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Running Ain't Easy, So Why Do So Many People Race?

College Park Cares 5K drew record crowd this weekend.

Hundreds of people came together this weekend for the , all with slightly different reasons for being there.

“I think we do have a really diverse group that turns out for it,” Race Manager Mike Bearman said after the event Saturday morning, which attracted a record 250 registrants.

Take Katie Becker, a teacher and assistant coach for the cross country teams at Rockbridge Academy in Millersville, Md. Coming from a running family, she’s always dabbled in the sport, but Saturday she was there to be a leader for the high school club team that was competing.

And then there’s Jim Parsons, of College Park, who ran alongside his 9-year-old son, Thomas, in his first 5K; and Effie Baldwin, of Laurel, who used the race as an excuse to visit the city she moved from in 2008.

Perhaps the most impressive story I came across on Saturday, though, is that of Nancy Puffett.

The 73-year-old College Park resident said she was the oldest runner in the race.

That’s why I’m wearing No. 1, she said, pointing to her bib number.

“I just decided I would do this [race] instead of my usual 4-½ mile run,” she added.

Why don’t you tell her a good story, her son, John, asked his mother as she talked with me. He explained: Turns out Puffett fractured her knee in April when she fell during a run. Now she’s back to running seven days a week.

“Running is real and relatively simple – but it ain’t easy,” Mark Will-Weber, an accomplished long-distance runner and coach from Pennsylvania once said.

So why does something as challenging as a race have the ability to draw together a crowd with diverse backgrounds, ages, goals and abilities? Why did so many show up for a 3.1-mile run around on Saturday – voluntarily – and pay a registration fee to do it?

For me, it has something to do with the motivation that comes with accomplishing something together. Runners are always drawing parallels between our sport and life, but it’s a reasonable comparison. Most challenges we face in our lifetimes are easier to overcome together.

I don’t think I’m the only one to notice this power in camaraderie. Or at the very least, to appreciate it.

“I feel like the race has grown since last year in size and in sophistication,” said one racer from Cheverly, Erin Castelli,“but it still has the hometown feel.”

Robert Mang September 27, 2011 at 01:18 AM
Where can we find the results of the race and times of competitors?
Shannon Hoffman September 27, 2011 at 02:12 AM
The results for past years are on the event website, but it's not updated with 2011 results yet. I assume it will be. http://www.collegeparkcares.com/
Ann Brennan September 28, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Awesome article Shannon. I just met a woman who ran her first Ironman at 59. She ran her last at 78 and at 81 has just come back from watching her son in law finish the World Long Course Championship in China. She said she was glad that is done because she can get back on the bike. BTW, her last tri was only her last because the ambulance that was following the field of athletes ran her over and she can no longer lift her arm above her shoulder so she can't swim. So now she does duathlon. People are amazing.
Pamela Torro October 07, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Be sure to check out this: http://pgvictimsfund.org/. Another 5k in CP tomorrow morning!
John Puffett October 15, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Shannon, thanks for your Patch business card as I came across it today helping me to track down this nice article you wrote on the CPC 5K that nicely highlighted it's oldest runner my mom Nancy. I wish you almost as much good fortune and luck in your journalism field/career as I do my nephew Cory Puffett who was the editor and chief for the local DeMatha's high school newspaper the year before last. He is currently aspiring to this profession as he pursues his degree at our local Univ. of MD here at the CP campus. Guessing like you too, he has won a fair share of his long distance races and loves to run like a champion he is. Nice chatting with you that day ... all the best & take care, ~/john p.
Shannon Hoffman October 17, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Hi John, Thanks for the kind message, and I was glad to meet you and your mother. (What an impressive lady!) I checked out your nephew's bio page, and he certainly has some accomplishments under his belt. Best of luck to him, Shannon

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