Award Winners – 2019

GRAND PRIX OVERALL WINNERS

Women

  1. Claire Heasman
  2. Crystal Achuo
  3. Katherine Warehime
  4. Jamie Weisz
  5. Paige Baierl

Men

  1. Arthur Leathers
  2. Michael Geisler
  3. Louis Schiavone
  4. Jesse Henderson
  5. Mark Leahy

GRAND PRIX AGE-GROUP WINNERS

Women

14-29

  1. Meredith Nix
  2. Ameenah Noor
  3. Emilie Meade
  4. Sophie Geernaert
  5. Sylvia Claire Jaworski

30-39

  1. Erica McCann
  2. Lindsey Weaver
  3. Chase Leahy
  4. Megan Hicks
  5. Annie Chavent

40-49

  1. Crystal Tressler
  2. Jill Cameron
  3. Katie Malone
  4. Kibby Powell
  5. Michele Newton

50-59

  1. Ruth Taylor
  2. Kathy Cea
  3. Beverly Black
  4. Pamela Geernaert
  5. Lorraine Sullivan

60-69

  1. Harriet Langlois
  2. Michelle Mitchell

70 & up

  1. Loretta Fahy
  2. Jeanette Novak
  3. Allie Young

Men

14-29

  1. Patrick Orgler

30-39

  1. Chris Dutton
  2. Scott Wallace
  3. Andrew Daniels
  4. Matthew Hicks
  5. Jason Scaroni

40-49

  1. Ken Spore
  2. Chris VanSant
  3. Edwin Marroquin
  4. Jason Stevens
  5. Eric Cameron

50-59

  1. Pete Wergin
  2. John Way
  3. Rick Kern
  4. Eric Eller
  5. John Gardner

60-69

  1. Mike Kearney
  2. Ron Black
  3. Tim O’Keefe
  4. Lou King
  5. Bruce Attavian

70-79

  1. Arthur Gregory
  2. John Clarke
  3. Richard Potter
  4. Jeffrey Jones
  5. Fred Schumaker

GRAND PRIX QUALIFIERS

Amanda Berry, Amanda Golden, Andrea Thompson, Andrew Daniels, Andrew Spangenberg, Anne Shubert, Becky Wilson, Billy Clem, Brady Malone, Brigitte Farrell, Caree Vander Linden, Cari James, Carl Pritchard, Carolyn DiMaria, Christa Long, Craig Combs, Dana Defibaugh, Domingo Gascon, Evette Whisner, Gwyneth Whieldon, Heidi Novak, Herman Smith, James Wolfe, Jean Marie Heim, Jenny Ribecca, John Bille, Jonathan Rowe, Joshua Roane, Joyce Smith, Kimberly Whalen, Lancey Cowan, Laurie Luck, Lynette Whiten, Matt Palm, Maxann Davis, Melissa Sites, Meredith Crow, Michelle Carlin, Patrei Ningen, Rick Kern, Robin McConaughey, Sharon Cofer, Stacy DiFranco, Stephanie Bowers, Sung Pak, Susan Wolfe, Tawanda Johnson, Yvonne Linger, Zainab Abdullah

TRAIL SERIES

4 Events: Craig Combs, Carolyn DiMaria, Steve Dobson, John Duffy, Dee Gager, Kristin Holzschuh, Michelle Mitchell, Angela Papillo, Joshua Roane, John Way

5 Events: Roseann Abdu, Carla Carbis, Mike Geisler, Jim Goetschius, Julie Harris, Crista Horn, Jennifer Mellace, Tim O’Keefe, Ellen Saint Onge, Rylee Schwee, Kerry Shepherd, Ruth Taylor

6 Events: Dan Cardenas, Heidi Novak, Anne Shubert, Christine Stafford, Lindsey Weaver

7 Events: Linda Boring, Nicole Davis, Barb Meely

8 Events: Billy Clem, Kibby Powell

EQUALIZER SERIES

Women

  1. Claire Heasman
  2. Kathy Cea
  3. Ruth Taylor

Men

  1. Pete Wergin
  2. Arthur Leathers
  3. Arthur Gregory

MAJOR AWARDS

Rising Star Women – Paige Baierl

I am honored to be recognizing tonights FSRC Female Rising Star.

In my mind, this individual has always been a rising star in all aspects of her life. She is not only an amazing runner, but she is my running partner, my colleague, my mentee, and most importantly, my Friend. This individual is caring, kind, and will do anything for anyone… always with a smile on her face!

In 2018, after moving to Frederick, she quickly embraced the Steeplechasers running club becoming the 1,000 member to join our club. This past year, she participated in seven of the grand prix FSRC races landing her fifth overall in the grand prix series and second in her age group. During the WDF, she put on the Orange Theory Costume, started in the back, and passed 488 runners, raising 976 additional dollars for the Women’s Giving Circle and finishing seventh overall. She placed 1st female at the 2019 FSRC Lewis run with a time of 1:17:32 exceeding her predicted time by over four minutes. She was the 4th FSRC female finisher at the Lil’B 5kish, and she also placed 3rd at the FSRC Pie Run with a time of 48.56. At the rainy! Rainy! 2019 Frederick Half, she placed 34th overall female and the 5th FSRC female with a time of 1:42:46. At the Frederick Market Street Mile, she finished 15th in the female division and was the fourth female Steeplechaser finishing with a chip time of 6:15. And finally, she was the fifth female finisher and third FSRC female at Rick’s Run with a time of 50:53 even after getting stung several times!

I am proud to honor and recognize Paige Baeirl as this years’ FSRC Rising Star!

Rising Star Men – Adam Lowe

He is new to the area, but not new to running.

He logs over 25oo miles per year.

He is a husband, a father, a coach and a mentor.

He has ran over 20 marathons with over 15 being a Boston Qualifier.

He has led a visually impaired man to a 13.1 PR.

He has raced along side his son to earn him a 5k PR.

He has ran 41 miles with Michael Wardian.

He has coached his high school cross country team to a State Championship.

He was a member of Team Hylands and is on the FSRC Race Team.

He is one of the most encouraging and humble people I know.

This year’s rising star is Adam Lowe.

Most Improved Women – Effie Nomicos

Our most improved female runner of the year has demonstrated that even runners over 50 can still get faster! Over the past year, this runner has demonstrated almost 10% improvement in her race times over all distances from 5k to marathon in the 13 races she competed in this year,  

Her 5K times improved from an average of 30-32 minutes in 2018 to 28:20 at the Pink Ribbon 5K in October.

Her 10 mile race times improved from over 2 hours in 2018 to 1:40:07 at the Army 10 miler in October.

Her most impressive improvement has been at the marathon distance.  Since 2017, she has run the Marine Corps marathon showing significant improvements in times with each one- in 2017- she ran the marathon in 7:07:31, in 2018, she took almost a whole hour off her time to 6:11:21.  Incredibly, she repeated the feat again in 2019, taking off another hour improving her time to 5:07:07. A stunning feat- cutting off over 2 hours her marathon time in 2 years! For this amazing level of achievement for a grandmaster runner, our winner is Effie Nomicos!

Most Improved Men – Edwin Marroquin

I’ve been a member of this club for three years, which isn’t really that long compared to many of you. But even if you’ve only been a member of this club for three months, weeks or even days (welcome!), you’ve likely gotten to experience what makes this group so special. I’ve certainly experienced it, and it didn’t take long. Soon after I joined the Steeplechasers, I realized what a supportive, dedicated and fun group we have here. And with that, comes what I think is one of the best gifts this club gives to the people who join it: the opportunity to realize their potential.

So, that’s really why I’m here to present this award. This award for most improved runner is a testament to this individual realizing their potential. Now, as I said, while this club provides the opportunity to fulfill your potential, you must seize it. That takes work. And that’s what led this individual to improving so much in 2019.

This runner puts in some serious work. And it goes beyond running. This guy is an athlete. He mixes it up with cross training and weightlifting (what us runners all should do really–I’m guilty, I just love running too much!) and that approach to overall fitness has made him stronger, faster and has kept him from getting injured. You can’t realize your potential if you’re injured. 

So, healthy and strong, what did this runner do in 2019? Flowing from a strong end to 2018, he worked and he improved–unbelievably. This runner set a PR at literally every distance he raced: 1 mile, 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon. I remember seeing him after some races and joking with him like it was just normal to PR at every race you run, ya know, another PR, no biggie. And if he raced multiple times at the same distance, he usually set a new PR as the year went on. To make this even more impressive in context, he won multiple age group awards along the way and qualified for the FSRC Racing Team with several races age-grading in the mid-70-percents.

Let’s look at some results. I went to Strava to gather most of this data, and it just confirmed the impressive year that this person had. He ran more than 1,800 miles in 2019. As I was going down the list of his best efforts on his Strava profile, I clicked into each distance and yep, that’s a PR, and another, and another, that he set in 2019. He set a 5K PR in 18:35, good for a 75% age graded time. He set a 10K PR in 39:40, and a 10-mile PR in 1:05:23 at the challenging Baltimore 10 Miler. And in the midst of marathon training, this wasn’t a PR (he did that at the Frederick Half in May), but he “took it easy” at the Baltimore Half Marathon and finished in 1:30 flat. Finally, he capped his impressive year and an awesome training cycle with a 3:14 at the Marine Corps Marathon in very challenging conditions, which will likely qualify him for Boston 2021.

This runner has earned this award, as you all just heard, for his accomplishments and improvements in 2019. He also simply deserves one of our club’s major awards because he is a really great guy and is a passionate Steeplechaser. This runner has become one of my best running friends, and has gone above and beyond for his friends by helping them train and sharing words of encouragement; and keeping us accountable to show up for our 5 a.m. runs around town. Whether it’s Taco Tuesday, Parking Ticket Thursday, or Heavy Metal Friday, I love running with this guy, and I’m honored to present the Steeplechasers’ 2019 award for most improved male runner to mi hermano, Edwin Marroquin.

Iron Woman – Linda Boring

    Our Ironwoman of the year is probably the most humble and unassuming runner I know.  I’m not sure she even recognizes how good of an ultrarunner she actually is.  I’m certain she’s definitely tougher than she gives herself credit for.

         She is constantly finding ways to challenge herself, to “Live a great story.”  She faces her fears head on.  She can be absolutely petrified to try something new, but I can guarantee you she will do it anyway.

         In 2019, from January to June she was: 8th at Phunt 25k, 2nd at Hashawha Hills 50k, 4th at Cloudland Canyon 50k, 3rd at Gunpowder Keg Ultra 25k, 2nd at Grayson Highlands 50k, and 4th at Dam Yeti 50k.

         Then we don’t see her on the results pages for a few months.  She didn’t stop running, she just wasn’t racing.  She’s a school teacher.  She spends every summer exploring somewhere different in the world, solo.  Not just cities, and tourist landmarks, but running adventures off-the-beaten.  This past summer her Facebook feed was filled with really cool pictures from Norway, Denmark, Arizona, Utah.

         But things happen.  She unfortunately broke her foot and needed surgery for a tendon injury in her hand kind of all at the same time in late summer.  But as with everything else in her life, she faced it head on and soldiered on.  She took a mandatory, and probably very antsy, 8 weeks off from running.  And came back blazing.

A few days after coming out of a cast she placed 9th at Freedom’s Half.  A week later she placed 2nd at the High Bridge Ultra 30k.  She then placed 3rd at Georgia Sky to Summit 25k.  I’m sure I’ve missed a few results in there.  UltraSignup only gets you so far.

         This is her last year of teaching, and she’ll be retiring soon.  My understanding is that she is hoping to head west.  So we wish her well, and may she live a great story.  And tell us all about it on Facebook.

2019 Ironwoman of the Year – Linda Boring.

Iron Man – John Way

This year’s Ironman is known not as an ultra-distance runner but for the sheer number of races he manages to complete!  He is a prolific and dedicated runner – completing 155 races this year alone. He has completed this number of races not just this year but over the course of 25+ running year history!  This is his 12th consecutive year of 100+ races. He typically runs at least 2-3 races a week but during the summer months, he often will run 4-5 races a week with being an avid competitor in multiple club summers series.  He is a frequent volunteer at running races not only with the Steeplechasers but at the other running clubs he belongs to including but not limited to Montgomery Road Runners, Howard Striders, Westminster Road Runners, Potomac Valley track club, and DC Road Runners.  If you ever need information about races in this region, this runner is the great resource of running knowledge! 

Besides being a prolific runner, he is a versatile one- running all distances from 200 meters to the marathon and all types of running from track events, road races, and trail.  He has numerous streaks of running certain races and race series that extend beyond 5- 10 years. This ironman has run well this year improving his overall AG 3.5% this year with an average of over 68%! He is also a member of the Steeplechasers racing team and a frequent AG winner.  He finished the year with 2nd place AG wins in the Steeplechasers Grand Prix series and the MD RRCA Grand prix series.  He has persevered through injury during his races including a fractured shoulder, hamstring injuries, and most recently finishing Rick Run’s with a broken finger! For this and many other reasons, this year’s Ironman winner is John Way!

Unsung Hero – Jason Scaroni & Gwyn Whieldon

The Unsung Hero Award recognizes a member who has positively influenced the club with an encouraging attitude and a willingness to help in whatever capacity necessary. Our 2019 Unsung Hero Award goes to a pair of Steeplechasers who are generous with their time and resources and are truly a delight to be around.

If Mark is looking for volunteers on Facebook they are often the first ones in line to act as course marshals and help with timing. In fact, they helped with timing so much over the last few years that they have been trusted to serve as head timers when Mark can not make it to an event.

They have manned the Steeps Tent at Freedom’s Run, which has become a Steeps favorite race, largely in part to their presence at the post-run party.

This couple stepped up to head the very important role of providing beer at the Frederick Summer Solstice. They have spent countless hours on the committees not only for that race but pretty much all of the FSRC signature races. Speaking of Signature races, we will surely never forget this year’s Market Street Mile where the couple, along with members of their bridal party, raced a mere hours before their wedding, the bride and groom looking beautiful and full of infectious joy. The next day they won best in Show and 2nd place at the Great Frederick Fair for their knitting and beer-making skills. Is there anything these two can’t do?

Our Unsung Hero’s have continued to help our Social Committee and played a crucial part in planning tonight’s event. Thank you for all that you do and your dedication to the Steeplechasers. Our 2019 Unsung Hero’s are Jason Scaroni and Gwyn Whieldon.

Inspiration – Lyn Whitten

Junior Runner of the Year – Rylee Schwee

The first few times I met our Junior Runner of the Year, I was a bit baffled.  I couldn’t quite figure out why a teenager would want to spend hours in the woods with a bunch of old people.  But she’s always smiling, so either she enjoys our company, or she’s up to something.

         She is mostly definitely an old soul, with wisdom and focus well beyond her years.  She excels in everything she puts her mind to doing.  Running included.

         She didn’t start running until she was 15.  At 16, she ran her first 50k.  Not just any 50k, but the gnarly, grueling Catoctin 50k.  She not only finished, but was the youngest female finisher in the history of the race, by quite a few years.  She finished in a very respectable 7:48.

         Fast forward a couple years.  In 2019, she was 2nd in her age group at the Pittsburg 10 miler.  Set her marathon PR with a 3:38:01 at the Pittsburgh Marathon, finishing in about the top 10% of the 4000+ runners.  She ran across Maryland in 11 hours.  For those of you not familiar with this, you start in Pennsylvania and run the Appalachian Trail to Harper’s Ferry, about 42 miles.  She was 5th female overall at the HAT Run 50k.  Third female overall at the North Face 50k where she would go sub 5 hours with a 4:59:36.  In her first 50 miler, the OSS/CIA, she placed 4th female overall.

She would also go back to Catoctin.  The 2019 Catoctin 50k was lovingly called the Hell Cat. The Catoctin is well known for being hot and humid, but the 2019 version was next level hot and humid.  The only reason the 44% DNF rate wasn’t higher was because the saner runners just didn’t bother to show up.  But not only would our Junior Runner of the Year finish, in some really tough conditions, she would set a course PR by 48 minutes, and take home 1st female overall.

         So while most teenagers are perfecting their Instagram posts and SnapChat stories, our Junior Runner of the Year was acing high school, applying to colleges, winning an FSRC Memorial Scholarship, working a job, perfecting her ultrarunning skills, and volunteering as a coach for our Lincoln Panthers Running Club.  I’m inspired by her time management skills, maybe even more so than her running.

         I can’t wait to see what she does with her first 100 miler in July. 2019 Junior Runner of the Year – Rylee Schwee.

Grand Master Runner of the Year Women –Harriet Langlois

Our female grandmaster runner of the year is no stranger to the Steeplechasers.  A Waxter award winner, former treasurer, race director, board of directors’ member, and an amazing cookie maker, her volunteer efforts with club sometimes overshadow her running accomplishments.  

A member of the Steeps race team, she is a consistent age group winner in all distances from the mile to the marathon.  She started out the year with an impressive Club Challenge 10 miler time of 1:32:55, with an AG of 71.5%. She continued the year with impressive performances at the Frederick ½ marathon with a time of 2:07:29. She followed that up with fast Germantown 5 miler time of 45:01, AG 71.25%.  She didn’t let the summer heat slow her down either with a quick time of 45:38 and AG win at the Summer Solstice 8K and a hilly, hot Run for the Pie in July.  

She also demonstrated her versatility as a short distance runner with a swift 8:02 at the Market St. mile and another AG win with a 26:04 at the competitive Way Station Turkey Trot 5k in November with her best AG of the year of 74.7%!

Arguably, one of her best distances has been the marathon- completing 3 this year – all with AG awards! These included a 4:20:36 at the Mississippi Blues marathon, 4:22:26 at the Clarence Demar marathon in NH, and her fastest marathon of the year this December in Alabama at the Rocket City marathon in a time of 4:17:26, with an AG of 71.36%! 

Our female grandmaster runner of the year is no other than Harriet Langlois! Congratulations on another great year!

Grand Master Runner of the Year Men – Art Gregory

The 2019 Grand Master of the Year is at pretty much every Frederick and Maryland RRCA Grand Prix race, winning his age group and passing out his signature fist pumps to his fellow Steeps. Around here we are used to him being on the podium and 2019, in particular, has been a stand out year.

He started off the year with age group wins at the RRCA Club Challenge, Forest of Needwood, the B&A Half Marathon, and the Westminster Main Street Mile, where he ran a 6:37 mile. This all proved to be great training for the Boston Marathon where he kept his streak of getting a BQ at every marathon. It is of note that our Grand Master did not start running marathons until his 70’s! 

He continued his streak of Age Group wins through the Summer and Fall, placing first at the Bel Air Town Run, Frederick Summer Solstice, the Market Street Mile, and the Frederick Turkey Trot to name a few. He was the Age group winner of the FSRC and Maryland Grand Prix Series and took 3rd in the Equalizer series.

One of his biggest running accomplishments to date came in June. When he not only competed in the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he won both of his events. He placed first in his age group in both the 5k and the 10k. 

Our 2019 Grand Master Runner of the Year is Art Gregory.

Master Runner of the Year Women – Ruth Taylor

Our Masters Runner of the Year has made a name for herself as a top age-group competitor not only in Frederick but in the entire Maryland/DC area. In 2019 she has racked up top times all over the US and even abroad. She considers herself a “running generalist”, loving all distances from our Decathlon track series and 1-mile races, all the way up to marathons and ultras. Since 2012, she’s completed over 35 races each year, placing in most of them.

2019 proved to be no exception as our Master of the Year once again showed her strength and speed in so many races that it is hard to narrow down. She ran 2 World Major Marathons, the Berlin, and Boston Marathons, requalifying for Boston along the way. This year she also traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the National Senior Games. This “Senior Olympics” is held every 2 years, and is for top athletes over 50. Racing at altitude proved to be a challenge, but this tough Steeplechaser still managed to receive a medal as a top finisher in both the 5K and 10K, finishing in 6th and 8th place. 

Closer to home, she supported many local races, finishing 1st Grand Masters at the Frederick Summer Solstice 8K, 1st Grand Masters at the Frederick Women’s Distance Festival, 1st Masters at the Spook Hill 4 Mile, and 1st in her Age Group at the competitive Frederick Turkey Trot, finishing in 22:29, an Age Grade Percentage of 74.3%. Two days after her top Turkey Trot performance she raced the NCR Marathon and earned the title of Grand Master Champion with a 3:41 finish time, her fastest marathon in several years. 

Our Master’s Runner of the Year capped off her successful year of running by winning her Age Group in the Frederick Steeplechaser Grand Prix Series, and finisher 3rd in our Equalizer Challenge. She was also an Overall Winner in the 2019 Maryland Grand Prix series. Congratulations to our 2019 Masters Runner of the Year, Ruth Taylor.

Master Runner of the Year Men – Pete Wergin

Our Masters Runner of the Year has had quite the year! His average age grade for the year was 79.6%, the top in the club. This 54-year-old started off the year with the Montgomery County Road Runners New Years Day 5K, finishing in 18:14. He showed this was no fluke by consistently keeping a sub-six-minute pace in multiple 5k’s throughout the year. This included an 18:05 at the Frederick Turkey Trot, an incredible 84.1% age grade percentage. For those not familiar, over 80% is considered a “national class” performance level. In other words, very fast! 

Over the course of the year, this Steeplechaser has demonstrated his speed at longer events as well. He clocked a 37:16 at Pike’s Peek 10K in Rockville for an age group win, followed by another age group win a week later at the Frederick ½ Marathon with a finish time of 1:25:54. In October, he ran a 1:00:49 at the Army 10 Miler, good enough for 3rd in an age group of over 1500 runners.  This individual won his age group in the 2019 Steeplechasers Grand Prix series and was the Top Overall winner in the Equalizer series. 

Our Master Runner of the Year stands out for his hard work, consistency, and fast times. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for our Master Runner of the Year, Pete Wergin.

Runner of the Year Women – Crys Achuo

This year’s runner of the year is an amazing runner, both on the trails, as well as the road. After a stellar 2018, which included two 50Ks, first overall at Miner’s Lady, and her first 100 miler, she was ready to tackle 2019.

Her year started off with a 1:08:16 at the Club Challenge in February. While she’s no stranger to the winner’s podium, 2019 brought a first for her, as she was first overall female at the Gettysburg Marathon in a time of 3:15:02. A week later, she ran the Frederick Half Marathon in 1:42:38. Up next was the Summer Solstice 8K, where she was the 5th female with a time of 33:05. In September, she returned to Rick’s Run where she was 3rd female for the first loop, and 2nd female for the 8-hour Ultra Challenge. Oh, and she had thought about stopping after 5 loops, as she was battling foot issues, but was encouraged to keep going. She finished off her year by finishing 3rd female at Spook Hill with a time of 26:43.

While this runner had an amazing year, it didn’t come without struggles. During the year, she battled issues with her foot that prevented her from running. While this might have sidelined others, this runner turned to the bicycle to train, as well as hitting the gym to keep up her fitness. It definitely paid off, and goes to show the importance of cross training.

When she wasn’t running, she was out there cheering on others, helping at races, as well as crewing for friends. What really sticks out to me about this runner isn’t all her accomplishments, but how humble she is. When I reached out to her to see if she was coming to the Banquet, as she hadn’t signed up, she was quite surprised that she was getting a major award. Glad to see that she’s here tonight so we can celebrate her.

What’s up next for this runner? In addition to being in a new age group, yes Claire and Katie, she’s in our age group, she’s making her first trip to Boston in April and will return to CAT50K in July. Who knows, maybe she’ll do another 100-miler? Whatever she does, she will make it look effortless, and with a smile on her face.

I’m happy to announce that this year’s Runner of the Year is Crystal Achuo.

Runner of the Year Men – Arthur Leathers

This runner has been a member of the Steeplechasers for a relatively short amount of time (just a year or two, I think) – but he has made a name for himself within the club, and even within the region, fast. By running really, really fast.

The award for runner of the year is, at its core, a performance-based award. So, when looking at the results that this runner achieved in 2019, it’s obvious that he earned this. Competing in a highly competitive age group, this runner turned in some really impressive times.

He began the year representing the FSRC Racing Team with an astounding 56:44 at the RRCA Club Challenge 10 Miler, and he was the top Steeplechaser at the event, helping the team earn points in one of the most competitive fields in the region. Not only that–and I checked this to be sure–his time was the fastest ever run by a Steeplechaser at the Club Challenge!

That’s just one example of how this runner has made this club proud. He continued his tremendous year with a 1:15 at the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in D.C. in March, and just a few weeks later followed that with a 3:06 Boston Marathon. Over the summer, he saw the podium at the McVet 10K in June with a 35:56 (3rd OA) and won the Steeps’ Decathlon 800 meter in July with a blistering 2:06. He closed the year with two top-ten and top-Steeplechaser finishes at very competitive races: a 4:44 (7th OA) at the Market Street Mile, and a 16:06 at the Turkey Trot (8th OA).

Aside from this award, his performance also earned him other accolades from our club such as winning the Steeps’ Grand Prix for 2019 and even placing in second in the Steeps’ Equalizer Series–without any age-grade assistance! Speaking of age-grades, his overall age grade for 2019 races was 77.5% and his three-year age grade is 75%.

I know this runner pretty well, and have had the chance to run with him a few times when he’s been gracious enough to slow down for me. When it comes to races, I’ve raced against him a few times…and lost, just like everyone else.

This runner isn’t just fast. He’s a really good guy and someone we love having on our racing team and in our club. He exemplifies everything that’s great about the Steeps. It’s an honor to announce that the 2019 male runner of the year is Arthur Leathers.

Waxter Award – Heidi Novak

The Waxter Award is given to a member who provides inspiration through participation and exceptional volunteerism. Our previous Waxter award winners are Steeps that need no introduction. Many of them are in this room and still dedicate hours and upon hours to this organization. They keep the club running behind the scenes and are also at the forefront of advertising the club and keeping members motivated. This year’s Waxter Award winner epitomizes everything the Waxter Award represents. 

It feels like our award winner has been everywhere this year! She is the lead of our training programs. She has recruited new coaches, helped launch programs, and kept the training programs fun and informative. She did this while participating in the training groups herself. She has inspired us as we followed along her journey to finish her first 50k. She has encouraged others to also step outside their comfort zone and try something new, constantly taking time to recognize and support others on Facebook and in person.

She is our social committee chair, organizing new and exciting themed happy hours, the Summer Picnic, and the End of the Year Banquet. She is also the club secretary, the perfect role for her as she is detailed and organized and keeps us all in line.

Our 2019 Waxter Award winner has filled some big roles within the Steeplechasers, putting in hundreds of hours of service, and she does it with such amazing heart. She makes everyone around her want to do more and reach higher. Mark Lawrence has been quoted as saying she is one of his best recruits into the Steeplechasers. I think everyone here would agree. Congratulations to our 2019 Waxter Award winner, Heidi Novak.

Waxter Award – Trevor James

Tonight’s next Waxter Award goes to the head coach of our youth running program, Trevor James. The FSRC Spires program, for ages 7-14, is unique because the emphasis is on learning the benefits of running as a fun and enjoyable means of lifetime fitness. This program gives every kid the opportunity to achieve and be recognized for how much they participate, learn, and improve. Through the program, they develop a foundation of knowledge, technique and base conditioning, while making friends and having fun along the way.

This year our Spires program hosted their first youth Cross Country meet within Frederick City, at Rose Hill Manor Park. They were 454 runners strong with participants from all over Frederick, Baltimore, Montgomery, Carroll, and Howard County. As a parent of a couple of the participants, I can speak to what a terrific first-class meet this was. The amount of volunteers and work that goes into an event this size is incredible and the Spires team didn’t miss a beat. The Spires club also sent 17 runners to compete in this year’s Cross Country Coaches National Youth Championships. What is most noticeable about these kids and this team is not their speed, but their good sportsmanship and the camaraderie between its members, which can be seen through their team cheer or as they root for their teammates. 

The head coach of the Spires, Trevor James, has done an amazing job and taken this group to another level. He puts his heart and soul into the program, spending countless hours planning practices for as many as 80 kids, coordinating with coaches, and communicating with families of the participants. He is enthusiastic, energetic, and passionate. It is clear how much he cares for his runners and wants to see them grow and thrive.

Trevor James has made the Spires a youth club that others strive to be. The kids love it. The parents love it. The coaches love it. We are so thankful for all he does for this team. Congratulations to our 2019 Waxter Award winner, Trevor James.

Special Award – Mark Lawrence

“If you run in Frederick, then you should be a member of the Frederick Steeplechasers Running Club” 

If that quote sounds familiar, then it means you have raced somewhere in the area and that Mark Lawrence was in charge of the race or the finish line. Some of you became members after hearing that or inquired about the Steeplechasers based on that statement.

In early December of last year, a dozen or so officers and board members met with the awards committee to look at input provided by club members as to who would be honored at tonight’s ceremony. We poured over a lot of names and data and discussions led to the amazing cast of honorees tonight. When Mark’s name came up, the category did not seem to fit his contributions to the club. In fact, there was no category that truly defined what he has done for all of us. Most of the people in the room were aware of Mark’s history with the club but for the honor to make sense to those of you who have been with the club a decade or less, a history lesson was needed. So who else but someone older than dust to present Mark’s amazing contributions to the club.

In 1975 a group of individuals rode the wave of the running boom and created the Frederick Steeplechasers running club. Running was pretty simple and local races were pretty low key. Through the ’80s and ’90s, membership was in the 100+ range and a small group of 4 individuals ran the organization. A newsletter mailed out 4 times a year kept members informed of club activities. In early 2000 the club hit some bumpy roads as club leaders moved away, got involved in other activities, or just weren’t sure how to move the club forward. Membership dropped below 100, Market Street Mile went from a high of 300 runners to an all-time low of about 60. One year the Women’s Distance Festival had about 20 ladies running. Even worse our main communication tool, the website, listed races that were no longer run, incorrect dates of races, and race times that were inaccurate. By 2006 the possibility of the club not existing was out there.

Luckily for us, Mark was elected president of the club. The first thing he did was gather a dozen individuals from the community that had had some connection to running…Rachel Ridgeway who made the Frederick Marathon and Running Festival a huge success, Vicky Bate from the YMCA who put on many successful races, Mary Zielinski who led the trail running contingent, and Eric Lewis who was one of the organizers of the Lincoln Panthers elementary runners and a Rotary member amongst others. Mark had a clear vision of what the club should look like and what needed to be done to get it back on its feet. As a natural leader with an eye for talent, he inspired those attending with this vision for success and then gave everyone a specific task of what they were to do to make this happen. Meetings were frequent and successes slowly began to happen. Mark’s term as president from 2007-2011 was the longest in club history and the beginning of the Steeplechaser club we have today. Mark took his message out to the running community and membership grew. Not only did it grow but his vision of what a running club should be inspired others to form training groups, businesses to sponsor races and runners, education nights, youth running, and running for the health of it.

One of the challenges that came up was the move of our finish line organizer, Ken Anderer. Ken did an amazing job, many times a solo effort. All the equipment was stored in the back of his trusty station wagon. When Ken left, Mark took over this laborious position and as with the club had a vision as to what a finish line service should look like. Results were accurate and awards lists completed quickly, courses were marked clearly for all runners, and probably the most important part…race directors were given clear instructions as to what was involved in putting on a race. As the club grew, the need for more equipment grew and soon finish line material filled Mark’s garage. Thank goodness Mark had a truck to haul around all the equipment. The equipment outgrew Mark’s garage and now fills a large storage unit.  Equipment was one piece but races were getting to the size that more than a few people were needed to run it. Mark’s ability to organize and utilize people enabled him to have a large group helping at each race. The more people that helped, the more members saw the background workings of a race and the enjoyment of volunteering. You always left a finish line having enjoyed your time there.

Somehow Mark managed to find a bit of time to create a youth running program. Unlike other youth programs in the area that focus on the competitive aspect, Mark’s group learned the joy of running, focusing on good running form and mechanics, and used races as a means of measuring personal improvement. The number of young runners grew as word got out about the enjoyment his athletes experienced.

Not only did the youth benefit from Mark’s expertise and running wisdom but he became fluent in the area of Chi running. With a lot of studying and talking with experts in this area as well as attending conferences, Mark took to this style of running and began to share with others. he would put on clinics and pass out advice. Eventually, he organized this into a program to help others. Many club members owe personal running breakthroughs or healthy returns to running based on their application of Mark’s Chi running classes.

If you are mentally adding up all the time involved, you have to wonder if he has the same 24 days we experience…but as the infomercials say “but wait there’s more!” Mark is also an accomplished runner. In is pre-knee issue time of life Mark ran several JFK’s, Cat 50’s, Fire on the Mountain, and other long-distance races. He was a fierce trainer and like a true Steep, never let a few hills or rugged terrain hold him back. It was always a highlight when one of his sons would join him in a race…especially if that race was JFK.

So you would think that once the club was on the road to success, Mark could kick back and enjoy the momentum he created. Ummm, that would not be Mark. He is still committed to making the club an enjoyable experience for all runners. He still runs 20-30 finish lines each year, he organizes the course marshals for the Frederick Running Festival and is the race director for the incredibly successful Frederick Turkey Trot. Behind the scenes, he is a very active member of the board of directors for the Steeplechasers. One task he has undertaken since stepping down as president is being part of the committee that creates the candidates for club officers. That gift of seeing talent has allowed us to elect a string of incredibly talented presidents as well as support officers who represent an incredible amount of members, races that contribute over $60,000 to charity and provide opportunity and information to whatever a runner may be seeking.

So where are we now? Enjoying all the benefits of a successful running club that caters to our racing, training, social, educational, injury prevention and rehab, and all because one person had a vision of what it would take for a running club to be successful. There is a lot Mark has provided for us and this is why there really isn’t a category worthy of his accomplishments. Thank you Mark and congratulations.

President’s Award – John Steiner