Sue Crowe won the Bonne Bell 10-kilometer run yesterday, but in the wake of her triumph came near disaster for two area women who were hospitalized with heat-related conditions.
Crowe, 29, of State College, Pa., beat the high humidity, which reached 84 percent by the 8 a.m. starting time. She completed the 6.2-mile course through West and East Potomac parks in 36 minutes 6 seconds, 1:39 off her best for the distance.
Marge Rosasco of Fallston, Md., was runner-up 22 seconds behind and Diane Miller, 27, of Springfield, was next in 37:02.
The weather took its toll on nearly every one of the 2,492 women who started this eighth running of the largest all-women's race in Washington. One contestant suffered heatstroke; the other had heat exhaustion.
Alfreda Gourdine of Silver Spring was listed in critical but stable condition last night in George Washington University Hospital's intensive care unit with heatstroke, according to Clara Fiore, speaking for the hospital. Fiore said Gourdine, 31, an assistant cafeteria manager at Howard University Hospital, passed out near the end of the race because she had not been drinking enough fluids to replace those she was losing through sweat.
"When the medics came, she was breathing but they couldn't get her to respond," said Joann Azzarello, a member of Washington RunHers Unlimited, an all-women running club that organized the race. "They asked her what her name was and they looked in her eyes, but they never got her to respond verbally."
"She was unconscious when we took her (in the ambulance) and partly conscious when we left her at the hospital," said Harold Driscoll, a D.C. emergency medical technician for the Red Cross First Aid Corps.
Fiv Westin, 21, of Washington was also a victim of the humidity. Fiore said Westin was treated for heat exhaustion and released.
"The humidity was terrible," said Rosasco, who for the fifth time in the history of the race took second place. "You couldn't breathe."
Crowe and Rosasco have raced head to head numerous times in the last five years. They met again after two miles yesterday, turning the race into a two-woman showdown.
Crowe put an end to the surging game she was playing with Rosasco at the 4 1/2-mile point, stretching her lead to 50 meters by five miles and 150 meters at the finish.
Said Rosasco: "We were sortof . . . "
" . . . trying to break each other," Crowe said.
"It was really tough and I think it affected our times," Rosasco said.
"I thought I would pick it up at about four miles because she has a good kick," Crowe said. "She's outsprinted me too many times."
Heatstroke is caused by a severe disturbance of the body's temperature-regulating mechanism and is a profound emergency with a mortality rate ranging from 25 to 50 percent. It is caused by exposure to excessive heat and marked by dry skin, vertigo, headache, thirst, nausea and muscular cramps.
Heat exhaustion represents a somewhat less severe situation. It is a response to salt and water loss.