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Vol. LVIII, No. 21
October 20, 2006
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‘Great Way to Bond’
23rd Institute Challenge Relay Features Most Teams Ever

On the front page...

Caryn Steakley had never run a race before, so a half-mile course—under competitive conditions, no less—seemed daunting. But after dropping more than a hundred pounds over a 2-year period, she was determined to undertake her next big hurdle: NIH’s 2006 Institute Challenge Relay Race.

First Steakley decided to go into training. Perfecting a sales pitch heavy on enthusiasm, she solicited a little help from her friends—all fellow employees of the Center for Cancer Research and all seasoned runners. “They kept me going,” she said later, after her team, Ragin’ Agin CCRers, completed the race in 18:40. “They were all so supportive of me. And I finished!”

Continued...


  Dr. Pierre Noel outlines NIH panflu readiness plans.  
  Dr. Pierre Noel outlines NIH panflu readiness plans.  

Steakley’s excitement was contagious and freshman NIH’er Laura Otten caught the fever. A member of CCR Screamers and one of about a dozen runners Steakley recruited to run in the Sept. 21 relay, Otten enjoyed the event enough to email organizers: “I want to thank you and all of the organizers and volunteers for your hard work in organizing and hosting the NIH Relay yesterday,” she wrote. “I am a new employee (day 14!) and was tapped to fill in for an injured colleague. I had a blast! What a great way to bond with my new colleagues and also to meet so many people from all over the NIH campus. I’ll look forward to participating in this event again next year!”

FNIH board chairman Dr. Charles Sanders (l) spoke, along with NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, at the recent Biomarkers Consortium announcement at the National Press Club.
R&W President Randy Schools lays out ground rules for the race before the first heat begins.

Top:
The annual Institute Challenge Relay brings together employees from all across NIH.

Below:
R&W President Randy Schools lays out ground rules for the race before the first heat begins.

Founded by the NIH Health’s Angels (a campus running club now defunct), the relay is organized chiefly by staff and volunteers of the Recreation and Welfare Association, although a few members of the Angels are still around to time racers. R&W President Randy Schools says Otten’s comments reflect “one of the best reasons we do the race.”

About 118 teams registered to compete this year, with 107 actually completing the race. The average number of teams to race over the last few years has been about 80-90. Runners came from as far away as NIH’s Baltimore campus to compete. With so many teams, the race was run in two heats.

R&W President Randy Schools lays out ground rules for the race before the first heat begins.
Sporting tie-dyed Ts, members of Team #3—the Ragin Agin CCRers—Giovanna Tosato (c) and Dan Fowler complete the baton exchange, as teammate Caryn Steakley cheers them on.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the 5-lap race may be coming up with a team name. There has never been a lack of creative monikers and the 2006 event was no different, with such teams as Half-Athlons, Eye Run Fast, Assay Kickers, I Zinc I Can, eNIGMaS, Inverse Insertions in the ARS, Kiss Meiosis Again and Nutso Fast all toeing the start line.

In addition to the camaraderie and spirit of competition, Mother Nature also provided a big incentive to take part in the event. No one could remember a crisper, clearer or cooler day to sprint a partially uphill circuit around Bldg. 1 at high noon.—

Off and running: The relay’s first heat began a little before noon on Sept. 21.
Off and running: The relay’s first heat began a little before noon on Sept. 21.
The costumed Eccentrifuges include (from l) Mirkka Janka-Juntilla, Frank Comer, Lakshmi Balagopalan, Rishi Surana and Kelsie Bernot. They were dressed as falcon tubes—a graduated cylindrical, plastic container with a conical bottom and a blue cap (hence the blue mouse-room caps). “Falcon tubes are placed in centrifuges,” explained Balagopalan. “Once the centrifuge is turned on, the tube rotates around a fixed axis, analogous to our running around Bldg. 1 for the relay—many layers of complexity to our name and outfits! We are realistic—we knew we wouldn’t come first in the relay. So instead we opted for the other path to glory—geeky humor. Surprisingly, we came in 30th out of 107 teams with a respectable time of 16:46.”
The costumed Eccentrifuges include (from l) Mirkka Janka-Juntilla, Frank Comer, Lakshmi Balagopalan, Rishi Surana and Kelsie Bernot. They were dressed as falcon tubes—a graduated cylindrical, plastic container with a conical bottom and a blue cap (hence the blue mouse-room caps). “Falcon tubes are placed in centrifuges,” explained Balagopalan. “Once the centrifuge is turned on, the tube rotates around a fixed axis, analogous to our running around Bldg. 1 for the relay—many layers of complexity to our name and outfits! We are realistic—we knew we wouldn’t come first in the relay. So instead we opted for the other path to glory—geeky humor. Surprisingly, we came in 30th out of 107 teams with a respectable time of 16:46.”
NIH Whistleblowers: A couple of Art’s Army members toot along with Dr. Richard Wyatt, assistant director of the Office of Intramural Research, who started the relay.
2006 Relay Results—Top 25
Place
Name
Time
1
Proud Snail Hunters 13:59
2
Bolting Electrons 14:25
3
Wurtz Possible Runners 14:34
4
Catch Me If You Can 14:51
5
Blair Swift Project 15:03
6
Asthma Attacks 15:13
7
Figg Leaf 15:14
8
The Nitros 15;20
9
Roundabouts 15:22
10
Atroglide 15:30
11
Fruits and Nuts 15:37
12
Run for Fun 15:49
13
Natural Winner Cells 15:52
14
Waisted Kinetics 15:54
15
Running Buffers 16:01
16
Running Averages 16:02
17
Racy Ears 16:03
18
Big and Benign 16:10
19
Go Fish 16:15
20
Lethal Factors 16:15
21
Running Without Sox2 16:25
22
CD Four Runners 16:25
23
5’ RACErs 16:35
24
V “Eye” P 16:39
25
Mobile Side Chains 16:39

Above:
NIH Whistleblowers: A couple of Art’s Army members toot along with Dr. Richard Wyatt, assistant director of the Office of Intramural Research, who started the relay.

Below:
Team #1, the Silvo Bullets, slap high-fives as the anchor runner crosses the finish line.

Team #1, the Silvo Bullets, slap high-fives as the anchor runner crosses the finish line.
Winners once again: Proud Snail Hunters (from l) Greg Schuler, Jack Logue, Christiam Camacho, Kathi Canese and Patricia Zerfas return to the winner’s circle with a finishing time of 13:59 after placing 2nd last year.
Bolting Electrons (from l) Jennifer Gillette, Rachid Sougrat, Adam Bennett, Nadia Bouhzam and Guida Landoure came in at 14:25 to capture 2nd place.
Wurtz Possible Runners (from l) Bruce Cumming, Okihide Hikosaka, Ralf Haefner, Hendrikje Nienborg and Allie Griswold took 3rd place, crossing the finish line at 14:34.

Top:
Winners once again: Proud Snail Hunters (from l) Greg Schuler, Jack Logue, Christiam Camacho, Kathi Canese and Patricia Zerfas return to the winner’s circle with a finishing time of 13:59 after placing 2nd last year.

Center:
Bolting Electrons (from l) Jennifer Gillette, Rachid Sougrat, Adam Bennett, Nadia Bouhzam and Guida Landoure came in at 14:25 to capture 2nd place.

Bottom:
Wurtz Possible Runners (from l) Bruce Cumming, Okihide Hikosaka, Ralf Haefner, Hendrikje Nienborg and Allie Griswold took 3rd place, crossing the finish line at 14:34.

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