“Everyone was miserable, but somehow, we had a good time.”
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 14:51

Runners braved heavy rain, high winds and cold temperatures to spend a Sunday morning running in the inaugural Dundalk Challenge 5K race.

 

DUNDALK CHALLENGE 5K

Inaugural race battles the elements for a successful debut

Dulaney grad snags top prize for his PTSA

by Bill Gates

    When you call your race the Dundalk “Challenge,” well, you’re really kind of asking for it, aren’t you?
    The inaugural Dundalk Challenge 5K race went off on Sunday under conditions that wouldn’t have been out of place among the trials of Hercules.
    Runners braved heavy rain, high winds and cold temperatures to spend a Sunday morning running 3.1 miles.
    And perhaps earn anywhere from $500 to $1,500 for their high school’s PTSA.
    “The event’s name couldn’t have been more fitting,” said Paul Rosenberger, one of the race organizers. “We were amazed by the good nature of people who competed in really trying conditions.”
    Graham Peck, 24, was both the overall winner of the race and the first PTSA “champion” to cross the finish line.
    Winning the race earned Peck a $250 Mars Supermarkets gift certificate, while being the first champion earned a $1,500 check for the Dulaney High PTSA.
    Joel Brusewitz, representing Catonsville High, was the second PTSA “champion” to finish (he was fifth overall) and won $750 for the Catonsville PTSA.
    John Roemer was the third champion to finish (eighth overall) and earned $500 for the Hereford High PTSA.
    The money was donated by Mars Supermarkets and the DRC.
    “I talked to two of the winning schools’ PTSA presidents, and they were so grateful and inspired by our little race,” said Dundalk High PTSA president Maxine Erickson.
    “I think we did a whole lot more than just raise some money. I think we opened a few eyes and improved Dundalk’s reputation, even if just a little.”
    For the Dundalk Challenge 5K, each Baltimore County High School PTSA could enter a champion — student, faculty member or parent of a student — to represent them in the race and compete for the three cash prizes.
    There were 126 people registered for the race, and 89 finishers.
    Placing right behind Peck was 2013 Dundalk High graduate James Gonzales, who took second in 16:51 to Peck’s 16:48.
    Brian Leiter, 26, finished third in 16:59, followed by Dundalk resident Chris Sufczynski, 22, in 17:53.
    The top women’s finisher, Megan Digregario, 25, finished sixth overall with a time of 19:56.
    Digregario chose to enter the race on Sunday morning even knowing what the conditions were like.
    “My dad [Dave] called me at 7 a.m. and asked if I wanted to come to a race with him,” said Digregario, who ran for Perry Hall High and Towson University.
    “It was a last-minute decision. When I saw how hard it was raining, I figured, well, I’m already here.”
    While the top three finishers ran as a pack for most of the race, drafting off of each other and using each other for wind breaks, Digregorio spent the majority of the race running by herself.
    “The rain was more like sleet, and it hurt my eyes,” she said. “I sometimes ran with my eyes closed, but, being by myself with no one ahead of me to follow, I really had to pay attention to the course.”
    One part of that course was running up the Sollers Point Road hill. Which, naturally, was into the wind.
    “With my eyes closed, it felt like I was running in place,” she said.
    That hill posed a different problem for Peck, Gonzales and Leiter.
    A “pace bike” — a race volunteer on a bicycle — was to lead the group of runners through the course, which started on the CCBC Dundalk campus, went down Sollers Point Road and through the community below the campus, came back up Sollers Point Road and circled the CCBC Dundalk campus before finishing on the Dundalk High/Sollers Point Tech parking lot.
    Coming back up the Sollers Point Road hill, the three leaders passed the pace bike — and it never caught back up with them.
    “We lost the pace bike on the uphill,” Peck said. “It’s harder for bikes to go uphill.”
    Because of that, the top three weren’t sure of the course. But, with the help of volunteers stationed along the way, they made the right turns at the right times.
    Until the end, when Peck and Gonzales misjudged the finish line.
    “We saw what we thought was the finish line, weren’t sure of the course, and sprinted the last 100 meters,” Peck said. “Then we realized we still had 300 meters to go.”
    Peck said that probably helped him hold off Gonzales, who used up his reserves in that premature kick.
    Gonzales, who won regional and county titles for Dundalk High in cross country and track and currently runs for York College, said he got a “little confused” near the end.
    “When you’re in a race, it’s hard to ask where to go,” he said. “Still, this was a good race.”
    The race featured many local residents and Dundalk High students and faculty.
    Full results are online at www.dundalkchallenge.org; click on the “results” link on the home page.
    Erickson thanked everyone who entered and helped with the race.
    “Who knew it was going to be that miserable?” Erickson said. “And to stand outside in that mess for over three hours, chilled to our bones, at least an inch of water in our shoes, numb fingers and toes, paper waterlogged, pens refusing to work, wind throwing water cups around, icy rain pelting as you tried to direct the runners ... everyone was miserable, but, somehow, we had a good time.”