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October 20, 2017
AN UPHILL CLIMB
Relay Changes Course, But NeuRUNS Win Again

Runner smiling
You’d smile too if you were on winning team.

The race to the finish was a bit tougher than in years past. It was a sunny, breezy afternoon on Sept. 28 when 105 spirited teams participated in the 34th NIH Institute Relay. But while most previous relays looped around Bldg. 1, this year’s event was relocated due to construction. The new route behind the Clinical Center was significantly shorter but the last runner of each team had to run up an incline to the finish line.

“It was tough but fun,” said Dr. Tom Bulea, a biomechanics scientist who ran with team RM Dangerous. “This course was shorter, but it was hard to pace. I wish the finish wasn’t uphill!”

His teammate Rachel Eisenfeld, a pedorthist who works in the CC’s rehabilitation medicine department, agreed. “It would’ve been hard to sprint the whole time,” she said. “You had to plan your speed.”

Each runner traveled 500 meters around the Clinical Center’s south lawn and 10-H parking lot before passing the baton to 1 of 5 teammates. The usual Bldg. 1 course was longer, at 800 meters per runner, but on mostly level ground.

“It was really fun. The ramp going uphill at the end was quite challenging, but we want some challenge in a short run,” said Trinh Pham, a researcher in NCI’s pathology lab and member of team Volleyball JJIRT. His teammates work at different ICs but play volleyball together on campus after work three times a week.

Top Ten Finishers
Charm City NeuRUNS6:56
Running Gels7:38
Hertz So Good7:40
NCATS Me If You Can7:57
Blood, Sweat and Swole7:58
Law School Rejects8:05
Gene Team Supreme8:08
FABulous ReMeDy8:11
Wurtz Possible Runners8:35
Volleyball JJIRT8:38

Another team from multiple ICs was Cirque de Sore Leg, a group of contractors who raced together for the first time. “It was great to get outside for a bit,” said Kyle D’Amico, an animal care technician with NEI. “I have not trained for this. I’m just doing this for fun.”

But one team that did train, quite rigorously, showed up ready to win and had the fastest time 2 years running. NIA’s Charm City NeuRUNS finished the relay with a time of 6:56. The second and third place teams, NICHD’s Running Gels and NIDCD’s Hertz So Good, finished just two seconds apart, clocking in at 7:38 and 7:40.

“Beginning in May, we ran together twice each week,” said Dr. Mark Mattson, a senior investigator and lab chief at NIA who ran with and coached the NeuRUNS. Every Wednesday before work, they’d do an early morning high-intensity run at a nearby high school track. On weekends, they did a 90-minute trail run at different state parks in Baltimore.

“Some of the research in my lab is aimed at understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which exercise benefits brain health,” said Mattson. “Such mechanisms are fully engaged in these creative and productive postbac and postdoc fellows on my relay team this year.”

At this year’s relay, racers (l) show off jovial spirits before taking off from a new starting point CC’s south entry (r).
At this year’s relay, racers (l) show off jovial spirits before taking off from a new starting point,
CC’s south entry (r).

PHOTOS: MARLEEN VAN DEN NESTE

Many relay runners said they hike or bike or hit the gym regularly to stay in shape. Amanda Crinks with NCI’s Hemoglobintrotters said they all run regularly, just not usually together.

runners labor along the new course
Runners labor along the new course.

And some came purely for fun to jog or walk the course, such as CSR’s Snailin’ Along and Baby Got Track. CSR director Dr. Richard Nakamura also participated with some of his deputy directors on a team called Review Directives.

“We usually walk a lot,” said Nikon Hill-Coston, an extramural support assistant from Snailin’ Along. “We’ve never done this before so we’re excited in a don’t-fall-on-your-face kind of way.”

NIAID’s Pox Jox have been running the relay every year since the relay began, with rotating members. Said Pox Jox’s newest member, postbac Shira Glushakow-Smith, “It was a lot of fun to do non-lab stuff, relax with my section and represent my institute.”

As in years past, the relay was sponsored by the R&W Association and ORS’s Division of Amenities and Transportation Services.

 Finishing first was NIA’s Charm City NeuRUNS. From left Keelin Moehl, Yuki Kishimoto, Nate Ghena, Coach Mark Mattson, David Freeman and Aileen Rivell.
Finishing first was NIA’s Charm City NeuRUNS. From left Keelin Moehl, Yuki Kishimoto, Nate Ghena, Coach Mark Mattson, David Freeman and Aileen Rivell.

From left, placing second was NICHD’s Running Gels (from l) Fabio R. Faucz, Laura C. Hernández-Ramírez, Giampaolo Trivellin, Andreas Giannakou and Edra London. In third place was NIDCD’s Hertz So Good (from l) Christian Faaborg-Andersen, Connor Hill, Czarina Ramos, Nora Welsh and Randall Harley.
From left, placing second was NICHD’s Running Gels (from l) Fabio R. Faucz, Laura C. Hernández-Ramírez, Giampaolo Trivellin, Andreas Giannakou and Edra London; in third place was NIDCD’s Hertz So Good (from l) Christian Faaborg-Andersen, Connor Hill, Czarina Ramos, Nora Welsh and Randall Harley.

Gallery

NIBIB fielded three teams in shirts of varying color--Trailblazin’ in the Pink, Lightning Trailblazers and HiEnergy Trailblazers. “The NIBIB Trailblazer is our unique R21, only available to PIs who are classified by NIH as new investigators for the R01,” explained Dr. Steven Zullo, NIBIB program officer. Shown are (from l) Michael Cheetham, Tiffani Lash (volunteer), Zullo, Shumin Wang, Mark Murdock, Brandon Pleasants, Sarah King, Neda Sadeghi, Amritha Nayak, Aytaj Vily, Saltanat Satabayeva (runner and coach), Beth Hutchinson and NIBIB director Dr. Roderic Pettigrew. Not shown are runners Roberta Albert, Jason Ford, Alisha Hopkins, Joe Mosimann and volunteers Shaun Sims, Barbara Cantilena, Shirley Coney-Johnson and Christel Richardson.
Mass Spectacular is (from l) Mohsin Khan, Pauline Kaplan, Casey Daniels, Joseph Gillen and Arthur Nuccio.
The ‘Hot’shots are (from l) Tianbo Jiang, Brittni Moore, Emily Jones, Kurt Berckmueller and Santhana Webb.
Baby Got Track is (from l) Amy Wernimont, Daniel Koscinski, Amy Rubinstein, Wei-Qin Zhao and C-L Albert Wang.
Review Run and Roll includes (from l) Liyling Guo, Yvette Alston, Robert Alleyne, Craig Giroux, Melissa Tobe and Ghenima Dirami.
Gottesman’s Gang is headed by NIH deputy director for intramural research Dr. Michael Gottesman (third from l).
Team MMS is (from l) Rex Robison, Peter Seibert, Emir Khatipov, In-Hye Cho and Sarah Helson.
High Mobility Group includes (from l) Bing He, Yuhong Luo, Tingting Yan, Ravikanth Nanduri and Takashi Furusawa.
The Peppy Epis are (from l) Armen Ghazarian, Audrey Wellons, Danielle Daee, Elise Hoover and Gabriel Lai.
Run of A’s are (from l) Alison Hickman, Hae Seong Kim, Yongliang Zhang, Renbin Yang and Carrie Ann Davison.
Law School Rejects are (from l) Alison Treichel, Andrew Lum, Katherine Chen, Joseph Featherall and Jason Lau.
Cirque de Sore Leg includes: (top row) Selamawit Belda, Kyle D’Amico, Marcus Hearn, Rebeca Salmeron; (bottom row) Robert Allen.
Eyez on the Prize are (from l) Ryan Salvador, Rafael Villasmil, Anthony St Leger, Reiko Yamane and Jessica Wei.
Well, we told you there were some fast times.
Volleyball JJIRT includes (from l) Rogers Nahui-Palomino (NICHD), Ina Felau (NCI), Jennifer Zhu (NCI) Jens Kalchschmidt (NIAMS) and Trinh Pham (NCI).
The Clogged Arteries are (from l) Christopher Ramirez, Andrew Lachance, Matthew Bigman, Cristina Florio and Meghan Davis.
Four teams represented the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the relay. Several groups and disciplines from within the center’s Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation united to form “NCATS Me if You Can,” “Screen at Your Own Pace,” “ruNCATS” and “Running Our Assays Off”. Team members pose in front of 9800 Medical Center Dr. in Rockville before heading to campus for the race.

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