Show up for race, stay for the food

Clyde's: The Columbia restaurant throws its annual bash -- a 6.2-mile run rewarded by a big party.

April 20, 2005|By Kara Eide | Kara Eide,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Clyde's American 10K run is more than just a 6.2-mile run through Columbia.

It's a party.

Fifty gallons of chili, seven kegs of beer and lots of chicken, pasta and strawberries. Big strawberries. Two disc jockeys blasting songs such as "Soul Man" and "Love Shack" to get everyone in the mood.

And this is before 10 a.m.

From toddlers in strollers to senior citizens, the crowd at Sunday's race was soaking up the spectacular sunny morning and festive atmosphere on at banks of Lake Kittamaqundi in Town Center.

"It's the kick-off day for summer activities," said Dee Bumbera, a Columbia resident who ran the 10K with her husband, daughter and brother.

Known for its hilly course and grand after-party, the event -- in its 27th year -- attracted 1,142 runners and their families and friends.

"Anyone can run in it. The best runners come, and we come," Bumbera said. "They feed the community -- everyone comes out for it."

Indeed, Clyde's employees and volunteers were prepared with a seemingly endless supply of post-race food and drink, including fresh fruit, energy drinks, breakfast bars and cookies.

"This is what draws us to the race," said Kristin Scarola, 30, a Howard County teacher. "It's a great race, but a really great after-party!"

Clyde's Restaurant, the Columbia dining mainstay, sponsors the event and charges $22 for advance registration and $30 on race day. Tina Weissmueller, a manager for Clyde's and the next-door Tomato Palace, and the 10K event coordinator, said all the money goes toward the cost of the event.

"It's just gotten so big and expensive," she said. "In the end, it's just a community tradition now."

And certainly, the post-race party is as much a part of this 10K as the race itself.

"My father comes for the chili," said Bumbera. "He watches the kids, and cheers us."

As if on cue, Bumbera's father, Dave Lyons, walked up and affirmed his delight in Clyde's chili, as well as the orange slices and bananas, and of course, watching the kids run.

Thirteen-year-old Molly Bumbera and her buddy, Elana Donald, 12, ran the race for the first time.

"My parents have been doing it, so I thought maybe I should, too," said Molly, whose parents grew up in Columbia and have been running this race since the 1980s.

Although they had never run 6.2 miles before, the girls expressed certainty that they could do it. Before the race, they stretched confidently and recalled how "pumped up" they got when they started thinking about it last year.

Dee Bumbera was proud to have her daughter participating. "It's fun to have my family do it," she said. "It's something you start with your kids, and hopefully they'll pick it up and it'll be a way of life for them."

Families weren't the only participants of this community run. Near the Bumberas, three college freshmen from Towson University stretched together. All three wore forehead sweatbands with the word "Blest."

It is a catchphrase for the three of them, said Kelly Caprarola, 18, a former student of Mount Hebron High School. He and his buddies are in their 10th week of training for a half-marathon, and decided to incorporate the Clyde's 10K into their training. Caprarola and his friends said they heard about the Clyde's race through their training program, called the LEAD Strong Challenge.

Caprarola and his friends said they're glad they decided to take up this effort together and work toward a goal. "I love not sitting around -- just being active, not being lazy," said Dave Frank, 19, from New Jersey.

They said they've been "blest" with the ability to run. "I just feel blessed to be able to come out here and run this," said Evan Allen, also 18 and a Mount Hebron graduate.

At the starting line at 8:15 a.m., the runners took off from in front of Clyde's on Little Patuxent Parkway, headed south. They made their way around the mall, then turned onto Governor Warfield Parkway before getting back on to Little Patuxent. From there they made a left onto Columbia Road, then another left to climb a long hill on Route 108. They came back to Town Center via Running Brook Road, which led them to Little Patuxent and a final downhill stretch to the finish line.

Residents came out to support the runners, and volunteers offered water at three stations.

The oldest runner, 88-year-old Nosratollah Ighani of Silver Spring, brought up the rear at 1 hour, 36 minutes and 19 seconds.

At 33:53, Mike Colaiacovo, 35, came in first. "It's my first good win in awhile," said Colaiacovo. "I was excited about it."

Colaiacovo, a federal agent for the U.S. Postal Service, said he was boosted by a desire to remain competitive as he ages. "I'm one of those older guys that runs," he said. "I train pretty hard. I try to keep up with the younger guys as best as I can."

For training, Colaiacovo, who moved to Maryland from the Virginia Beach area in October, said he focused on hills, especially because he wasn't accustomed to them.

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