Both a race course and a charitable beneficiary had very successful debuts last Saturday morning at the inaugural WISC Gymnastics Flipping 5K run/walk, along with a one-mile color fun run/walk, held from the Billsburg Brewery/James City County Marina.
Most new Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix events are happy to break the three-digit barrier, but the WISC Gymnastics race, under the leadership of race director Caitlin Rudders, had more than double that number, with 140 finishers in the 5K and 73 finishers in the color run.
The color run started the day at 8 a.m. and utilized the untrafficked service road adjacent to Jamestown Road for the fun event, mostly for kids, starting at the beginning of the Virginia Capital Trail, with a half-dozen color stations en route on the out-and-back course.
The competitive 5K was next at 8:30 a.m., also starting at the beginning of the Virginia Capital Trail, but taking a right at the end of the 2/3-mile-long service road, into the scenic Landfall at Jamestown neighborhood, going out Landfall Drive to a turnaround point near the end of that road, and returning via Robert Fenton Road back to the service road, then a left to the marina entrance and a finish just before the Billsburg Brewery entrance.
Post-race activities, including a number of sponsor tents, were all held at the outdoor brewery activity area. The 5K course was fast and flat, with a slight downhill finish, leading to fast times despite the warm and humid conditions.
Roger Hopper, 27, of Norfolk, a three-time CRR men’s Grand Prix champion well on his way to his fourth title, won by 1 ¾ minutes with a time of 16:28.
Hopper has run eight CRR races this year, and won six of them, only losing at the two CRR prize money races, the Victory at Yorktown 10K (where he was third) and the Run the DOG 5K (where he was sixth in a PR 15:57, one second faster than his time at Queens Lake).
The next three across the line, all-sub-6:00 pace, were Matt Joossee, 38, of Williamsburg (18:13), Jason Miller, 41, of Williamsburg (18:18) and Greg Lynn, 44, of Hayes (18:24).
For the women, Emily Jakob, 22, of Williamsburg had her own successful debut, winning her first-ever CRR Grand Prix race in 19:25, followed by Thorin Jean, 17, of Williamsburg (20:02), Samantha Bradley, 30, of Newport News (20:30), Emily Honeycutt, 27, of Newport News (21:27), Sorenna Jean, 16, of Williamsburg (21:59), Jessica Stehle, 26, of Williamsburg (22:05), Kim Decker, 36, of Williamsburg (22:06) and Julie Myers, 28, of Norfolk (22:21).
Jakob’s competition was strong, as Thorin Jean won five previous CRR races in 2018, Myers (Hopper’s wife) won the First Colony 5K, Bradley won the Kingswood Klam 5K and Honeycutt was the 2017 CRR Grand Prix champion.
For 2018, Thorin Jean leads the women’s Grand Prix through 10 races with 65 points, followed by sister Sorenna (48), Decker (39) and Myers (26). However, it will be Jamestown High senior Thorin Jean’s final CRR race of 2018, as she starts her military service career at West Point on July 1.
She was one of five CRR Scholarship Award recipients, as the club awarded a record $4,500 in scholarships to five recipients.
The most impressive race of the day, though, came from 75-year-old Ben Dyer of Toano, who ran a time of 23:04, which broke his own all-time CRR record for men 75-79, a 23:12 at the Kingswood Klam 5K. It was also a pending Virginia state record for men 75-79, the current mark 23:17 by Tidewater Strider legend Cokey Daman, age 77, in 1996.
Although Dyer bettered that 23:17 with his 23:12 at Kingswood, that was on an accurate, but not USATF-certified course. New CRR course certification chairman Thomas Tate measured the Billsburg/Landfall at Jamestown course prior to the race to the exacting USATF measurement standards, and the paperwork has been submitted to the regional certification chairman.
Not surprisingly, Dyer was also the highest age-grade of the day, as compiled by CRR statistician Jim Gullo, earning a national class percentage of 81.29.
Thirteen others were above the regional class level of 70 percent including Hopper (78.85), Paul Pelletier, 52, of Williamsburg (19:19, 77.57), Lynn (76.63), Jakob (76.05), Miller (75.41), Thorin Jean (74.88), Joossee (74.20), Dave Coy, 44, of Williamsburg (19:04, 73.95), David Anderson, 48, of Williamsburg (20:10, 72.07), Bradley (72.03), Ken Sumrell, 57, of Williamsburg (21:54, 71.16), Harriet McCoy, 63, of Toano (27:10, 70.86) and Norma Phillips, 57, of Williamsburg (25:28, 70.22).
Jakob is working at the Colonial Sports retail store during the summer, then will start on her graduate degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology this fall at Springfield College. She did not pick up running until college, starting out at age nine as a competitive swimmer, and swimming year round through high school.
She commented “I started running in college, actually, as a way of building leg strength and endurance for horseback riding. I took a liking to it, and continued on from there.” She ran her 5K PR at Billsburg, but prefers the longer distances, especially the marathon, where she ran a PR 3:18:29 this year at Boston, despite the miserable rainy and cold conditions.
She also enjoys triathlons, where her favorite is the Half Ironman (with a PR 5:18:28 at Raleigh this year). She will race the full Ironman distance July 22 at Lake Placid.
All proceeds from the race benefited the WISC Gymnastics Competitive Team, helping provide scholarships to families in need, as well as club resources.
The race was also part of the Two River Challenge, the morning event in view of the Powhatan Creek, and the evening event the Peninsula Track Club’s Riverwatch on the Piankatank 5K in Gloucester. There were 26 who ran both races.
Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.