The IAAM kicked off the 2010-11 school year with the inaugural Horsin’ Around 5K race at Shawan Downs in Hunt Valley on Saturday.

The morning’s events consisted of a 5K off-road, cross-country type race, a 3K fun run/walk and an equestrian demonstration by IAAM riders.

IAAM executive director Sue Thompson must have had an inside connection with the weather man, as the event was held under ideal conditions for a late summer morning, with a delightful early breeze, low humidity and temperatures in the 70’s by race time.

The event came about last spring when it became clear that the IAAM was going to face some financial challenges going forward, and needed to find a creative means to raise funds.

“Larry Dukes [John Carroll’s athletic director], had strong contacts at Shawan Downs, through his long history with the local equestrian community,” said Thompson. “He developed the idea to host a 5K competitive race, a 3k fun run/walk and involve those IAAM Schools who also offered equestrian programs by creating a showcase which would feature riders from John Carroll, St. Timothy’s, McDonogh, Garrison Forest and Oldfields.”

Dukes’ contact with Charles Fenwick, president of Shawan Downs, afforded the opportunity for the IAAM to secure the Saturday date.

“We wanted to create an atmosphere that was energetic, fun and family-oriented. This event did all of that and more by getting hundreds of folks out on a beautiful Saturday morning to kick-off the school year.  It was a great day,” added Thompson.

Kara Carlin, athletic director at St. Timothy’s School, served as the event coordinator. Carlin secured a majority of the donated goods for the event, including give-aways, signage, finish line water and food, as well as getting Lynn Brick, owner of Brick Bodies, to handle pre-race warm-ups.  Other members of the race committee included Dukes, Mount de Sales Academy athletic director Gene Williams, Catholic athletic director Kari McBride, Glenelg Country School athletic director Nan Hambrose and Mount de Sales assistant athletic director Clare Odell, along with Brad Jaeger (Running Maryland).

“I am so pleased that the event was such huge success,” said Carlin.  “I loved having the opportunity for our St. Tim’s students to be a part of this wonderful pre-season event. I cannot think of a better way to kick of the season than for student athletes to come together with members of the community in celebration of sport and fitness.”

“The gifts our sponsors donated were an added bonus for the participants.  Race perks included a towel, t-shirt, tote bag, Wheaties, body glide, an outstanding pre-race warm-up, post-race drinks and food, music, games and more, thanks to our amazing sponsors,” added Carlin.

A truly dedicated and dependable group, a majority of the IAAM athletic directors and staff came out in force to show their support for the event and help out where needed. Their presence was instrumental helping at set-up, registration and check-in, serving as course marshals and providing finish-line help.

Even with the event being held just at summer’s end, a busy time just before the start of school, it was well-attended with an estimated attendance of over 600.  The races drew over 500 participants, including 22 of the 30 IAAM schools, as well as some college cross- country teams.

“Knowing how close this date was to the beginning of fall tryouts, the opening of schools and numerous meetings for coaches and administrators, the event was a risk, but one well-worth taking and I couldn’t be happier with the results,” said Thompson. “I am hoping that this becomes an annual event for the IAAM.”

john carroll's elizabeth tauber(The IAAM would like to thank the following sponsors:  CISCO Sportswear and G&G, SportsHerWay, Crown Trophy, Nightmare Graphics, Wegman’s, Giant Foods, Graul’s, Saratoga Insurance, Brick Bodies, MedStar Sports Health, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Pepsi, Signs by Tomorrow, A Ton of Fun, RunningWorld Magazine, Little Tony’s Restaurant, Trader Joe’s and Running Maryland.)

In the 5K race, Jake Zamostny, who ran at South Carroll, came away as the overall winner with a time of 17:30.  The first IAAM finisher was Elizabeth Tauber, a senior at John Carroll, clocking a time of 19:19, as she finished 11th overall.  The second female finisher was Lindsay Wilson (20:07), a Seton Keough grad now running at McDaniel College.

Full race results can be found at the Running Maryland website:

After the 5K race, there was a shorter 3K fun run, followed by the awards ceremony, as Carlin and Thompson handed out trophies to the various age-group winners. The morning then continued with an equestrian demonstration, as riders showed their skills while performing competitive relays over jumps and a cross country demonstration.

The success of the event had Thompson looking ahead.

“I anticipate hosting this event again next year. I think it could develop into a very big racing event, a larger equestrian event and continue to offer something for everyone who attends,” Thompson said. “And I love having the opportunity to showcase our schools, as well.

It also enhances our relationships with corporate sponsors, the running community, local residents and middle school students and their families. The IAAM is always seeking ways to support healthy minds and healthy bodies, and this event did just that.”

It was a perfect way to kick off the coming year. Over 400 varsity and junior varsity teams will compete in the upcoming IAAM sports seasons over the next nine months, taking part in over 5,000 contests.

So, as was said in ancient Rome, “Let the games begin.”