Runners celebrating 25th Clyde's 10K race

PLAYING AROUND

Howard At Play

April 13, 2003|By LOWELL E. SUNDERLAND

IF YOU get to Columbia's Town Center early this morning, under the bridge linking the mall and the lakefront office buildings, you'll witness a silver anniversary - the 25th annual running of the Clyde's 10-kilometer footrace, the Howard County Striders' hallmark springtime event.

Weather, a couple of notable attractions and word-of-mouth willing, the number of runners will top last year's 1,327, said River's Edge resident Charlie Brown, race director for the second year. He is hoping the field will top 1,500 as the club tries to build participation back in this event to the 2,000-or-better level it once had.

But the Clyde's race typifies what has been happening in recent years across the country, with fewer 10K events and fewer people showing up for them. Brown also was worrying last week about the impact of today being Palm Sunday, a scheduling conflict that is a fluke of the calendar, for the Clyde's race has traditionally been run a week before the Boston Marathon. And that's on Easter Monday this year.

One of the pulls locally, of course, is a post-race brunch put on by the sponsoring restaurant, Clyde's, which faces Lake Kittamaqundi, not far from the start/finish line.

"I always had a great time at the Clyde's race," said Woodbine's Eustace Hallowell, who worked for the restaurant when the Striders, then a much smaller club, wanted to have a spring 10K race.

The restaurant, along with then-builder Diversified Homes, co-sponsored the first race, said Hallowell, now 65 and retired but until "three or four years ago" a runner in every Clyde's event.

"It's clearly been a good relationship for the restaurant, too," said Hallowell, who offered the club an array of souvenir T-shirts from the race, dating to the beginning.

The Striders are providing for the second time another gate-builder that is a hot topic among serious runners these days. Timing will be done in a high-tech way, using a computer chip tied to one of each runner's shoes. Today's entry fee includes a small rental charge, and the chips must be returned at race's end.

The ChampionChip - a flat, glass token about the size of a quarter and containing a tiny computer chip - is made by a Dutch company. The magnetically operated device denotes the runner and his or her time in milliseconds as the chip-bearing shoe crosses the start, finish and other junctures in a race. It eliminates possible variables of hand-timing a race.

The maker says the technology, first tried in 1994, has been used at major international marathons in New York, Boston, London, Berlin, Moscow, Tokyo, Cape Town and Buenos Aires, among others. It has also been used at the famed Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.

Among other advantages, the chip eliminates the time differential of getting to the start line once the gun goes off, a minor factor because of the small size of today's field in Columbia. But, as Brown noted, it could mean a 10-minute differential in large fields such as those at big-time marathons that draw 10,000 runners or more.

"It can change the dynamics of a race," said Brown, "because with everyone just racing the clock, it can alter the strategy that some runners use during a race. Some like it, some don't."

Things change when anyone or, it seems, any event survives to mark its 25th anniversary.

Along the sidelines

BASKETBALL: The Howard County Youth Program's Sharks, a team of 12-and-under boys, went 37-3 this season, with the cherry-on-top of winning two league titles and being age-group champion in the 30th annual Bengal Classic tournament in Bustleton, Pa.

Coach Jerry Foley, center Steve Brinkley (most valuable player), Willie Macatee and Nick Rivers got all-tournament honors.

DUATHLON: Three members of a new, county-based team competing in this running-cycling niche sport have qualified already for age-group spots on the U.S. duathlon team that will compete in the annual world championships in Affoltern, Switzerland in August. The team, called Du2R Multisport, was founded by Ellicott City resident Don Forgione.

The three, who competed in last year's world meet in suburban Atlanta, qualified for this year's event based on times registered March 30 in competition near Birmingham, Ala.

Jeff Timm of Bethlehem, Pa., was first in the 50-54 age group for men. Frederick's Linda Boring and Laytonsville's Jan Tripp were runners-up in the 35-39 and 50-54 age groups, respectively, for women.

Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or send e-mail to lowell.sunderland@baltsun.com.

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