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(Enlarge) Runners participate Saturday in the installation's Earth Day 5K Run and One-Mile Walk at Burba Park. Nearly 430 people competed in the opening run of the 2012 Fort Meade Run Series. (Photo by Jason Kelly)

Quinn Tompson was eager to begin training for October's Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C., but had to wait for warmer weather before he could hit the streets to prepare.

"I hated wintertime because there was no running," the long-distance runner said. "Now that winter is over and spring is coming, I can start my training."

Tompson was one of the nearly 430 runners who kicked off the fourth season of the Fort Meade Run Series with the Earth Day 5K Run and One-Mile Walk at Burba Lake.

"This was the largest turnout in the history of our run series," said Lauren Williams, acting chief of Athletics, Fitness and Aquatics for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Saturday's run was the first of seven races that will be held at various locations on post throughout the year.

"I am so excited," said runner Lou Tomsic. "I'm very excited the run series is back."

With the temperature in the low 60s and the sun shining down on the course, Tomsic spent his pre-race preparations debating whether to wear long sleeves. He ultimately decided the slight chill was better than being hot.

"Perfect weather, I ordered this weather," he said. "It's awesome."

Participants included veteran runners, those looking to knock off some cobwebs before longer races and novices taking their first shot at a 5K.

Pasadena's Stacey Lisiecki was competing in her first 5K Saturday morning. Although she is just beginning to run competitively, Lisiecki aimed to cross the finish line in under 25 minutes.

"You can walk it in 30 minutes," she said.

For runners such as Tompson who are preparing for longer races, the Run Series can be a training tool for more challenging runs later in the year.

"These runs are good setups for my training," Tompson said. "I enjoy running too, so this is just a good way for me to get up on the weekends."

Tomsic, who runs in races every weekend and at least three miles a day, entered the series to keep his running streak alive. Every year since 1976, Tomsic has finished first in at least one race. He also was aiming to cut his time down by a few minutes.

"I want my times to be so desperately back to the teens again," he said.

When the gun fired and runners were sent on their way at 8 a.m., they dashed through the installation around Burba Lake and then back to the park for the finish.

There was mild confusion at the end of the race, however, as race officials said runners strayed from the designated course.

Runners covered a little less ground, completing 2.9 miles instead of 3.1.

"We are aware of the issue of runners going off course and want to assure all our runners that we are working to improve the routes and directional signs," Williams said. "We are always looking to offer the best programs we can for our customers."

Andrew Ackley was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 17.08. Second-place finisher Anthony Rizzi came in just one second behind Ackley, finishing at 17.09.

Sarah Fischer, who sprinted across the finish line at 20.27, was the first woman to complete the race. Fischer finished nearly a full minute before runner-up Tresta Hall, who completed the race with a time of 21.02.

"That's my best time ever," Fischer said.

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