The Steeplechasers held their 2022 Annual Awards Banquet at the Arc of Frederick County on Saturday January 28, 2023. 108 people were in attendance. The banquet recognizes Steeplechasers who have had an exceptional year of running or service. The Competition Committee solicits nominations for awards each year, and combs through the submissions to select award recipients. 

Find out more about this year’s award recipients!

Runner of the year (Male), Dan Jacobs: Dan is no stranger to the podium, as he was the 2021 FSRC Male Rising Star. In 2022, he was the top Overall Male in the Grand Prix Series and was 2nd Male in the Equalizer Series. He was the Overall Winner at the Frederick Half Marathon in a time of 1:11:59.

Runner of the year (Female), Claire Heasman: After healing from significant surgeries in 2021, Claire came back in 2022 stronger than ever. She completed four PR’s and was the 1st Place Female Winner at the Frederick Summer Solstice, the FSRC Independence 5000, the Spook Hill Cider & Wine 4-Miler, and the Frederick Turkey Trot!

Masters Runner of the Year (Male), Carey Ahr: Carey had an incredible year! On the road he completed two marathons and shaved over 30 minutes off his marathon time! On the trails, and in the “ultra” world he dominated, placing in the top 10 at Night Train 50k, Rick’s Run, Pine Creek 100 Miler, and the Freight Train 100k. His combined times from the Night Train 50k and Freight Train 100k qualified him for 3rd place in the High Bridge Challenge.

Masters Runner of the Year (Female), Kelly Dworak: Kelly had a great racing year. She placed 1st in her age group and 4th Female Overall at the Lewis Memorial 10-Miler and 3rd at the Forest of Needwood 5k. She maintained an age grade consistently over 75%.

Grand Masters Runner of the Year (Male), Lori Shulman: Lori placed top three in her age group in six out of the seven races she completed in the past year, and she placed 1st in her age group for the Gettysburg half marathon.

Grand Masters Runner of the Year (Female), Mike Kearney: Mike Kearney leads the Steeplechasers Racing Team with astounding times and podium finishes. He finished 1st in his age group in nearly every race he ran this year. He also scored an age-graded result over 80% in four of his 5k races.

Super Grand Masters Runner of the Year (Male), John Clarke: John Clarke has been a member of the club since 2008. Since joining the club, he has participated in several half marathon training groups, as well as being one of the regulars at the Frederick High School Sunday run group. While he only ran four Grand Prix races in 2022, his age-graded times range from 70,7% to 84.8%.

Junior Runner of the Year (Male), William Heasman: William is only in middle school, but he is already making big strides. He placed 3rd in the youth category at Market Street Mile and 1st in his age category at Headless Horseman 5k! In 2022 he placed 3rd place amongst all Frederick County 6th graders at the FCPS Cross Country Championship.

Junior Runner of the Year (Female), Caroline Matthews: Caroline Matthews may be young, but she is a force to be reckoned with! She runs on both the Cross Country and Indoor Track Team, excelling in the one-mile and two-mile events. At the most recent state championship, Caroline passed out while running (due to an underlying health condition) but quickly recovered and managed to finish in the top five!

Rising Star (Female), Johanna Homon: Johanna Homon earned a Boston Qualifying time (BQ) with a marathon finish of 3 hours and 28 minutes at the Steamtown Marathon in 2023. She will run the Boston Marathon in April 2024.

Rising Star (Male), Jake Sisler: Jake had a great year of running and was 4th place Overall Male in the Grand Prix Series. He made a name for himself with his running outfits. Not many people can pull off shorts and a singlet like this guy. He was the assistant race director for Market Street Mile in 2022 and has stepped up to be the race director in 2023.

Most Improved Runner (Female), Taylor Ludman Hallock: Taylor went from being a “good” runner in 2021, to one of the top local female runners in 2023. She placed in the top five females in the Frederick Summer Solstice 8k, the Frederick Women’s Distance Festival 5k, and the Frederick Turkey Trot. She was also the 1st Place Female at Freedom’s Run 10k.

Most Improved Runner (Male), George LaDue: George LaDue is using his recent retirement to increase and improve his running. He placed top three in the 65-69 age group at the Indy 5000 and the Spook Hill 4-Miler. He also placed 1st in his age group at the Run for the Pie 10K!

Ironman, Darrel Dorsey Jr.: Darrell Dorsey Jr. had an incredible year with first place finishes at the Dark Side Ultra and Freedom’s Marathon! In May, he ran the Jackson River Marathon, with a finishing time of 2 hours and 55 minutes, earning a BQ. Currently UltraSignup has him age-ranked at 87.63%!

Ironwoman, Farrah Douglas: Farrah was ranked as one of top 50 female 2022 50-mile finishes in Ultra Running Magazine! She ran eight marathons this year, and was the 1st place finisher at Blister in the Sun marathon! Farrah ran every day in 2022 and finished the year with over 2400 miles!

Inspiration, Kim Whalen: There’s no doubt that Kim Whalen is passionate about both the Steeplechasers and running in general. Did you know that she found and joined the Steeplechasers before she had even completed her move to the area? Over the past few years Kim has battled Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but she has not let that stop her! She regularly wakes her friends for morning runs, and inspires them to keep pushing every day.

Inspiration, Risa Clem: Risa had a tough rehabilitation from some serious injuries and surgeries. Her most notable race was a 50k trail run; an early fall in the race resulted in a dislocated shoulder, torn biceps tendon, torn labrum, and she tore her rotator cuff off the bone. Despite these injuries, she managed to finish the race, running over 30 miles, while severely injured. She ended up requiring major shoulder surgery, but that did not stop her from completing the Turkey Trot 5k at the end of the year.

Unsung Hero, Natasha Keogh: As a member of the Finance Committee, most of the work Natasha does is behind the scenes. The big part of her volunteering takes place on Saturday and Sunday mornings, when she assists Mark Lawrence, Race Services Chair. She goes above and beyond by making trips to the storage unit to get supplies before the race and return them afterwards, as well as marking the course, getting the finish line set up, and cleaning up at the end. She does it all with a smile on her face, despite unpredictable weather and technical difficulties. 

Waxter Award, Michelle Jacoby: Michele stepped up this year to serve as head coach for the Spires, the Steeplechasers’ youth running club. She will be continuing in this capacity in 2023, as well as directing the newly revamped Wild Trail 5k/10k!

President’s Award: Leah Perry, Girls on the Run of Mid and Western MD: Leah’s love of running inspired her to start Girls on the Run in Frederick County with Renata Sheyner. In 2012 they started with four teams and 46 girls and coaches. Over the years they have merged with Washington County, as well as expanding to Garrett and Allega ny counties. Girls on the Run is in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The curriculum focuses on the whole girl, which includes academics, physical, and mental health. Leah has impacted the lives of many individuals through  her work with Girls on the Run. She is hard working, dedicated, passionate, and does whatever it takes to make sure that the girls in the program have what they need to be successful. In addition to her work with Girls on the Run, she also volunteers regularly at running events and races. After the birth of her first grandson in 2022, she made the decision to retire from her role as council Director for Girls on the Run Mid & Western Maryland. Rae Gallagher is the new Executive Director. Leah has been helpful with this transition and plans on continuing to volunteer for Girls on the Run and at other running events.