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History of David Herlocker Bachman Valley Half Marathon

By David Herlocker

When Frank Schaeffer became president of the Westminster Road Runners in 1983, one of the first things that he did was to compose a survey that he sent to the membership. One of the items on that survey asked if there were things that we did not do at the time that we ought to do.

A number of individuals indicated that we ought to conduct a half-marathon. Although we had organized a ten mile run as part of the Twilight Series and a twenty kilometer run as part of a ten kilometer/twenty kilometer combination run in early October, it was thought that a half-marathon would be a good prep race for marathon and ultramarathon races--such as the Marine Corps Marathon, the Maryland Marathon, and the JFK 50 Miler--that a number of WRRC members entered.

In the years since that survey, the ten mile and twenty kilometer run have disappeared. The BVHM, however, is alive and well, and recently it was run for the 24th time. Its history can be divided into four sections.

I. For the time period 1983-1988 the race was conducted on an out-and-back course from the Community Pond, the site of many races in the early days of the WRRC. The course initially climbed the hill to the shoulder of 140/97, turned east along the shoulder to Sullivan Road, went north on Sullivan Road to Lemmon Road, went west on Lemmon Road to Old Bachman Valley Road, and went north on Old Bachman Valley and Fridinger Mill Roads until the quarter marathon distance. In the first race Dave Griffin and Scott Douglas tied in the men's division, and Pam Garrettson won the women's division.

For the first few years the event was largely confined to the club membership, and the fields were small. By 1988, however, publicity had caused the race to grow in size, and that year there were so many cars that the excess was parked across the highway next to what was then a Twin Kiss "ice cream" stand. The winning times--open and masters. male and female--from that era are no longer the fastest times in the history of the race.

II. During 1988 the shoulder on 140/97 was converted into a turn lane, and the parking area across the highway was converted into a carwash. Thus, race directors Frank Baylor and Jay Hammond contacted John Meyers to determine if we could use the area in the vicinity of his produce store on Old Bachman Valley Road for a start/finish area, complete with rest room facilities and parking areas.

The course that they created consisted of a five mile plus loop, added to an eight mile out-and-back segment. The course began, as it still does, in front of the store, went south on Old Bachman Valley Road to Lemmon Road, then east on Lemmon Road to Sullivan Road, then north on Sullivan Road to Beggs Road, then west on Beggs Road to the intersection of Beggs and Old Bachman Valley/Fridinger Mill Roads (a bit more than five miles), then north on Fridinger Mill Road for three and one-half miles before turning south on Fridinger Mill and Old Bachman Valley Roads to return to the starting area, with the finish line being in front of the large warehouse, adjacent to the rest rooms.

This course was used from 1989-1998. During that time the men's open record was set in 1991 by Scott Douglas, whose time of 1:08:40 was ten minutes faster than the second place time. In addition the women's masters record was set in 1994 by Ann Mechley of Hanover, who finished in a time of 1:32:46.

III. In 1999 race day dawned dark, dreary, and very wet. Race director Frank Baylor declared the course unusable, due to the difficulty in slowing traffic coming from Route 30 on Fridinger Mill Road on the slippery pavement. For that reason it was decided to convert the course into two laps, with runners turning left at the intersection of Beggs, Old Bachman Valley, and Fridinger Mill Roads and proceeding to the starting area, a distance of approximately six miles per lap.

This distance has never been measured, the times are regarded as unofficial, and it is assumed that the course will never again be used.

IV. The current course, used from 2000 to the present, was developed after the 1999 race. Since rough measurements indicated that expanding one of the laps would produce enough distance, it was decided to invent an "elbow", including Old Fridinger Mill Road and a stretch of Fridinger Mill Road. Assuming that the first four miles would be the same as on the previous course, course measuring began on Beggs Road. With a right turn on to Old Fridinger Mill Road, the measurement yielded a five mile mark on Old Fridinger Mill Road, a six mile mark on Fridinger Mill Road prior to the Beggs Road intersection, and a seven mile mark near the starting area. After passing the starting line, the course followed the first loop until Beggs Road exited the woods at Old Fridinger Mill Road. Turning left at this point and at the intersection with Old Bachman Valley and Fridinger Mill Roads produced a thirteen mile mark just prior to the warehouse. The additional distance was obtained by moving the finish line to the driveway leading to the Meyers farmhouse.

Steve Kartalia set the male masters record in 2005 with a time of 1:15:55, and Bea Marie Altieri set the women's open record in 2006 with a time of 1:23:50. The fastest male open time on this course was recorded by Jim Lebo in 2001. His time of 1:12:08, which was the winning time by twelve minutes, is second only to that of Scott Douglass. The fastest women's masters time on this course was recorded by Lisa Warren in 2002. Her time of 1:33:30 is second only to that of Ann Mechley.

Unless something drastic happens, the WRRC hopes to continue to use this course for a long time. The combination of parking areas, rest room facilities, and the multiple use of marshalls and water stations on the two loops would be hard to duplicate in a place accessible to the many visiting runners.

Race directors
Frank Schaeffer (1984)
Jay Hammond (1985-1986)
Frank Baylor & Jenny Teeter (1988-2002)
Bill and Meredith Long (2003-2005)
Bethany Scherbarth (2006)
Beth Weisenborn (2007-2012)

Ben Brown, Kim Buhrman & Steve Kartalia (2013-2017)