Kevin Ruch, the winner of Sunday's 17th annual Constellation Classic 10K, counts himself among the "Hagerstown guys," a group coached by Greg Shank that includes Men's U.S. Olympic Marathon team member Steve Spence, U.S. Olympic Marathon Trial qualifier Chris Fox and former Constellation winner Maria Pazarentzos.
"It's about an hour and fifteen minute drive down there," said Ruch, 27, a hospital account representative who lives in Camp Hill, Pa., "but every weekend when there's not a race, I go down there and train with them. I'm considered one of the Hagerstown guys. If you train with them on a regular basis, it's bound to raise your level of competition."
Ruch, whose personal record for 10 kilometers is 29 minutes, 25 seconds at the Penn Relays, won Sunday's Constellation in 30:47. "I've been quicker on the roads, but I don't count road times."
In that respect, Ruch is unique because he has excelled on the roads, especially when he is running with a member of the Hagerstown contingent.
"From a financial standout, it's better when one of them isn't in the race, but from a competitive standpoint, I become a better runner when a runner like Chris Fox is.
"I think my best distances are 10 miles and 15K," Ruch said. "Fox and I ran 44:15 [at Allegany in 1991, when Fox won the race]. I went 29 flat through the 10K, and pretty much kept the pace. The year before that, when I won, I ran 44:25."
Area runners might be seeing Ruch again because he is in the process of choosing between the Bel Air Town Run or the Lancaster Red Rose 5-miler.
"They're both on the same day," he said.
After that, he hopes to run the Shelter Island 10K in New York City.
"It's one of those races I've been running since I was a kid," Ruch said. "I've run it every year since I was a senior in high school except the year when my first child was born. It's one of those races that means a lot."
* NOTES: Runners who don't mind traveling a bit to get to races might want to note two out-of-town races: the third annual Winterthur 5K on a TAC-certified course through the Winterthur garden in Wilmington, Del., on Sunday, and the inaugural Glenn Brenner 5K Run through Washington on June 7. The Brenner run is named after the late Channel 9 sportscaster who died of brain cancer in January. For information on the Winterthur run, call (800) 448-3883, and for details on the Brenner run, call (202) 895-5970.
Thursday, Veryfine Briefcase Run 4K, Washington, (800) 824-1642.
Thursday, RASAC Track Races, Bel Air High School, 6:30 p.m., (410) 838-3364.
Sunday, RASAC Aberdeen Centennial 5K, Aberdeen, 8 a.m. (410) 272-1600.
Sunday, Winterthur 5K Run, Wilmington, Del., 9 a.m., (800) 448-3883.
Sunday, Columbia Triathlon (1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run), Columbia, (410) 730-3880.
June 5, MCRRC Go for the Gold Track Meet, Rockville, 8 p.m., (301) 353-0200.