WESTMINSTER -- The 14th Annual Twilight Series came to a dramatic close Thursday night as the men's portion of the summer-long, six-race event came down to the final race.
Larry Pickett's third-place finish in the Sullivan Road 10-Mile Run earned him his second series men's title -- winning by one-half point over runner-up Paul Hannsen.
Jenny Caple had already clinched her second consecutive women's title by winning the fifth race -- the Sells Mills 8-Mile Run -- a week earlier. Dave Lowe and Judi Bullock were the top masters finishers.
"I knew going in [Thursday's race] I had to finish within one spot of Paul," said Pickett, who did just that as Hannsen took second behind winner Andy Passmore.
"I felt I ran a good race. I was surprised I was able to run it that fast [57:03]. I was fortunate Andy ran the race. I think if Paul had won, he would have taken the series."
The difference in the Westminster Road Runners-sponsored series came in the Camp Hashawha Three Mile Trail Run -- the third race of the series. After two races, Pickett and Hannsen were tied for the overall lead as both had a win and second-place finish under their belts.
Pickett, a resident of Belcamp, Harford County, won the Camp Hashawha Run, while Hannsen finished sixth. "He [Hannsen] made a critical mistake by running barefoot. In the shorter races, he prefers to run barefooted. He stayed with me for the first half of the race, but had to slow down as the course got rougher," said Pickett.
Caple had an easier time clinching her second straight women's title, winning three of the five races she competed in.
After finishing second in the series opening Western Maryland College Two Mile Track Run, she enjoyed wins in the Pleasant Valley Four Mile Run, the Camp Hashawha run and the win in the Sells Mills run.
Lowe and Bullock dominated the masters portion, both winning every race they participated in.
The Twilight Series began in 1978, a couple of years after the Westminster Road Runners Club was formed. The club also sponsored a Handicap Series which featured six, two-mile races that handicapped the runners.
"If a particular runner was two minutes slower than another, the first runner would get a two-minute head start," said Frank Schaeffer, who until this year ran in every race of the series.
Schaeffer said the "heyday" of the club was in the mid-1980's when 60 to 70 runners would race regularly. The older runners have remained while fewer younger runners have joined the club. "Over the recent years we've had a pretty standard group of 30 to 40 runners," he said. "We've all kind of aged together. It's the kind of thing where you look forward to training and competing against one another. It's a good way to relax and unwind and pass the time."