Women are the stars in midnight fun run

July 11, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

For her first time in the Women's Distance Festival Midnight Fun Run, Catherine Hann walked her way through the 5-kilometer race.

Next year, the 70-year-old Sparks woman said she plans to run to the finish line.

Mrs. Hann joined 490 other women who participated in the annual race around The Mall in Columbia that started Friday at midnight and finished in the wee hours of Saturday. This year, the number of participants set a record, organizers said.

"I think it's marvelous," said Mrs. Hann, who completed the race along with her 42-year-old daughter and 15-year-old granddaughter.

Mrs. Hann, flanked by her family, won applause for her efforts from runners and spectators as she collected an award as the oldest participant in the race.

"She looks great for a 70-year-old," said one man. "She looks great, period."

Pat Brooks, spokeswoman for the fun run, said the event began 14 years ago, at a time when organizers of many races believed women were too frail to run alongside men in long-distance races.

The fun run is now one of many races around the country designed to promote women's athletics and fitness, said Ms. Brooks of Columbia. But it's among only a handful of women's races held at midnight.

The race attracted women of all ages, from girls in elementary school to grandmothers. They came from Baltimore, Washington, even Virginia.

The race's top finisher collected a medal for finishing the run -- just over three miles -- in 17 minutes and 10 seconds. The last of the participants crossed the finish line about 30 minutes later.

But to many participants, the race is not about finishing in record time. It's about fun.

Some said they liked the fun run for the camaraderie. Others explained they wanted to participate because the race gave them a chanceto run at night without fearing for their safety.

The fun run resembled other races -- except for the moon and the stars.

The runners huffed and puffed their way around the mall's parking lot as sweat poured from them. The patter of running shoes on the asphalt echoed as runners grasped for cups of water, and the 300 spectators cheered them on.

After the race, the women snacked on fruit, vegetables and breads. Some treated themselves to massages to ease aching muscles. Therunners grouped together to relive the thrill of crossing the finish line. A few snapped photographs to remember the race and one another.

Kit Scally, a long-distance walker from Ellicott City, said the fun run is often like a reunion, giving participants a chance to renew friendshipseach year.

"I like the camaraderie of it all," Ms. Scally said.

Gale Drapala, a Dallas resident working in Baltimore temporarily, couldn't resist the chance to participant in the fun run.

"I thought this was such a silly thing to do," said Ms. Drapala. "Run? At midnight?"

Ms. Drapala -- who described herself as a "plodder," not a runner -- entered the race at the urging of Sue Lathroum, a co-worker at the Health Care Finance Administration.

"I told her it was the funnest thing to do," said Ms. Lathroum of Catonsville.

Laura Van Scoyoc of Silver Spring ran in the race for the first time. She brought along her boyfriend, Barry Lloyd of Columbia.

"I think it's great," Mr. Lloyd said. "This gives women an opportunity to run without having to elbow their way through the men."

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