Golf and tennis have their players-of-the-year honors. Baseball, football, basketball and ice hockey have most valuable player awards at the end of their pro seasons. So who would be the runner-of-the-year for the 2017 area road racing season, if that honor was added to the numerous awards (108 total) handed out at the Colonial Road Runners Awards Banquet, held at the end of January at the Windsor Forest Clubhouse?
An obvious place to start would be the CRR Grand Prix overall champions, Roger Hopper and Emily Honeycutt. Hopper did have eight race wins from the 12 CRR races he ran in 2017, but he lost three straight times to Andrew Osborne in the fall, including the Christmas Town Dash 8K. Adam Otstot had a faster 5K time (15:44 at DOG Street, compared to Hopper’s 16:05 yearly best at Governor’s Land), but that was Otstot’s only CRR race last year (Osborne had just two). Honeycutt ran 14 CRR races in 2017, but had just three wins. Greg Dawson was second overall in the men’s Grand Prix on his way to being one of the three Hall of Fame inductees for 2017.
But since the strength of the CRR is in its many regional and national-class age group standouts, the fairest way to determine a Runner-of-the-Year would be through age-graded rankings, and the CRR has for four years given out the top 10 age-graded plaque awards, based on the 10 best age-graded scores for the year, as compiled by CRR statistician Jim Gullo. Last year was, by far, the most impressive series of age grades ever for the CRR. With 70 percent considered regional class, 80 percent considered national class, and 90 percent world class, the CRR had four runners average over 80 percent for their top 10 races.
Prior to this year, only two runners had broken the 80 percent average for their top ten races. Victor Flemming won the 2014 CRR age-graded title with an 80.58 percent average, followed by Debbie McLaughlin (79.76 percent) and Greg Dawson (79.52 percent). Dawson won in 2015 with an 80.31 percent average, followed by McLaughlin (79.03 percent) and Ben Dyer (77.61 percent). In 2016, Dyer won the title with a 79.85 percent average, followed by McLaughlin (78.77 percent) and Dawson (78.57 percent).
For 2017, a total of four runners cracked the 80 percent average barrier, led by Steve Chantry, age 62, with a remarkable average of 86.81 percent, highlighted by his 89.52 percent at the First Colony 5K (a CRR men’s 60-64 all-time record of 18:08), 89.28 percent at the Sleighbell 5K (18:11), 88.38 percent at Governor’s Land (18:22) and 88.22 percent at Queens Lake (18:24).
That Chantry dominated the age-graded Grand Prix is no surprise, as he has exceeded the world-class 90 percent level a total of 39 times lifetime on the track or on the roads, far more than the combined total of all the other CRR runners ever. Chantry’s highest ever age grade was a 93.69 percent for running a 4:47.86 mile at age 57. The mile has been his best event, with one other over 93 percent and two over 92 percent. Chantry’s top 800-meter age grade was a 93.24 percent for running a 2:12.17 at age 57, and a 93.07 percent for a 2:08.12 at age 53, both national championship wins. On the roads, Chantry’s best is a 16:32 at age 54 for the 5K, good for 92.20 percent. Now age 63, Chantry’s goal for 2018 is to break the 18-minute barrier for 5K.
Next was Robert Whitaker with an average of 84.23 percent for his top 10, highlighted by an 86.05 percent at the Sleighbell 5K (18:24 at age 59), 85.73 percent at the First Colony 5K (18:20) and an 85.26 percent at Governor’s Land (18:26).
Rose Crist, 62, was the breakthrough performer of 2017, placing third with a top-10 average of 83.24 percent, with bests of 84.99 percent at the Freedom Run 8K (a CRR women’s 60-64 all-time record of 36:58), 84.70 percent at the Governor’s Land 5K (a CRR all-time 5K record of 22:26) and an 84.63 percent at the Run the Bacon 5K (22:27).
In any other year Greg Dawson would have won, but in 2017 his average of 80.66 percent was only good for fourth place, highlighted by his lifetime best of 84.33 percent at Governor’s Land (17:46 at age 52).
Rounding out the top 10 were Roger Hopper, age 26 (5th, 78.88 percent, with over 80 percent at Governor’s Land, 80.73 percent, 16:05, Queens Lake, 80.56 percent, 16:07, and Run the DOG, 80.31 percent, 16:10); Will Murray (6th, 77.20 percent, with a best of 78.99 percent at First Colony 5K, 20:23 at age 61); Thorin Jean (7th, 75.52 percent, with a best of 78.47 percent at Run the DOG, 19:26 at age 16); Isaac Lamprecht (8th, 74.91 percent, with a best of 77.73 percent at First Colony 5K, 19:59 at age 11), Paul Pelletier (9th, 74.73 percent, with a best of 78.18 percent at the First Colony 5K, 19:01, at age 51) and Rick Platt (10th, 71.97 percent, with a best of 75.45 percent at the Run the Bacon 5K, 22:16 at age 66).
CRR members again dominated the major award categories for the 2017 Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix, a series of 14 of the most competitive races throughout the Hampton Roads area, four from the CRR (Victory at Yorktown 10K, Run the DOG 5K, Run for the Hills 10K and Governor’s Land 5K), four from the Peninsula Track Club (Fort Eustis 10K, Coast Guard 5K, Mulberry Island Half Marathon and Yorktown Battlefield 10 Miler), and six from the Southside’s Tidewater Striders (including the Elizabeth River Run 10K), with nine of the 12 major category awards going to the CRR.
Roger Hopper defended his men’s overall title, with Robert Whitaker and Greg Dawson placing second and third. For the women overall, it was Robin Olsen, Thorin Jean and Karla Havens, all also from the CRR. Jason Miller won the Masters (ages 40-and-over) first-place award, while Susan Hagel was second, and Christine Schaffner third, for the women Masters.
Within the age groups the Jean family had five award winners. Besides Thorin (2nd overall), they were Cannon Jean (2nd, women 19-and-under), Sorenna Jean (3rd, women 19-and-under), Criztina Jean (1st, women 45-49) and Robert Jean (2nd, men 50-54). Similarly, the Lamprecht family received four Super Grand Prix awards, all for first place—Isaac Lamprecht (men 19-and-under), Jocelyn Lamprecht (women 19-and-under), Brian Lamprecht (men 45-49) and Ruth Lamprecht (women 40-44). Others from the CRR winning Super Grand Prix honors were Ryan Doupe (1st, men 30-34), Paul Pelletier (1st, men 50-54), George Nelsen (1st, men 60-64), Rick Platt (2nd, men 65-69), Larry Arata (1st, men 70-and-over), Jessica Anderson (1st, women 35-39), Helen Worthington (1st, women 60-64), Patricia Travis (1st, women 65-69, with the highest point total of all the runners), Barbara Biasi (2nd, women 65-69), and Judy Stewart (1st, women 70-and-over).