Newport News One City Marathon runners, spectators brave cold

From volunteer to runner

Newport News resident Maria Gorton ran her first Newport News One City Marathon after serving as a volunteer for previous events.

Gorton, who has 12 marathons under her belt, said before the race Sunday she felt the stereotypically unlucky No. 13 was going to be her best, especially since it was in her native city.

"It's fun to actually be running it. My daughter and I usually volunteer at water stop nine, mile 18. She's actually going to be up at a volunteer spot with CNU this morning and so I'll see her," Gorton said before Sunday's race.

Gorton ran with friend and fellow volunteer-turned-race participant Holly Cunningham, who shared in Gorton's excitement about participating as a runner.

"We always see this race run past our neighborhood so we volunteered for it and now we figured it's our turn," Cunningham said.

"I knew no matter how cold it got, we were going to be out here running."

— Natalie Joseph

Mom makes marathon a family affair

Sunday's marathon was the first One City race Caroline Dutle, an avid runner and trainer, didn't participate in.

Timing constraints got in the way of training this year, but she was at James River Drive and Warwick Boulevard 10:30 a.m. with her husband, Aaron, daughter, Agnes, son, Leo and dog, Reggie. They had been outside for about 15 minutes, telling runners to keep going.

"We like to hit the four-hour group because that's about our pace," Dutle said of her previous marathons, coffee in hand and bundled in winter gear.

"No matter what your physical ability is, it takes commitment to show up and run, especially on days like this."

— Reema Amin

Elvis sighting

Even Elvis showed up for Sunday's event.

Jeff Webb of First Baptist Church Newport News yelled words of encouragement, including, "You got it, baby," while dressed as Elvis Presley.

Webb said he has dressed as Elvis for the past three One City marathons. He handed out water in front of the church, which is along the course.

Catching almost everyone's attention in his white costume, black wig and red ascot, a few runners broke focus to yell, "Hey, Elvis."

"It's just a fun time to be out and meet people. We knew this was coming up so I had to dress up again. I've done this three now and it's just a natural thing for the church to come out and cheer people on," Webb said.

— Natalie Joseph

Nautical mile draw all ages

While many of the runners in the One City Marathon Nautical Mile were elementary school students, folks young and old enjoyed the race. William and Charlotte Lilley, both in their early 70s, said the race was as enjoyable as many of the scores in which they've competed.

"We've done a 10K in all 50 states," said William Lilley, who walks for the Peninsula Pathfinders. "It makes you appreciate that Americans can come together to enjoy something. It's great to see the energy the kids bring to the race and the fun they're having."

Andrew MacDonald, 7, and younger brother Jackson, 5, were two of those kids. Jackson, who felt his Batman beanie cap gave him speed, said it was fun being hugged by Chester The Crab after the race. Andrew, who posed with a Newport News sheriff's deputy for a photo after the race, echoed his brother in saying it was fun to see police cars at the finish line.

Kiersten Collins, 23, a Williamsburg James City County substitute teacher, won the female division in the mile, edging York County's Chiara Casetta, a Mt. Vernon Elementary third-grader.

"It feels good, because it's the first race I've ever won," said Collins, a full-time student pursuing an art therapy degree.

— Marty O'Brien

Standing-O

Stephanie Patterson, 36, of Franklin had two reasons for standing at the start line of the One City Marathon on Sunday morning.

The first: Her coworkers at the Hampton VA Medical Center had formed a marathon relay team; she agreed to run the first leg.

The second, the reason she started running in the first place: Her late husband, Marine Sgt. Jayton Patterson.

"My husband was killed in action in Iraq almost 12 years ago, and I started racing in his memory," Patterson said.

Patterson runs the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon every year in his honor, and last year she ran her first One City marathon relay.

"The Marine Corps Historic Half is probably my favorite race, but this is the second time I've done this one, so it's moving up the list," Patterson said.

— Kate Yanchulis

Family affair

Shawn Blair, 50, of Newport News has run about a dozen marathons. This year, his family decided to get in on the fun.

His son Connor, his daughter Erin and his ex-wife Heather Blair were tag-teaming the marathon relay with Shawn, who ran the first leg of the relay, about eight miles.

"They've always supported me in so many runs, so they wanted to do the relay," Blair said. "And I'm all for it. I think it's wonderful. This is the first time it's a family event."

— Kate Yanchulis

Running for Wounded Warriors

Laura Troupe dropped off her husband Doug Troupe at Newport News Park at 6 a.m. She then headed to the corner of Curtis Tignor Road and Warwick Boulevard to cheer for her husband and other runners in the cold weather.

Doug, a veteran who lives in Williamsburg, was running for Wounded Warriors.

"That's his cause and he likes to support them," Laura said. "After this he will be doing a relay race for gold star families in April. I'm so proud of him."

— Natalie Joseph

Relay team layers up

Shea Skinner and Shaundra Johnson participated as a team in the One City marathon relay.

The women began the race at 7 a.m., when the temperature was 31 degrees and finished around noon when it was about 32 degrees.

The relay team praised the race volunteers and organizers for assisting them through the unusually cold weather.

"They assisted with (the weather) very well by having the buses there at the schools and keeping them warm for us. I kept on layers until it was go time," Johnson said.

Both women lost a few articles of clothing along the course, but made sure to keep their gloves.

"We wore gloves, hats, earmuffs, but we had to shred them as we ran. We had about two layers of clothes and as we ran, we would just tie the stuff around our waist or just throw it when we got hot," Skinner said.

— Natalie Joseph

Hometown glory for local marathon runner

J.R. Blackrose woke up early Sunday to run his third One City Marathon.

He lives near the marathon's starting line at Newport News Park and was proud to run his 11th marathon in his home city because his family was there to cheer him on.

"Usually I run alone, but I like this race because it's where my family is and they can see me. They're out at a wave station and I can't wait to stop and see them," Blackrose said.

— Natalie Joseph

Friendly preparation

Jennifer Barr was looking out for a friend running in the marathon.

She sat for an hour in front of the Peninsula Fine Art Center, near her home, waiting to cheer him on — and to see if he needed extra supplies.

Barr brought water, a change of clothes, a change of shoes, a towel and a thermos of hot broth for her friend, in case he need it.

As she waited for his arrival, she kept busy by playing on her iPad and ringing her yellow cowbell at other runners as they ran by.

"We agreed to meet here just in case he needed anything. This is his third marathon here and I'm just staying warm and have really enjoyed this so far," Barr said.

— Natalie Joseph

Post-race treat

Holding neon green signs, Kimberly and Clark Hudgens awaited the arrival of their friends Tim and Alissa along the One City Marathon course.

Sunday was not Tim or Alissa's first go around in a marathon, but it was a first for the Hudgens.

"They told us they were running and asked us for support, so we came out to cheer for them and the other runners," Clark said.

The couple picked a spot where Shirley Drive meets Warwick Boulevard, one holding a sign with their friends' names and another sign with funny sayings.

Kimberly's sign read, "run now wine later."

"I made this sign because we plan on having a glass of wine after this. It's cold and we're all going to need one, especially them," Kimberly said.

— Natalie Joseph

Cheering distance runners

Eric Rooks said he's not really a distance runner — he sticks to 5 or 10Ks. On Sunday, he was near the Mariners' Museum to cheer on a couple people he knew running in the marathon and relay.

"I love running, and to come out and support the runners because this is not an easy task," Rooks said as another batch of runners closed in on Museum Drive.

He estimated about 300 runners had passed through his spot at Museum Drive and Avenue of the Arts by about 9:30 a.m.

— Reema Amin

Wife cheers on her husband and more

Around 9 a.m. at Hidenwood and Warwick, Leslie Kibathi checked the runner tracking app — her husband, Mugane, was about to pass by them as he ran his fifth marathon in 16 months. Leslie and her daughter, Sarah Kibathi, cheered on other runners as they waited.

"His (other) daughter was a really good track runner, and she went to college on a track scholarship," Leslie Kibathi said. "She bought her dad a pair of sneakers one day."

Leslie's other daughter convinced Mugane Kibathi, a former Marine, that he needed to get back in shape. Since November 2015, Mugane has run five marathons. Sunday was his second time at One City Marathon, Leslie Kibathi said. The family is from Harrisburg, Pa., about a six-hour drive from the Peninsula.

Around 9:05 a.m., Leslie spotted her husband and said with a smile, "There he is." She gave him a high five as he passed and told him the same thing she told the strangers: keep going.

— Reema Amin

First-timer

Huddled next to an outdoor heater during the One City One Celebration near Victory Arch were Halley and Jeff Alexander.

The couple traveled from Charlottesville so Halley could run in her first marathon. She missed her target time by 16 minutes, but her husband, who kept pace with Halley the whole race, said he is proud of her.

"The weather was actually pretty ideal and not as bad as I thought it would be. We missed our goal, but I'm still happy I did it," said Halley, who said she and Jeff stayed warm by dressing in layers.

"I still have a goal to beat so I'll be doing more. This race was really awesome. It's nice and flat, very well run and I will definitely be back next year."

— Natalie Joseph

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