Despite chilly spring temperatures and the overcast skies, hundreds of runners and an equal number of fans lined the sidewalks of downtown Westminster for the 30th running of the Main Street Mile on Wednesday evening.
The traditional event usually coincides with the arrival of spring — as if runners race downtown to spread the word that warmer temperatures and spring flowers are on their way.
The run has grown in recent decades and now attracts runners and families from all over the mid-Atlantic region. The event features teamwork of downtown merchants, Westminster Road Runners Club, Westminster Volunteer Fire Department, the police department and fire police, and scores of volunteers.
The event dates back to 1981 when it was started by the late Terry Burk and McDaniel College running enthusiasts Dr. Sam Case and the late Dr. David Herlocker, who passed away in 2008.
It features a fast — all downhill — mile run, starting at the top of East Main Street at Fair Avenue and following Main Street west to the Westminster Library — with a total vertical drop of 144 feet.
As is tradition, the race is run in two parts. Some 218 runners ran in the competitive run, which took-off first at 7 p.m., announced this year by the booming bell of the Westminster Clock Tower.
A train came through town just after the race, seemingly added for ambiance.
The competitive heat was won at a blazing time 4:05 by Ed Aramayo, 24, of Baltimore; followed by Brian Leiter, 23, of New Windsor, who crossed the finish line just behind Aramayo with a time of 4:07.
Pushing Aramayo and Leiter along was third-place finisher, Ryan Spangler, 18, with a time of 4:08.
The first female contestant to cross the finish line was Kris Simms of Baltimore with a time of 4:35.
The second female runner was Diane Heiser, of Baltimore at 4:40, followed by the third place female runner, Megan Digregorio of White Marsh with a time of 5:05.
The fastest known Maryland State Trooper in this year's race was Laura Beck, of Westminster, with a time of 6:39, followed by Major Scott Yinger, of Westminster, with a time of 7:02 — not bad for the former Westminster barrack commander and state police veteran who is just months away from retirement. His wife, Charlene — the race with a time of 7:39.
Two of the more senior runners in this year's festivities were Tami Graf, who crossed the finish line at 8:39 seconds at 74 years young.
She was followed by Yvonne Aasen, who at age 79 and finished with a time of 9:49.
Some 600 runners raced in the second portion of the race event, the Connor Smith Memorial Fun Run, which features children ages 10 and under.
This year the fun run was won by 10-year old Caroline Absher, of Sandymount Elementary School in Finksburg, who blazed across the finish line effortlessly.
“This is my fourth race,” said Caroline, as she detailed the race and carefully spelled-out her name with the composure of a veteran roadrunner.
At the awards ceremony in the engine bays of the Westminster Fire Department, veteran race director Beth Weisenborn said, “As you know, our fun run is dedicated to Connor Smith, a young runner who loved to run down Main Street to get his medal and ice cream …”
In 2007, Connor died from a previously unknown heart condition while competing in the Main Street Mile.
More than 1,100 ice cream sandwiches were given away by Tom and Chris Reese, and Liuda Galinaitis along with several other long-standing volunteers under the watch of Westminster fire police officers Bob Ruby and Kenny Carlisle, who along with fire fighters Mike Garber, Jim Eckard, and Bryan Van Fossen, were observed later helping finish-up a few leftovers.
Weisenborn thanked the sponsors for year's race — Flying Feet, Carchex, Lucidity Research, If the Shoe Fits and Ullrich Photo. She also noted that the professional timing for the race was taken care of by Robert Hall of MdTiming.com of LaVale.
At the awards ceremony, Weisenborn noted, “Every year we give out an award to the school with the most students registered for the Main Street Mile. This year the school award goes to William Winchester Elementary School with 127 participants.”
Other schools with 20 or more participants included Eldersburg, Faith Christian, Linton Springs, Westminster and Hernwood elementary schools.
After handing-out a long list of prizes and awards, Weisenborn announced that she is handing over the race director reins to Sandy Montgomery next year.
Find the complete race results HERE.
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