On July 8, the last day of the Great Heat Wave of 2012, the Howard County Striders held the annual Women's Distance Festival 5k at and around Howard Community College. Race-day entrant Anna Helt-Gosselin, from Vienna, Va., confessed she was "pretty used to the heat" and immediately took the lead. She flashed through the first mile in 5:32, and by that time, the rest of the competition was history. The MIT graduate cruised through the remaining two miles to win in 17:45.
"I've never run an all-woman race," said Helt-Gosselin, who owns a personal record of 17:10 in 5k road races.
But local favorite UnSong Ostrowski certainly tried her best to press Helt-Gosselin. Although she finished a distant second in 18:26, she did set a personal 5k record. The lead runner went out so fast and hard that Ostrowski and the others "just let her go."
By the first mile, Ostrowski was running in fourth place, but she gradually worked her way up to second.
The top masterwoman, 41-year-old Kelly Westlake, didn't carry a watch and didn't know her finish time. But surprisingly, she ran exactly the same time (18:56) that she ran at Damien's 5k last month. "Well, at least I'm consistent," said Westlake, who placed fourth overall.
The top grandmaster woman, 53-year-old Pat Wilkerson, finished eighth overall, and she would have finished seventh except 18-year-old Tiffany Lang sprinted past her right at the finish line. Announcer Dave Tripp saw them coming and said over the loudspeaker, "Here comes Tiffany Lang and Pat Wilkerson — the young and the old!"
"I just love him," Wilkerson said.
The event also featured a mother-daughter team competition. Tiffany Lang (20:14) teamed up with her mom Vicki (21:17) to win the 14+ category. They named their team Gold Diggers for the school colors ofUNC-Charlotte, the school Tiffany will attend later this year on a running scholarship.
For the first time ever, two teams tied for top honors in the 13-U category: the Szalanks (Kelly and Jennifer Szalankiewicz) and Team Cimpatone Vonya (Faye and Michelle Weaver). Both teams scored nine points.
Even in the brutal heat, nearly 400 women completed the race, including about 100 from the Striders' Females In Training program. Since April, the FIT women have been training under coaches Bev Byron and Missy Burger. The FIT women graduated to "real runners" by finishing the 5k race.
"Whoo! I'm glad that one is over," Byron said. "We told them to just finish and not worry about their times."
Tacy Powers directed the race, which is part of a nationwide series of Women's Distance Festival 5k's held every summer.
Overall: 1. Anna Holt-Gosselin, 17:45; 2. UnSong Ostrowski, 18:26; 3. Sherry Stick, 18:41.
Masterwoman: 1. Kelly Westlake, 18:56.
Grandmasterwoman: 1. Pat Wilkerson, 20:17.
1-9 years old: 1. Erika Mosley, 34:22; 2. Michelle Weaver, 34:49; 3. Greta Olsen, 36:54.
10-14: 1. Natalie Perkins, 26:02; 2. Isabel Pineo, 26:03; 3. Layla Ghaffari, 32:44.
15-19: 1. Tiffany Lang, 20:14; 2. Jillian Stoddard, 21:05; 3. Lexi Gilmore, 26:21.
20-24: 1. Samantha Matthews, 19:37; 2. Casey Wilson, 24:18; 3. Katelyn Jurney, 26:46.
25-29: 1. Jessica Ivy, 20:18; 2. Heidi Shoemaker, 25:11; 3. Lindsey Burns, 25:14.
30-34: 1. Kendra Smith, 20:29; 2. Tiffany Hevner, 20:58; 3. Jessica Hein, 21:09.
35-39: 1. Ellie McManuels, 21:56; 2. Meredith Kefauver-Olsen, 22:09; 3. Amy N., 23:32.
40-44: 1. Vicki Lang, 21:17; 2. Norah MacPhee, 22:03; 3. Gretchen Tucker, 22:40.
45-49: 1. Robyn Humphrey, 19:49; 2. Maureen Hall, 22:01; 3. Tammy Liu-Hermstein, 22:34.
50-54: 1. Janeth Scott, 21:15; 2. Dorothy Beckett, 21:23; 3. Gloria Santarpia, 23:43.
55-59: 1. Laura Schneider, 27:14; 2. Geysah DePalma, 27:54; 3. Kris Novak, 29:36.
60-64: 1. Patricia Rubini, 27:50; 2. Kathleen McMahon, 34:17; 3. Vera Gibbs, 36:46.
65-99: 1. Clare Imholtz, 31:25; 2. Sandy Queen, 34:07; 3. Yvonne Aasen, 38:44.
Mother-Daughter (13-U): 1. (tie) Szalanks (Kelly and Jennifer Szalankiewicz) and Team Cimpatone Vonya (Faye and Michelle Weaver), 9 points; 3. Small But Mighty (Meredith Kefauver-Olsen and Greta Olsen), 11.
Mother-Daughter (14+): 1. Gold Diggers (Tiffany and Vicki Lang), 5; 2. Remembering Kirsten (Sarah Anderson and Laura Schneider), 12; 3. Bob's Babes (Lindsey and Nancy Burns), 19.