Williamsburg's Hopper, Riggs top Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix standings

The Virginia Gazette

Two Williamsburg runners, Roger Hopper and Jessica Riggs, were the overall champions of the 2015 Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix, each with nine wins in the 20-race series and each scoring a near-perfect 99 points for their top-10 races.

They were recognized Saturday evening at the CRR Awards Banquet at the Windsor Forest Clubhouse in Williamsburg, part of a total 40 award winners in the Grand Prix, 10 award winners in an age-graded competition, and 20 volunteers of the year. Over a hundred people, a record, attended the banquet.

The 2015 CRR Grand Prix included 20 races, with only the top-10 point-scoring races counting in the standings. Points went 10 deep in the overall category, and five deep in the masters, age-group and race-walking categories.

The series began in early February with the Toano ICY 8K (which starts off the 2016 CRR Grand Prix circuit this Saturday, Feb. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Toano Middle School, along with the Frosty 5K (Check out the CRR website at colonialroadrunners.org for complete details), and ended in mid-December with the Sentara Sleighbell 5K.

New races in the Grand Prix series in 2015 were the Victory at Yorktown 10K in April (replacing the Yorktown Victory Run 8 Miler) and the World Class Freedom Run 8K in October (replacing the Ford's Colony 8K).

Hopper, 24, ran 12 Grand Prix races in 2015, scoring 117 total Grand Prix points, but 99 in his best 10. His best yearly times were a personal record 34:37 at the Jamestown 4-H Discovery Run 10K and a PR 16:25 at the Governor's Land 5K, along with a 27:57 at the Christmas Town Dash 8K.

Appropriately, his final win of the year was at the Sentara Sleighbell 5K, located at the Sentara Williamsburg Hospital, where he has been the head scribe in the emergency room for five years.

Eventually Hopper plans on attending education school and becoming a high school teacher and cross-country/track coach. He graduated from William and Mary in 2013 with majors in neuroscience and kinesiology. His only losses in 2015 were twice to Bruton High coach Mark Tompkins, a three-time CRR Grand Prix champion (2005, '09-10) and a recent inductee into the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame, and to W&M coach Chris Solinsky, a former American recorder holder in the track 10,000-meter run.

Other multiple men's Grand Prix champions were Lafayette High coach John Piggott (1995-96, '98-99), the late Michael Mann (2002-04) and Todd Kessler (2011 and '13).

Runner-up this past year was CRR vice president Greg Dawson, a captain in the Navy, who ran 18 of the 20 races, had 111 total Grand Prix points, and 81 in his top 10.

Dawson's yearly bests were 17:57 for 5Ks at Governor's Land and 17:54 at Sentara Sleighbell, 29:50 for the World Class Freedom Run 8K, and 37:57 at the Jamestown 4-H Discovery Run 10K. He won two races, the Powhatan Creek Trail 5K, for which he was also the race director, and the Freedom Run. Dawson turned 50 in September, and had the most Masters (ages 40-and-over) points (a perfect 50), the most 40-49 age group points (46), and the most 50-59 points (39), but there are no duplication of awards.

In 2014, he narrowly missed the top three overall, and was the Masters champ. His best 2014 times were 17:56 and 30:05, so he improved after turning 50.

Third overall for the men was Paul Pelletier, 50, of Williamsburg, a civilian employee for the Defense Logistics Agency in Richmond, after 20 years service in the Air Force, and who will be the race director for the 2016 Queens Lake 5K. Pelletier ran 15 Grand Prix races in 2015, with 67 total points, and 61 in his top ten. His yearly bests were 18:41 at the Queens Lake 5K, 31:26 at the Freedom 8K, where he placed second overall, and 39:35 at the Victory at Yorktown 10K.

For the women, it was a three-way battle for the overall Grand Prix awards, but the top-10 race rule again was critical. In total points, Emily Honeycutt of Newport News had the most points, 125 in 18 races, compared to 121 points for Riggs in 13 races, and 94 points for Williamsburg's Debbie McLaughlin in 12 races. But when only the top 10 scores were tallied, it was 99 points for champion Riggs, 86 points for runner-up McLaughlin, and 82 points for third-place Honeycutt.

Riggs, 38, had nine wins, two seconds, a fourth and a fifth. Her 5K best was a 19:56 at August's CDR/Vineyards of Williamsburg 5K, although she ran a PR 19:37 a week later at the Peninsula Track Club's Smart Smiles 5K in Newport News. Her CRR 8K best was 33:07 at the World Class Freedom Run, but she had a 32:49 at the similarly named Yorktown Freedom Run, a PTC race on July 4th. And her 10K best was 42:03 at the Jamestown 4-H Discovery Run. Two of her four daughters, Delaney and Frankie, are standouts for Walsingham Academy's cross country team, with PRs of 19:25 and 19:40.

McLaughlin, who turned 50 in October, had a win at Queens Lake, 6 seconds and 2/3. Her yearly bests were 33:37 at the Toano 8K, 20:16 at the Queens Lake 5K (along with a 20:17 at DOG Street), and 42:55 at the Jamestown 4-H Discovery Run 10K. She was also the Grand Prix runner-up in 2014, to seven-time winner Jennifer Quarles, another member of the Virginia Peninsula Hall of Fame.

Honeycutt, 24, who placed fourth overall in 2014, moved up to third this year. She had one win, at the Victory at Yorktown 10K (a 47:10, the exact time she ran a week earlier at Jamestown 4-H), along with two seconds and five thirds.

Her 5K best for 2015 was 21:18 at Colonial Heritage, and her 8K best a 35:22 at the Freedom Run. She graduated from W&M in 2013 with a degree in math, and in 2014 with a masters in education, and now teaches geometry at Tabb High, where she is an assistant coach in cross country. The previous year she taught math, and coached, at Jamestown High.

Platt is the president of Colonial Road Runners. He can be reached at rickplatt1@juno.com.

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