The Mike Sterling 10K Race has been a fixture in Crisfield since its inception in 1980, the event is held every Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the annual National Hard Crab Derby. This Saturday, Sept. 3 the race will be celebrating its 43rd running.
PJ Purnell was instrumental in getting the event off and running, with the assistance of Charles Kraft, Larry Sterling, John Samus, John Robertson and Lloyd Tyler. Jogging became very popular during the 1970s and ’80s, races like this were established all across the country. Ron Purnell, Jack Paul and a trio of Steves — Steve Corbin, Steve Flaherty and Steve Raab — have chaired the event over the years.
John Phoebus and Kristy Hickman became co-chairs in 2019, under their leadership electronic timing has been installed. It became a necessity, the event reached record numbers, over 200 last year making it impossible to keep track of that many runners and walkers under the old system.
The course has changed several times during its 43 year run. Originally the event started and finished at the old elementary #3 school, a site now occupied by Food Lion. A new course was mapped out in the late 1990s following a brief term at Janes Island State Park. Today the starting line is at the City Dock (depot). The course traverses through the marina down into Landon’s Point, past Woodson to Asbury Avenue and eventually reaching the dual highway at Ward’s Crossing, back to the depot.
It’s a 10K run, one of the few remaining events of that distance. A 5K walk is also featured. The 10K Ruck, in which the competitors carry 20 extra pounds on their backs, is a more recent addition. Defending champions include Maria Miller who was the overall winner last year followed by Matt Berggren top male; Mike Ennis, Ruck; Mitchell Sterling top male walker; and Natalie Marie Sterling top female walker. Daniel Smart won the Lank Parks Award for being the top local finisher.
Running Was The Difference for Mike Sterling
To say that running has been a major factor in Mike Sterling’s life would be a gross understatement. “Running saved my life” could be Sterling’s motto, who admits that he struggled growing pains as a teen.
“I didn’t get along with teachers and authority figures, no long-range goals,” Sterling said. In the summer of 1977 Mike developed an interest in running, he participated in various road races and discovered he had a flair for it.
Sterling wanted to compete in high school but Crisfield High School did not carry a cross country or track program, so he participated as an individual winning 5 State titles in cross country and track in 1978 and ’79. Sterling was granted a full track scholarship to UMBC on the basis of his outstanding achievements unmatched by any Bayside athlete.
The 10K organizers named the Labor Day event after Sterling, the race was originally dubbed the Crisfield marathon.
To take part in this year’s event visit https://runsignup.com/Race/MD/Crisfield/MikeSterling10k5k