Bob Cawood on running: Recalling the origins of many long-distance events | COMMENTARY – Capital Gazette

Bob Cawood on running: Recalling the origins of many long-distance events | COMMENTARY  Capital Gazette

Long distance running has many benefits, including the time to think about solutions to problems that one doesn’t know exist.

Although endurance runners enjoy solitude, there is still a need for them on occasion to come out of solitary training and run with others in group training or sanctioned racing. Case in point, the first unrecognized need for a local running club during the beginnings of the first running boom.

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Back in the mid-1970s, a long distance run was the catalyst for the creation of the Annapolis Striders, longtime member and former mayor Dick Hillman related. This was before it was normal to see runners plying their trade on the road, before the B&A Trail was a reality and before the nascent Annapolis 10-Mile Run.

All of that was preceded by a race from Severna Park to City Dock that started as a gender challenge between a handful of men and women after a casual remark at a party questioning the capacity of females to run 10 miles, or so the story goes.

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This was when runners were generally seen as odd individuals who likely needed a ride somewhere. The long distance excursion, with the catchy name “West Runs South,” was a solo multi-state journey by Andy West from the northern tip of Maine to Key West to raise funds for muscular dystrophy. The run received national attention and was supported by the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

As an aside, right now many runners are doing runs across the country from north to south, east to west and circumnavigating the country without much media coverage at all, as we have become accustomed to such feats.

The U.S. Jaycees also endorsed West Runs South with the local chapter of the Annapolis Jaycees and other Annapolis-based runners traveling to Baltimore to greet the runner and enjoy a dinner in Little Italy.

West was surprised Annapolis did not have a local running club, Hillman recalled. The following day, some of the locals ran with West from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. and, as will happen during long distance runs, thoughts turned to the creation of a local running club.

Among the Annapolitans was John Butterfield, who just a couple of years prior had competed in the Olympic marathon trials. Coach Ben Moore of Moore’s Marines saw this as an opportunity, putting into action the words of Fugazi: “Here comes another problem, all wrapped up in solution.”

The result was an invitation by Butterfield, a captain stationed at the Naval Academy, to meet in his office a few months later and start the Annapolis Striders. Many times, the run is only part of the fun. Many a group run has solved all of the problems of the world over 20 miles, for after a run of that distance, it is hard not to find common ground on almost any issue.

The 42nd annual Dawson’s Father’s Day 10K was completed last weekend. Organized by the Annapolis Striders, the legacy event did not have the usual heat and humidity of mid-June, with oppressive conditions leading up to the race giving way to beautiful weather.

The sprint from the start at Severna Park High heading north on the B&A Trail to the turnaround and return to the school saw 209 runners finish the race. Unlike last year where the heat and humidity were a factor resulting in the winning time being more than 35 minutes, this year 30-year-old Sean Kelly of Arnold won the race in 33:11 (5:21/mile).

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Nicole Dawson successfully defended her title with a winning time of 40:27 (6:32/mile), shaving more than three minutes off her time in 2021. Those quicker times are further evidence that a fast pace doesn’t always have to do with training; weather can and does play a factor, too.

John Koletty, an 80-year-old Pasadena resident, finished in just under an hour and a half. Meanwhile, there were three finishers in the men’s 70-and-over category Tom Lyden of Bowie taking first in 55:55. He was just over a minute ahead of fellow 72 year old Eric Peltosalo of Annapolis.

Congratulations to all the runners for racing on a great morning on the B&A Trail, and kudos to the Annapolis Striders for continuing this great tradition well into its fourth decade.

July 9: Women’s Distance Festival/Run After the Women (7:45 a.m.), West Annapolis,

Information: www.annapolisstriders.org

July 16: John Wall 1 Mile Run (8 a.m.), Bates Athletic Complex, Information:

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www.annapolisstriders.org

July 23: Endless Summer 6-hour Run (8 a.m.), Greenbury Points, Information:

www.annapolisstriders.org

August 7: Dog Days 8K, Anne Arundel Community College (8 a.m.), Information:

www.annapolisstriders.org

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August 28: Annapolis 10 Mile Run, Information: https://www.annapolisstriders.org/annapolis-10-mile-run/

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September 3: Charles Street 12 Miler (7:30 a.m.), Baltimore, Information:

https://www.charmcityrun.com/calendar/charlesst12

September 10: 36th Annual Amish County BikeTour

Information: https://www.bikede.org/amish-country-bike-tour/#page-content

September 18: Run for the Light House, Quiet Waters Park, Information: AnnapolisRunForTheLightHouse.org.

Send running calendar items to Bob Cawood at rhbc@cawoodlawfirm.com