By Will Kitching
The largest field in the 10-year history of the St. Mark UMC Emancipation 5K took off running the Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend at McCullough Field. Runners from 7 to 73 took to the track to raise funds for diabetes patients living in Maryland, organizers said.
Columbia resident Luis Navarro, 45, set a blistering pace of 6:20 minutes per mile to win first place in the 5K (3.1 miles), while Heather Cannon, who came all the way from San Antonio, Texas, finished first in the women’s division and 5th overall, making quick work of the winding course at a 7:15 pace. The course is USA Track & Field certified and professionally timed by Cheetah Sports Timing, with each 5K runner having a timing chip in their race bib.
“We are very happy and pleased at the number of runners, walkers and sponsors who have funded this important cause, helping us support patients who often don’t have enough money for even their copays,” said Jackie Jones, who has served as race director during the event’s 10-year history, is diabetic.
Saint Mark United Methodist Church founded a community outreach program in 2012 to support diabetic patients who needed financial assistance and medical counseling. The Emancipation 5K event and donations from the community have raised thousands of dollars, Jones said, and proceeds go directly to the University of Maryland’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, at the university’s Medical Center Midtown Campus, in Baltimore. The center serves children and adults with diabetes throughout the region.
Keith Sydnor, a Laurel councilmember, took home the 3rd place ribbon in the 50-59 age bracket. Sydnor (Ward 2) was at the field early in support of the program, along with Councilmember James Kole (Ward 1).
“It’s an important community event where we can support those with diabetes,” Sydnor said. “I also think it’s a great program, one that I’m very proud to be a part of.”
TenableInc., a cybersecurity firm, had the largest corporate representation, with more than 30 runners in matching black T-shirts on the field. Organized by Tenable employee Khensani Carter, the team of runners and walkers were contagiously energetic and captured their share of ribbons in various divisions.
Pi’s Deli, Olive on Main, Chesapeake Bay Trust, the National Wildlife Federation, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and the city of Laurel all sponsored the event. Mark Plazinski, Laurel’s deputy chief of police, took home 2nd place in the 50-59 age bracket.
“Mark Plazinski participates in other St. Mark’s events,” Jones said. “He was a big help at our native plant giveaway on Mother’s Day. The giveaway is part of our Sacred Grounds project with the National Wildlife Federation. Laurel Police Department is big on community engagement.”
Put Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, on your racing calendar for next year and support this much-needed community effort to support patients with diabetes.