March 17, 2002 – Two hundred and twenty- four females wore the green Sunday, large green numbers pinned on their shirts as they ran, jogged, walked or, in some cases, strolled, the two-mile course around the Roy L. Schneider Hospital celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Women's Jogger Jam.
And a fine afternoon it was. Sunny, light wind, a perfect way to wear the green. The annual event starts and ends at the Fruit Bowl in Wheatley Shopping Center, where all the action is before and after the race, with water, watermelon slices, oranges, moral support, prizes and the guys, who are only allowed to help out -– they can't race. It is sponsored by the St. Thomas Association of Roadrunners (STAR).
"That was a problem at the first race," reflected LaVerne Ragster who was instrumental in initiating the first Jogger Jam. Ragster taught an aerobics course at the then-College of the Virgin Islands and was a member of STAR.
"It was a new concept, just having women," she said. "We just needed the men for logistical support." And how it has worked. The event raises money for the Victim Advocate program, and for every runner who crosses the finish line, the Fruit Bowl throws in $5.
Several of Ragster's cohorts from the first year were present Sunday. Toni Jackson was helping on the sidelines, and Joy Boyd and Debbie Davis ran their 20th. For the first one two decades ago, "I had just quit smoking," Boyd said, "and I was taking Dr. Ragster's aerobics class when she got the idea for the race, so I was all for it."
Sunday, there were lots of first timers. Jane Immel of Immel's Marine felt she "had to do it." "My daughter has talked me into this four-mile walk over a bridge in Charleston, South Carolina," Immel said, "so I have to get in shape." Immel, along with the whole gaggle of racers, was wiping her face, and puffing afterwards. "And this is my 40th wedding anniversary," she said. "I hadn't planned exactly to spend it this way."
Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds allowed it was her fourth or fifth race. "But don't talk to me," she said; "talk to my mother. She finished ahead of me." The petite, 80-year-old Viola Simmonds looked up just in time to hear her name called for a prize, which she marched off to collect.
She came back all smiles. "Yes, I enjoyed the walk," she said. How does she stay in shape? Does she walk every day? "Oh no, not really," she said with a smile. "I just walk when I need something. I live by Fifth Street, and if there's something I want in town, I go get it."
Marcia Paiewonsky made her first run Sunday, accompanied by her daughter, Anna, who has jogged several times in the past. "Did you talk your mother into it?" Anna was asked. "Oh, no," she replied. "It was her idea."
Kathy Schlesinger and her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Allison, came strolling toward the end. Schlesinger is seven months pregnant. "This is Allison's third race," she said, "first in a backpack, then a stroller, and now on her own."
There was the usual compliment of toddlers in strollers, including a wagon bearing twins whose mother brought up a smiling just-about-last place.
Although the event isn't really supposed to be a "race," it tends to bring out the competitive spirit, with lots of high fives and congratulations called out over the finish line.
The top 10 finishers were:
Ruth Ann David 11:28
Kim Fitzpatrick 12:41
Charley Charles 13:05
Lorna Squyer 13:19
Grace Tuma 13:52
Eleanor Qualls 14:04
Heidi Wynter 14:11
Kimberly Engeman 15:00
Kathy McMurtrie 15:10
Lisa Wear 15:21

Editor's note: Complete results will be posted in Local Sports as soon as they are received.
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