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Saturday, August 19, 2000 -- Cumberland, MD
16th Annual Chili Pepper 5K
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3]

Race Leaders
David Ritchie & Sean Castillo begin the climb to the finish
Cumberland hosts the annual Maryland State Chili Championship, and it begins with a Saturday morning 5-K run and two-mile walk. It thereby gets it's appropriate name, the Chili Pepper 5K.

Having recently moved the start time back to 8:00am to beat the August heat, this year's weather couldn't have been better. The early morning temperatures at the beautiful Ali Ghan Shrine, the start and finish for the race, struggled to get into the sixties. But once the racing got underway, the course started heating up quickly with the mostly sunny skies and fiery racers.

The out-and-back course began with a fast downhill out of the Shrine grounds, and in return, ended with a respectable climb back to the finish. The two-mile walk used the same course but with an earlier turnaround point.

Ian & Ian
A family the plays together,
stays together
In the run, it was the young legs of 15-year-old Sean Castillo quickly setting the pace at the front with 34-year-old David Ritchie doing his best to keep it close. Castillo, still leading at the half-way point, looked like he'd produce a win by leading from wire-to-wire. However, he briefly ran off course by failing to make the turnaround. A race marshal quickly directed him back in the right direction, but not until Ritchie and Don Foust had moved into the one-two positions, respectively.

Without a panic, Castillo quickly tracked down the new leaders until he was running shoulder-to-shoulder with Ritchie. The two raced together up the final climb as Castillo was confident that a sprint finish would be to his advantage... and Ritchie could do little to avoid it. True to his plans, the young legs sprinted to the line to take the win in 18:44 with Ritchie taking second in 18:46.

Taking third place was Jeff Smith (19:32) who used a strong finishing climb to move up from the fifth spot. He passed Steve Sherrard (19:51) early on the climb and finally edged Foust (19:35) near the top to earn his spot on the podium.

Marggie & April
Walkers Marggie Hipley & April Moreland battle from the start
The women's race did have a wire-to-wire victory as 43-year-old Mary Siemann (21:29) couldn't be caught by her competition. He closest rival for the first have of the race was 16-year-old Kaitlin Bensley (23:10). Bensley, however, had to settle for third place as the nicely paced Paula Bridges (22:32) overtook her at the midpoint of the race and went on to capture second.

Among the two-mile walkers, it was two-time defending champion Marggie Hipley who was a marked woman. Her good friend April Moreland seemed up to the challenge and matched her stride-for-stride up until the final hill. That's when Moreland launched an attack the Hipley's best efforts couldn't match. Moreland went on to take the overall win with a time of 24:07 while Hipley had to settle for second at 24:36.

R.C. Peterson
Just another 2-mile walk for "almost 80" R.C. Peterson
As all the runners and walkers made their way to the finish, they soon meandered off to the nearby picnic grounds. That is where a free breakfast was being served to the racers as all the festivities were being prepared for the day's big chili cook-off.

As a number of other folks stood patiently at the finish for the final participants to arrive, it seemed that there was still something electric in the air. Then they arrived, not the fastest walkers and not exactly in the biggest hurry, but with heads held high and and contagious smiles from ear to ear. First it was 78-year-old Janey MacFawn doing her own version of the sprint to the finish. Not far behind it was the "almost 80" R.C. Peterson strolling to the finish with 16-year-old Hannah Myers at his side. Now that's an inspirational race finish!

Everyone who came out to participate in the race deserves a big thanks as all the proceeds go to help the Shriners. A big thanks also goes out to all the wonderful volunteers, and to Pepsi and the Queen City Striders, for their support.