O’Connell, Kartalia lead BVHM field

September 24, 2012


2012 results … WRRC event page … PHDC event page (results from 2001+)
Photos by Bill Ullrich … BVHM race history (by D. Herlocker)

214 finishers celebrate 30th event anniversary

The start of the 30th anniversary of the Bachman Valley Half Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 23, in Westminster, Md. / Photo by Bill Ullrich / Ullrich Digital Media

WESTMINSTER, Md., Sept. 23, 2012 — The weather conditions couldn’t have been better for the 214 finishers of the 30th anniversary of the David Herlocker Memorial Bachman Valley Half Marathon.

It was, in a word, “perfect,” said Carrielyn O’Connell.

O’Connell, 26, of Taylorsville, had every reason to be happy with the weather — and her performance in it. After pacing behind 2011 BVHM winner Caroline Bauer for the first lap of the two-loop course, O’Connell took advantage of surged ahead of Bauer — and all but 14 men in the 214-runner field — to earn the women’s title with a time of 1 hour, 32 minutes and 52 seconds.

Westminster’s own Steve Kartalia captured his fifth consecutive Bachman Valley Half Marathon title with a  winning time of 1:14:10.2.

O’Connell’s winning time established a personal best for her at the 13.1-mile distance. Bauer finished only two spots behind, in 1:33:22.8. Both runners beat Bauer’s winning time in 2011 of 1:36:18.

“She was ahead of me for the first lap,” O’Connell said of Bauer. “Then I just decided I was going to beat her.”

Michelle Ritter, 38, took third (and 26th overall) in 1:37:47.8, followed by three 29-year-olds: Christine Trzcinska (1:38:55.5), Janet Gass (1:39:03.1) and Tasha Bittinger (1:39:55.9). Ruth Taylor, 44, rounded out the top seven and won the women’s masters crown in 1:41:14.7. Deborah Sharp, 54, earned the grand masters title in 1:53:04.3.

O’Connell might weight the same as she did last year, but she’s running with a lighter load just the same. In the 2011 race, O’Connell was still a graduate student at the University of Maryland in College Park. She’s nearly a year removed from her studies and the time-consuming demands excellence in the classroom make. More free time around a government job makes for a faster runner.

Last year, O’Connell was the fourth female finisher (1:40:22.7) and ran 1:38:29 in 2010 (37th place). She’s in training for the Marine Corps Marathon and is aiming for a Boston-qualifying time of 3:40. Last year, she was only four minutes off.

She’s back to running five days a week — all of it solo, after a lengthy commute to and from work — in Carroll County. A lacrosse player in high school, she “got bored” her freshman year at the  University of Maryland-Baltimore County and ran a marathon. O’Connell’s been hooked ever since.

Kartalia wins fifth straight
Kartalia, 47, lives and regularly trains along the course. In eight BVHM races, Kartalia has five championships, two silvers and a bronze. But it never gets old, he said, even as he continues to age.

“It’s been a pretty good little streak,” Kartalia said of his five straight wins.

Even better, said the former 10,000-meter Olympic Trials qualifier, is that this year’s time was about 43 seconds faster than last year’s first-place effort.

“I only heard footsteps for maybe the first mile,” Kartalia said. After that, it was “pretty much a solo run.”

Kyle Friis, 25, was nearly nine minutes behind Kartalia and stopped the clock in 1:22:50.3. David Hicks, 31, was third in 1:24:07.3 followed by Michael Merkle, 17, in 1:24:21.2, Ben Pittsley (23, 1:24:43.3) and masters winner David Tushingham (44, 1:24:47.9). Karsten Brown, 38, of Front Royal, Va., followed up last year’s second-place effort with a 1:25:40.6. Peter Dodd, 53, of Hanover, Pa., won the men’s grand masters title in 1:27:36.6, good for 10th place overall.

However, Kartalia — who normally expects Brown to be much closer to him — said Brown had a pretty good reason for his time. The day before, Brown had completed a marathon in Howard County.

“To even show up at a half marathon” a day later, Kartalia said, was impressive.

Brown is well-known for his high-mileage exploits. Kartalia, meanwhile, prefers to keep a more modest weekly goal. In fact, his average of 60 miles a week over the past 10 weeks is a bit high for him. He’s normally a bit closer to the 55-mile-a-week range.

The personal touch
The event is a staple of the Westminster Road Runners Club and is staged in honor of the late David Herlocker. This year, though, there was more than Herlocker’s memory on the course.

Former WRRC club president and longtime volunteer Frank Schaeffer was on the course again, this time as a course marshal. At Mile 5, Schaeffer had a memorial tribute to the late Sam Case — a close friend of both Schaeffer’s and Herlocker’s. Case died this past August at the age of 70 after complications from leukemia.

Tying up the shoelaces
* Karsten Brown and Rhonda Stricklett both have an addiction — to logging miles. Brown finished as the top WRRC competitor a day after finishing a marathon (26.2 miles) in Howard County. Stricklett was the top female WRRC finisher and, the day before, completed a “mere” 40 miles on the Appalachian Trail.
* There were 176 pre-registerd runners (145 of whom showed up). There were 113 race-day registered runners, 258 starters and 214 finishers.
* Deputies from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department once again did a great job of slowing race-day traffic and, with a high visibility, kept runners safe.
* This was Race Director Beth Weisenborn’s fifth and final year as Bachman Valley Half Marathon director. She has spearheaded the recruitment of 60-plus volunteers and put in countless hours making the event a success. Who’s going to fill her shoes?


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