It has been 12 years since I last participated in the Annapolis Striders Championship Series.
Melissa Currence is to blame for setting me on that path and for that I am grateful. Unfortunately, life took over and the next 10 years, try as I might, something always got in the way.
I had almost given up on the chance of ever running the series again. But when I sat down this year with the race schedule and my calendar, I realized—barring accidents and unforeseen mommy duties—I could do it.
No vacations, marathons, triathlons or major family events were standing in my way. Finally, I was able to make my return to the series.
The eight-part race series started in January with a 5k in Severna Park and continued throughout the year with races ranging in distance from a 1-mile track run to the 16-mile Metric Marathon.
Races are held in Severna Park, Pasadena, Annapolis, Harwood and Arnold and attract runners from as far away as Howard and Queen Annes counties. Most of the committed runners are residents of Anne Arundel County and all are members of the Annapolis Striders.
And at just $20 for all eight races, the series is difficult for serious runners to resist.
Each year the final race of the season is the Anniversary Run 15k held in Quiet Waters Park on the second Sunday of the month, insuring it will be one of the coldest races of the season.
This year’s race was no exception. Runners hurried from their cars into the pavilion for registration and back to their cars to wait for the start.
True to form though, every one of the nearly 300 participants at this year’s race found their temperatures rising as they made their way up the first big hill just before the 1-mile marker.
The race is a two-loop course through the well-marked bicycle trails. Most runners agreed it is one of the most technical courses in the series, with runners having to watch their footing because of uneven pavement, while maneuvering the twists and turns that came almost as fast as the hills.
This year’s race was won by Mike Insler in a blistering 52:40:44 for the men and Candice Dickson in a scorching 1:02:34:48 for the women.
And because the series calls for runners to complete at least six of the eight races and ranks runners based on their performance in their top six races, the slower, but still dedicated, runners have a chance to earn awards at the end of the season.
More than 480 members registered for the series. Most of those members completed at least one of the races over the year. But, in the end, only 147 members completed at least six races to qualify for awards at the yearly banquet.
Still fewer members completed all eight races in the series. By completing all eight races this season, 55 members qualified for the IronMan Award.
I managed to toe the line at each of the eight races. And though not all of the finishes were pretty, I managed to finish each of them, as well. With a busy race and life schedule, I was amazed that I was actually able to accomplish this.
But looking over the results I am even more amazed by the number of people who have completed this series year in and year out for more than 20 years.
Jim Etchison and Patrick Donahue have completed the series 22 times each. Tom Bradford has completed the series 23 times, Will Meyers has completed the series 25 times and Matt Mace has completed it 26 years in a row.
Receiving an award at the Annual Banquet this year will be the icing on the cake for my racing year. The cake itself has been each and every race, not just the miles run, but the people who I have had a chance to run with.
When it comes down to it, it is the chance to meet and mingle with fellow runners that makes the series really worth the effort.