Mike Sterling 10K: A great way to kick off Labor Day Weekend

This race photo makes it look like I’m leading the pack. I actually finished 52nd of 87 in the 10K race, but I like the photo, provided free by the race.

On Labor Day Weekend — Crab Derby Weekend — I headed to Crisfield for my 11th annual Mike Sterling 10K. It was the 43rd running of the race.

I drove down on Saturday, Sept. 3, with Rose, who was running her first race ever. Plenty of our Eastern Shore Running Club friends also participated, and I also got to see Allison, who traveled from across the bridge and won the women’s 10K race. The event features a 10K run, 10K ruck and 5K walk (for that one, you have to walk to be eligible for awards).

I started out fast for me. Though I knew I didn’t belong in the front row (and I wasn’t that far up), there’s no timing mat at the start, so I wanted to get close without being in anyone’s way. I ran the first mile in 9:12, which I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up for the entire race. However, it did boost my confidence.

I already beat my 2020 and 2021 10K times earlier this year at the Run for the Animals 10K, so I made my goal for Mike Sterling to beat my time at Run for the Animals, which was 1:03:35 on my watch and 1:03:06 on the results. I figured something starting with 1:02 would be ideal (or faster, of course, but I was being reasonable).

Group of runners pose for a photo on the Crisfield City Dock.
Eastern Shore Running Club members gather for a photo before the Mike Sterling 10K on Sept. 3.
Selfie of Vanessa Junkin holding crab mallet that says "Mike Sterling 10K" on it.
I pose for a photo with my Mike Sterling 10K crab mallet.

I walked for the first time at the first water stop, which was around Mile 1.5 and at a turnaround. My friend (and Algonquin Ultras race dictator) Trent was working at the water stop with one of his kids. I saw a lot of friends on this out-and-back portion of the race. My friend Bob, who was also running, was cheering everyone on and seemed to have a lot of energy; around this time, he passed me.

I was still on pace to hit my goal around Mile 3, and I told myself I could walk at that mile. I ended up walking at about 3.1 miles and at another water stop, and then I had another walk break not too long after that.

Mile 5 was the hardest for me, and with three walk breaks, I brought my per-mile average down with a split of 11:51. I have nothing against walking, and I love doing run-walk intervals in training — I just don’t love feeling like I have to walk. I prefer to control my walks and walk when I want to, not when I need to. I was struggling with coughing, a regular issue for me while running.

This race was a little more than a month ago, and I did a lot of running in September, so I am starting to catch up on blog posts now. Since this race, I have actually been able to get the coughing issue under control after getting a diagnosis of irritable larynx syndrome and working on breathing strategies while running.

With 1.2 miles left in the race, I picked the pace back up, although I still had to walk again. However, knowing the race was nearing its end, I was able to run my second-fastest mile for Mile 6 — 9:54 — and ran the last 0.2 in an 8:39 pace.

Vanessa Junkin poses in running clothes for a photo on the Crisfield City Dock, with water in the background.
I posed for a photo on the Crisfield City Dock.

I knew I was cutting it close to the time from the Run for the Animals, and I came in just over my time there, finishing in 1:03:53. However, I was still in the 1:03s, and I beat my last two Mike Sterling 10K times. Although it was not extremely hot, it was humid and sunny.

I got to meet some people I knew from online, and I had a lot of fun seeing so many friends. I also enjoyed hanging out with friends afterward and stuck around for the Crab Derby parade this year. The race swag was also appropriate for the Crab Capital of the World — in addition to a T-shirt, runners received a mallet with the race name.

This race always has nice awards for overall and age group winners, along with some great door prizes, such as running shoes, a bushel of crabs, crab meat and Smith Island cake. Unfortunately, I was not one of the speediest or luckiest winners this year. The race is also a great deal, at $25.

I always look forward to this race. The course is flat and takes runners by the water, through neighborhoods and along Crisfield’s main strip. The community of people is also amazing. John and Kristy do a great job directing this race!

Registration is already open for the 2023 race, which is Sept. 2, here.


Mile 1: 9:12
Mile 2: 10:21
Mile 3: 10:01
Mile 4: 10:49
Mile 5: 11:51
Mile 6: 9:53
Last part (0.2): 1:45 (8:39 pace)
Total: 1:03:56 / 10:19 pace on watch; 1:03:53 / 10:17 pace on results.

Check out my BibRave review — and write your own — here.

Group photo of Eastern Shore Running Club members by Mike Sterling crab pot arch finish line.
Here’s a post-race Eastern Shore Running Club group photo.

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