York River State Park 5K Run draws large crowd

Special to the Gazette

In the 14-year history of the Colonial Road Runners version of the York River State Park 5K Run, there has never remotely been the number of runners that turned up at the park last Saturday morning. Organized by the Walsingham Academy men’s and women’s cross country teams under coach Rich Higgins, along with Courtny Moulton of the Walsingham Events Office, the race had a remarkable 269 finishers in the 5K run/walk, and 17 finishers in the one mile fun run, a total of 286. The previous CRR high was 191 finishers in the 5K and 198 total.

For a number of years race director Charles Crone held a 5K race at York River State Park, as the Massey Cancer Center 5K, in conjunction with the Peninsula Track Club. But Crone eventually moved his race to the College of William and Mary campus, and the W&M men’s and women’s cross country teams used that event as a pledge run to generate thousands of dollars for the Cancer Center, and is still being held annually in early November.

After the Massey race left the state park, the CRR jumped in and coordinated their version of the York River State Park 5K, starting in 2004. The first two years it was held in October, was called the Harvest Days 5K, and was directed by David Lamson for the Williamsburg AIDS Network, with 141 5K finishers in 2004 and 76 in 2005. In 2006 it moved to its now traditional last Saturday in August race date, and was called the Estuary Days 5K that year (in conjunction with the park’s annual festival), then became the York River State Park 5K the next year. The Williamsburg AIDS Network coordinated the race through 2008, and had 126 5K finishers in 2006, 142 in 2007, and 130 in 2008. The event now benefits the Walsingham Athletic Booster Club and Friends of York River State Park.

The Spirit Works Foundation, with Jan Brown the race director, took on the race for the next five years, from 2009 through 2013 and had 126 finishers in the 5K in 2009, 118 in 2010, 88 in 2011 (when it was “pre-poned” to Friday evening to avoid Hurricane Irene’s arrival the next afternoon), 64 in 2012 (when heavy rain before and after limited the turnout), and 73 in 2013.

Race director Craig Wortman and the Lafayette High cross country team was next to direct the YRSP event, after directing the William and Mary Homecoming 5K Run the previous years. The YRSP turnout had a huge jump in 2014, to the then record 191 finishers in the 5K and seven in the fun run, for a total of 198. In 2015, Lafayette’s last year with the event, they had 162 in the 5K and 15 in the fun run, a total of 177.

Higgins and Walsingham became the race director in 2016, with 147 in the 5K, and a record 20 in the fun run that year. Throughout all the years, from 2004 to now, it has remained a CRR Grand Prix event, one of 20 GP races in 2017.

The main reason for this year’s record turnout is the participation of eight high school cross country teams, using the event as a pre-season “scrimmage” race. Walsingham, Peninsula Catholic and Veritas (of Richmond) all had over 20 participants, and Warhill, New Kent, Tabb, Hampton Roads Academy and Summit Christian (of Yorktown) each had between 10 and 15. The New Kent boys (under coach Irene Bierie) was first in the boys’ team scoring, with Veritas second. Walsingham dominated the girls’ team scoring, with Veritas again second.

Roger Hopper, 26, of Norfolk easily won the men’s race in 16:51, well on his way to his third consecutive CRR Grand Prix men’s title, with James Kastelein, 15, of Richmond (and Veritas) second in 18:08, and Patrick Johnson, 15, of New Kent third in 18:25.

For the women, the narrow winner was Katherine Sasse, 13, of Richmond (and Veritas), winning in 21:18.0, a step ahead of Tabb High assistant cross country coach Emily Honeycutt, 26, of Newport News (21:18.6). Third was Frankie Riggs, 16, of Williamsburg (and Walsingham) in 21:48. Sasse broke by one second the race record for women 14-and-under, the previous mark of 21:19 from 2015 by Kasandra Aulenbach, a Tabb High runner.

The Walsingham girls, one of the top high school teams in Virginia, had five of the top ten women overall, with Frankie Riggs (3rd, 21:48), Delaney Riggs, 17 (4th, 21:48), Catherine Schumacher, 17 (6th, 22:16), Clare Kinney, 16 (8th, 23:27) and Emma Lobash, 13 (10th, 23:34), along with Grace Vidlak, 17 (13th, 23:56). Non-Walsingham women in the top ten were Kim Decker, 35, of Williamsburg (5th, 21:53), Bruton freshman Nina Parziale, 15 (7th, 23:04) and Rose Crist, 62, of Lanexa (9th, 23:29). Crist smashed the previous women’s 60-64 record of 25:30 (by Carol Talley in 2015) by two minutes.

Two other age group marks were broken. Steve Chantry, 62, of Williamsburg ran 18:57 to better his own men’s 60-64 mark (19:09 in 2015) by 12 seconds. He already owns the 50-54 (17:20 in 2007) and 55-59 (17:54 in 2011) marks. Ernest Schillinger, 85, of Williamsburg ran a 40:53 to establish an 85-and-over mark. He already has the 80-84 record of 39:46 from 2016. Just missing a record was Judy Stewart, 78, of Williamsburg, who ran 38:09, just two seconds slower than the women’s 75-79 record of 38:07, by Ann Manciagli in 2011.

There were a total of 100 boys and 55 girls in the 19-and-under age categories, a total of 155 of the 269 finishers. For the boys, there were 48 in the 14-and-under division, and 52 in the 15-19. For the girls, there were 32 in the 14-and-under and 23 in the 15-19.

In the age graded scoring, compiled by CRR statistician Jim Gullo, there were four over the national class level of 80%, an additional six over 75%, and a total of 17 over the regional class level of 70%. Leading the way was Chantry (85.66%), followed in the top ten by Robert Whitaker, 58, of Yorktown (19:02, 82.57%), Crist (80.91%), Greg Dawson, 51, of Williamsburg (5th overall, 18:32, 80.22%), Wayne Parfitt, 52, of Newport News (18:52, 79.42%), Hopper (77.05%), Will Murray, 61, of Williamsburg (21:07, 76.24%), Sasse (75.67%), Randy Shelton, 42, of Mechanicsville (4th overall, 18:30, 75.14%) and Ken Alberg, 56, of Suffolk (20:34, 75.12%).

Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.

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