicle accident that occurred before 6 a.m. on northbound I-83, just before Exit 20.

The bottleneck prompted race officials to delay the start of the 5k run for 15 minutes. But emergency personnel were able to restore traffic flow quickly to keep the event on schedule.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com