Run for the Plunge 15K/5K
By Kevin Spradlin
Flintstone, MD February 26, 2010
For the Washington Running Report
* Rocky Gap State Park charity event ready for record field
* Special offer to potential Marathon Festival runners
Earlier this month, Jason Griffith and Mary Jane Baniak, a husband and wife pair from Short Gap, WV captured the men and women’s titles for the Hobo’s Heartbreaker 10K road race.
Both have entered the Run for the Plunge 15K (9.3-mile) race, presented by Pittsburgh-based Manheim Corp., set for March 6 at Rocky Gap State Park. But if either of them had any thoughts about duplicating their Valentine’s Day weekend feat, they ought to think again.
While Griffith, 39, still might contend for the men’s title, the designation of women’s pre-race favorite belongs to McHenry resident Jennifer Sober.
Sober, 36, is the top contender for the inaugural Run for the Plunge 15K, which has a 7:45 a.m. start time at Rocky Gap State Park. The 5K begins at 8:30 a.m. Registrations are currently being accepted for both events – $12 for the 15K and $10 for the 5K.
Runners also can sign up on race day beginning at 7:00 a.m. for $17 and $15, respectively.
Sober’s entry form was received Thursday afternoon. She was second in last October’s Great Allegany Run, which features a net elevation loss from Mount Savage to downtown Cumberland. The certified personal trainer and coach won in 2008.
Like the GAR, Run for the Plunge 15K has a friendly beginning. But Mile 5 has a healthy hill on Mason Road, a scenic thoroughfare in rural Allegany County. Mile 7 features a steady, grinding hill as runners complete the loop and return to Rocky Gap State Park.
The second year 5K and first-year 15K seem to be something of interest to runners from across the region. Its appeal is evidenced by record-setting pre-registration numbers.
“We’ve got more than 60 pre-registered already,” said Kevin Spradlin, executive director for the host Mountain Maryland Marathon Club, late Thursday afternoon. “Last year, we had only 32 pre-registered and 89 total runners. It seems people are eager to get outside and get past the recent snowstorms that have kept many of them inside and off the roads.”
“Remember,” Spradlin said, “event T-shirts are on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Last year, Grantsville resident Tom Ruckert, then 56, won the 5K in 19 minutes and 12 seconds. Paula Bridges, then 43, captured the women’s title in 22:36. And like last year’s runners, this year harriers will run simply for the joy of being outdoors.
“There is no prize money, no fancy awards or plaques,” Spradlin said. “Entry fees get you a shirt, if you register in time and access to the modest post-race food.”
The event, staged in conjunction with the sixth annual Hooley Plunge, benefits the Allegany County Special Olympics program and other projects that aid the developmentally disabled. The Hooley Plunge is the annual dip into Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park. Last year, the run helped the Hooley Plunge generate more than $90,000 in 2009.
The goal of $100,000 has been set for 2010. Runners and spectators alike will be guided by the able and willing helpers from the Volunteer Team, headquartered at Rocky Gap State Park.
As a special offer on March 6, those who register for the Run for the Plunge 15K or 5K races can register that same day for the any event in the Mountain Maryland Marathon Festival at early-bird registration rates. The lineup on April 18 includes the marathon, the RRCA Eastern Region Half Marathon Championship, 5K for United Way, kid’s 1.2-mile marathon and children’s 400-meter tot trot.
Those rates officially closed January 31, but this offer is being extended to marathon club-sponsored events on March 6 at Rocky Gap State Park and April 3 at Grace Academy in Hagerstown.