It's amazing how little money it takes these days to lure some of the top runners to a road race.
With a first prize of $2,500 cash, the $12,000 Travel Run 10K yesterday in Crystal City attracted nearly every top runner in the area and a number of Olympians, nationally ranked road racers and collegiate champions. All were here to run for the money.
The result was probably the most competitive 10-kilometer race ever in the area. Eight men still were in contention at the midway point of the 6.2-mile race. Eighteen finished under 31 minutes.
Jeff Scuffins of Hagerstown and Patti McGovern of Washington took home the biggest paychecks -- $2,500 apiece -- by winning among a field of more than 600 runners. Sosthenes Bitok of Tarrytown, N.Y., and Doreen Ennis-Schwartz of Bloomfield, N.Y., received $1,000 each for finishing second. Ahmed Ismael of Fairfax and Carla Borovicka of Tallahassee, Fla., earned $500 apiece for third. The prize list went down to $75 for the 11th-15th man and $75 for the 6th-10th woman.
Scuffins, who graduated from North Hagerstown High in 1980 and Clemson two weeks ago, pulled even with Bitok at four miles and surged into a 50-meter lead in the next mile. Bitok never got closer and Scuffins won in 29 minutes 13 seconds, eight seconds in front of Bitok and 20 seconds ahead of Ismael.
"I kept glancing over my shoulder and (Bitok) was staying right there," said Scuffins. "I thought he was going to use me until the finish."
McGovern took over the lead from Borovicka after five miles and easily won in her second best 10-kilometer time of 34:10.