Masked and caped, runners help a cause

October 29, 2007|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN REPORTER

You felt awkward walking to last year's Halloween party in your bunny outfit? Thought driving in your mummy costume was tricky?

Try running nearly four miles dressed as a sumo wrestler.

Dan Parry can tell you - from personal experience during yesterday's XTERRA Gwynns Falls Trail Run - it isn't easy.

Parry, a 46-year-old computer specialist, couldn't put down his arms because of the inflatable layer of skin. And after finishing the 6K, Parry said, "It was pretty hot, too."

But he and others - including a Batman and Catwoman, a Green Giant and a skeleton - said the Halloween apparel added an element of silliness to the race, a fundraiser for the Gwynns Falls Trail Council.

Jennifer Mielke, a 34-year-old city housing authority employee, wore a purple prom dress over her running clothes. The gown actually belonged to her roommate, Tom DeWire, who was dressed as "Magnum PI," with short shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, lei, and a wig of thick, Tom Selleck-like hair beneath his baseball cap.

"I thought this would make it more fun," said DeWire, a 28-year-old city schools worker who wore the outfit to a Halloween party last year.

During the race, other runners started referring to Mielke as the "fairy godmother." She did, after all, have a wand - actually a very chewed-up cat toy she borrowed from her pet.

"I started waving it at people, then they sprinted off ahead of me," said Mielke. "I should've sprinkled a little magic on myself."

Still, Mielke finished in the middle of the group and said, "It was a good run."

That reaction was exactly what organizers were hoping for when they planned the event.

"We wanted people to get to know the trail here," said William F. Eberhart Jr., chairman of the Gwynns Falls Trail Council. "It's really an undiscovered gem."

The Gwynns Falls Trail begins in Leakin Park and features about 14 miles of paths to the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River and to the Inner Harbor. Together, Gwynns Falls and Leakin parks comprise about 1,200 acres of forests, streams and open spaces. An extension to the Interstate 70 Park & Ride is under construction and will formally open probably in June, said Eberhart.

The trail system is part of the third-largest urban wilderness park in the country, said Jacqueline M. Carrera, executive director of the Parks and People Foundation.

The race was designed to be "a little more creative, rugged and unique - not your typical start-to-finish race," said Carrera.

The event was set apart by the costumes and the distance - 6K rather than the usual 5K for short races.

About 150 runners participated in yesterday's race. Most, including Parry's 14-year-old son, Nate, chose to leave their masks at home.

Karyn Fisher, a 32-year-old mother of three from Towson, was busy getting herself and her fan club, including children ages 4, 2 1/2 and 1 1/2 - ready for the race.

Since it was her first race, Fisher said, "I was already nervous. I didn't want to stress about finding my tiger ears."

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