Cold rain a 'baptism' for Catonsville school's 5k fundraiser

Nearly 100 runners who raced through the streets of Catonsville had extra incentive to finish the St. Mark 5k Monster Dash quickly Saturday morning.

It was warm and dry at the finish line.

"We're getting our baptism here," said Virginia O'Malley, organizer of the Oct. 29 event to benefit the general fund of the Catholic grade school on Melvin Avenue.

Despite the cold rain and a forecast of snow for later day, O'Malley said several runners signed up at the last minute online the night before the race and there were even several walk-ups just before the race's 9 a.m. start.

The runners followed a course from the school to Egges Lane, across Frederick Road to Mellor Avenue, on several side streets to Gary Avenue and across South Rolling Road. They made their way to Hilton Avenue and eventually back to the school.

The fastest was Halethorpe resident Scott Gierasch, whose 19:55 time was well ahead of the field by several minutes.

"I looked back after the first mile and I think I was ahead by 15-20 seconds at that point," said Gierasch, a York native who ran in college for Dickinson.

Gierasch, whose youngest, Linnea, 4, is in the pre-school program at St. Mark and his oldest, Amelia, 6, is in the first grade at Relay Elementary School, admitted he woke that morning hoping he would not be running the streets of Catonsville that day.

"I definitely have run in the rain, and in the cold, but not cold rain," he said. "There's fine line between crazy and pneumonia.

"It wasn't too bad, just wet," he said. "Your shoes get water logged and everything feels heavy because it's wet."

He said he runs five times a week. His favorite route is along Rolling Road to Frederick Road west to River Road then through Patapsco Valley State Park and then home.

"That's a great Saturday morning run," he said of the 13-mile route which usually takes him an hour and 40 minutes to complete.

O'Malley said about 200 youngsters and adults registered for either the 1-mile fun run around the school area just before the 5k's start or the 5k.

A runner herself whose son is in kindergarten at St. Mark School, she said she was not surprised that the weather failed to dissuade the field of runners from taking part Saturday.

"Runners run," she said. "If you sign up to do a run, that's one more reason to get there and run."

In addition to sponsors such as DH Moving and Storage, Lisa Dickey of ReMax, Peace-a-Pizza, Atwater's, Narcissus Salon, Fleet Feet, Marino Plumbing and Nick's Fish House, she also credited the volunteers who stood in the rain directing the runners and manned the tables in the gymnasium at the finish line.

"I had a wonderful group of volunteers who took the idea and ran with it," she said.

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