The major competition at Saturday’s sixth annual Toano Icy 8K Run came in sets of three. The men’s overall race featured three of the best road racers in the area, all in their 20s. The women’s overall battle saw three of the best Williamsburg high school runners vie for supremacy on the roads. And two age groups, the men’s 30-34 and men’s 40-44 had both fast and close competition in the first Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix event of 2018.
Last October at the World Class Freedom Run 8K, Yorktown’s Andrew Osborne ran a course record 26:15. Trailing by 46 seconds, in 27:01, was three-time CRR Grand Prix champion Roger Hopper of Norfolk. Two weeks later Osborne prevailed again at the Yorktown Battlefield 10 Miler, winning in 53:45, with Hopper runner-up, over two minutes behind in 55:52. And for their final match-up of 2017, Osborne won the Christmas Town Dash 8K in 26:44, with Hopper fourth overall in 27:18, 34 seconds behind.
Add William and Mary junior Patrick Wachter to the mix at Toano. A member of the student competitive running group, Team Blitz, Wachter has run one CRR race in each of the past three years. He ran 16:41 for third at the 2015 Governor’s Land 5K (Hopper was second in 16:25), then had a 16:40 at the 2016 DOG Street 5K (Hopper was again 16:25), and finally a second-place 16:33 at the 2017 Governor’s Land 5K (Hopper won in 16:05). Outside of Williamsburg, Wachter ran 34:33 at the 2016 Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, and 26:37 at the 2015 Richmond 8K. At William and Mary, his major is in history with a focus on American Indian history. In high school at Maggie Walker Governor’s School, he was an All-American in cross country at the 2014 Junior Olympic National Meet in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and ran a 2:03 split on the state-title-winning 4 x 800-meter relay. His 1,600-meter PR was 4:35, and his 3,200-meter PR was 9:55.
Based on previous runs, the Toano order of finish should have been Osborne-Hopper-Wachter. It didn’t happen that way, and that’s why you actually run the race. In an upset, Hopper, 27, crossed the Toano Middle School finish line first in a course record 26:07 (breaking the previous course record of 26:54 by Victor Flemming of Carrollton in 2014), a huge PR (Hopper had run 26:56 at Toano in 2016, his previous 8K best). Second went to Wachter, 20, of Williamsburg, also under the old course record, in 26:44. A full minute behind Wachter was Osborne, 24, third place in 27:44. Both Hopper (men 25-29) and Wachter (men 20-24) broke race five-year age-group records.
For the women, Jamestown High senior Thorin Jean, 17 (who holds the school records at both 5K cross country, and the track 3,200 meters) tied the women’s 15-19 race record with a time of 33:01 (last year’s winner, W&M student Victoria Reese had the first 33:01). Thorin won by more than two minutes over younger sister Sorenna Jean, 15, a Jamestown sophomore, who ran 35:09. In third was Bruton High freshman Nina Parziale, 15, who ran 35:55.
There were 124 finishers in the combined 8K run/walk and 5K run/walk, with 77 finishers in the 8K and 47 finishers in the fourth annual Frosty 5K Run. There were also 13 finishers in the one-mile fun run/color run. Only the 8K was a CRR Grand Prix event. The course was mostly flat, with a mild uphill stretch in the first mile on Church Lane, and two out-and-backs, one later on Church Lane and the other on Little Creek Road, just past three miles. The race director was Peggy Shiamone, and the event benefited the school’s parent-teacher-student association.
The men’s 30-34 age group had overall finishers 5-7-8, with James Hazelwood, 31, of Richmond (29:52), Steve Brewer, 32, of Newport News (30:22) and former Gloucester High runner Michael Sigmon, 30, of Lanexa (30:38), 46 seconds from first to third. Even closer competition, just 15 seconds from first to third in their age group, was the men’s 40-44 age group, with overall finishers 10-11-12, and where Jason Miller, 40, of Williamsburg in the final stretch came from 30 yards behind to out-kick Greg Lynn, 43, of Hayes (31:14) and Corey Gray, 40, of Williamsburg (31:19).
Another Jamestown High senior Alexa Halko, 17, of Williamsburg established an all-time CRR wheelchair record for the 8K distance, with a time of 28:46. The multiple Rio Paralympic medal winner already holds the all-time CRR record for 5K wheelchair, a 15:15 at Governor’s Land 2017. After graduating from Jamestown in June, Halko will be attending the University of Illinois, with a large group of pro and undergraduate para-athletes, training and racing for Team USA. Halko is coached by Drew Mearns, who also coaches the Toano Frosty 5K women’s race winner, Kasandra Aulenbach, 16, of Yorktown. Aulenbach’s 19:52 was 11 seconds short of the women’s 5K race record by W&M student Maura Finn in 2017. Aulenbach also won last October’s Governor’s Land 5K in 19:56. She age-graded 76.76 percent at Toano. The men’s 5K was won by Patrick Waller, 23, of Williamsburg (21:09).
Besides Hopper, Wachter and Thorin Jean, the other 8K race age group record was broken by Ann Hirn, 72, of Portsmouth, her 53:13 breaking by 19 seconds the 2013 women’s 70-74 record by Judy Stewart of Williamsburg.
On an age-graded basis, as compiled by CRR statistician Jim Gullo, three runners were over the national-class 80 percent level: Hopper (81.17 percent), Greg Dawson, 52, of Williamsburg (6th overall, 30:18, 80.31 percent) and Keith Schumann, 47, of Williamsburg (4th overall, 29:10, 80.11 percent). Over the regional-class level of 70 percent were Wachter (79.30 percent), Osborne (76.44 percent), Paul Pelletier, 52, of Williamsburg (32:01, 76.00 percent), Thorin Jean (74.56 percent), Rhonda Venable, 56, of Toano (39:08, 74.32 percent), Langston Shelton, 70, of Williamsburg (38:58, 73.52 percent), Lynn (72.47 percent), Sorenna Jean (72.45 percent), David Anderson, 48, of Williamsburg (71.46 percent), Jason Miller (71.24 percent), Hazelwood (71.09 percent), Parziale (70.90 percent) and Gray (70.68 percent).
Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.