Warhill 8K rewrites the record books

It was all about the Grand Prix points at last Saturday’s Warhill 8K Run. That the race was even held was because of its Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix status, and two thirds of the entrants were regulars on the 2017 CRR Grand Prix circuit. Many were still vying for important points that would determine whether or not they won a yearly award.

Many Williamsburg-area runners focus their entire racing year on the Grand Prix.

This year’s CRR Grand Prix originally had 21 races scheduled, but a weather-related cancellation of the CDR SuperHero Vineyards 5K dropped that to 20. Twenty is a magic number for the CRR Grand Prix, in that the total number of races has remained at 20 or more since 2012 (the record is 23 in 2014).

The 13th annual Warhill Run, number 18 of 20 Grand Prix races for 2017 (only the Dec. 3 Christmas Town Dash 8K at Busch Gardens and the Sentara Sleighbell 5K on Dec. 9 remain), switched from a 5K to an 8K in 2014. Virginia Legacy’s youth soccer program organized the race until 2015 and the Tidewater Sharks organized the 8K in November 2016. This year, the Sharks informed the CRR they could no longer organize the race, so it eventually fell to CRR to own the race.

The club already organizes two annual races, the Queens Lake 5K in the spring, benefiting the CRR Scholarship Fund, and the Powhatan Creek Trail 5K in July, benefiting the CRR team travel fund. Enough club members offered their help at Warhill that they got the green light, but it was less than a month before the scheduled event.

Geri Elder of Colonial Sports designed and printed the T-shirts and race awards. Karen Schenck, already the race director of the CRR’s World Class Freedom Run 8K in October, helped out with the T-shirts and bib numbers for packet pickup and race day registration, along with refreshments. Rob Whitaker designed the entry form and coordinated the online and mail-in registration and spreadsheet. Thanks to a lead by David Anderson, a Peninsula Catholic parent, Kurt Weidman, an assistant cross country coach at Peninsula Catholic, came on board, and coordinated the course marshals, course setup and water stop.

As CRR president and race coordinator, I oversaw it all. For 2018, it’s likely that the PC cross country team will direct the Warhill race, after handling the course and water stop this year like a precision military campaign.

Although the entry totals were modest (52 finishers in the 8K, bettering the pre-race goal of 50 entrants, and slightly fewer than the 68 finishers in 2016), the competition was excellent, with nine women’s and six men’s age group records broken, and half of the race course records.

The Warhill Sports Complex course started at the far end of the soccer field service road, took a left onto the gravel and dirt Warhill Nature Trail, and did a full counterclockwise loop, with a 1-mile out-and-back on the asphalt recreational bike path to Longhill Road, before completing the loop, finishing next to WISC.

The top three men were all under 31 minutes: Greg Dawson, 52, of Williamsburg (30:29, breaking John Piggott’s 50-54 age group record of 30:47), Logan St. John, 23, of Williamsburg (30:52) and Corey Gray, 40, of Williamsburg (30:59). In the 31s were Jason Miller, 40, of Williamsburg (fourth, 31:18) and Rob Whitaker, 59, of Yorktown (fifth, 31:31).

With the win, Dawson clinched second place in the 2017 men’s Grand Prix, behind soon-to-be three-time men’s overall champion Roger Hopper, formerly of Williamsburg, now of Norfolk.

For the women Emily Honeycutt, 26, of Newport News, clinched the 2017 women’s Grand Prix title, her first, with her Warhill win (35:15). Second through fifth overall were Kim Decker, 36, of Williamsburg (37:24), Bruton High freshman Nina Parziale, 15, of Williamsburg (37:41), Karla Havens, 55, of Plainview (37:44) and Rose Crist, 62, of Lanexa (38:20).

All six overall award winners broke Warhill 8K five-year age group records (Dawson, St. John, Gray, Honeycutt, Decker and Parziale), along with Whitaker, Havens and Crist.

Other age group record breakers were Will Murray, 62, of Williamsburg (35:53), Rick Platt, 67, of Williamsburg (41:54), Jennifer Stevens, 47, of Smithfield (43:04), Patricia Travis, 66, of Williamsburg (48:19), Ann Hirn, 72, of Portsmouth (55:21) and Laura Liechti, 55, of Williamsburg (women’s race walk, 1:00:25).

On an-age graded basis, as compiled by CRR statistician Jim Gullo, those over 70% included Whitaker (81.97%), Crist (81.96%), Dawson (79.83%), Havens (76.15%), Will Murray, 62, of Williamsburg (35:53, 73.94%), Gray (71.44%), Steve Menzies, 54, of Williamsburg (34:31, 70.97%), and Miller (70.71%).

Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.

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