Passing storm sets atmosphere for Midsummer Night’s Mile

Montgomery County Road Runners dodged a thunderstorm on Friday to host more than 100 runners at its Midsummer Night’s Mile on the Gaithersburg High School track.

Chris Moen of Bethesda claimed the fastest time of the night, staying with the pack in the first two laps before taking the lead and crossing the line in 4:36. D.C.’s Jacqueline Kasal was the fastest woman with her 5:24 finish.

Race volunteer Stacey Geldin said she could sense participants’ excitement before the start of the four-lap race, which divided the field across eight heats according to their estimated finish time. Heavy rain passed through the area in the hours before the race, leaving behind temperatures in the mid-80’s with 75 percent relative humidity.

Dan Lawson, who shared race director duties with Danny Talmage, was pleased to see the race back on MCRRC’s calendar after it was canceled in 2020. Before starting the first heat, he took a few minutes to honor George Tarrico, a renowned race official who died at the age of 84 last June from cancer. Lawson laughed as he described the large, golden bell that Tarrico used to bring for the final laps of the race during its more than 20-year history.

The 122 finishers marked a smaller turnout than recent years as the D.C. area returns to racing after the COVID-19 pandemic. Friday’s results listed 12 finishers under the age of 20 whereas previous years have seen closer to 30 such runners. Women made up 27 percent of the field.

This was Sharon Raszap’s first race after COVID-19. The Silver Spring runner admitted that she felt uncertain before the start, questioning how she’d handle the hard parts of racing, but the short distance felt like the right opportunity to return to a starting line. Now with a finish line behind her, she’s setting her sights on her first marathon in eight years.

Potomac’s Jocelyn Kelley, who graduated from the Unviersity of Virginia in May, expressed similar sentiments. She only recently returned to running after COVID-19 left her club field hockey season dormant during the past year. The 22-year-old led her heat from the start to a 5:41 finish, right off her goal of 5:40.

“I haven’t raced in years,” she said at the finish. “Now I think I have the bug.” She chose the Midsummer Night’s Mile thanks to her mother’s encouragement, and was grateful that they could bond over training.

Moen, too, associates the race with his family. His earliest memories of the event date to middle school when he ran it with his dad. His singlet on Friday featured an iron-on design for Sunflower TC, an inclusive running group he and his wife initiated the day before the race.

Rockville’s Roman Kastin notched his second-fastest mile just two days before he was set to line up for the rescheduled Frederick Half Marathon. He and fellow Road Runners member Bruce Lemieux of Gaithersburg were curious about how the mile would go and were glad to finish within their heats’ expected times.

MCRRC’s next event is the Going Green Track Meet on Aug. 7.

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