The Howard County Striders and Montgomery County Road Runners Club have their annual Brighton Dam challenge, in which the neighboring clubs vie for bragging rights in a 7-mile road race.
And the Renaissance AllSports Athletic Club annually issues a challenge to running clubs across the state in the JFK 50-Miler in Boonsboro.
But come the last Sunday in February, Road Runners Club of America affiliates in Maryland and the District of Columbia stage the area's most prized club competition -- the 10-mile Maryland-District of Columbia RRCA Challenge.
For the second straight year, the Baltimore Road Runners Club, led by overall winners Robert Yara and Stacey Nicholson, ran away with championships in the male, female and combined divisions. A club's first 14 male finishers and first three females are counted in the cross country-style team scoring. Baltimore beat Howard in the male division, 182-323; in the female division, 10-29; and in the combined, 192-352.
Yara crossed the finish line at Howard Community College first in 52 minutes, 54 seconds -- a second ahead of teammate and second-place finisher Jack Peach.
"Robert [Yara] made a move on us around 6 [miles]," Peach said about the pack of runners that went out together in the first half of the race. "He waited for me [200 yards from the finish]. All of a sudden, I saw him standing there. I thought I had either passed the finish line or made a wrong turn. I was working so hard to catch him that I was surprised to see him standing there."
If not for third-place finisher Ken Fowler, who ran for the host Howard County Striders club, fourth-place runner Scott Douglas also might have seen Yara standing there. Fowler finished seven seconds behind Peach.
"If Kenny hadn't been there with us, I probably would have waited for Scott," Yara said.
Team scores and top individuals among the 239 men and 52 women who finished: