Michael Mann and Tom Ray would have been very pleased with the 22nd annual Queens Lake 5K Run, a Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix event held last Saturday at New Quarter Park in Williamsburg.
Mann (2006 inaugural inductee class) and Ray (2007 inductee class) are the two members of the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame who are no longer with us. The Queens Lake Run, benefiting the CRR Scholarship Fund, was held in memory of the two.
Mann, who died in September, 2007 at age 38 after a 2-year battle with lung cancer, was a three-time winner of the CRR Grand Prix (2002-04). He ran a 2:28:28 at the 2004 Shamrock Marathon, and still holds four CRR race course records. A career Air Force man, he would have been proud that the race director was a good friend of his, Paul Pelletier, and from the Air Force. The men's race winner, Sean O'Hollearn, 23, of Hampton is an Air Force man, based at Langley Air Force Base, just like he was.
The women's race runner-up, Lauren Speers, 23, of Hampton is also at Langley.
Race director Pelletier wrote to me, the 2013-15 Queens Lake Run race director, "When you first mentioned you were looking for someone to take over as race director I was a little hesitant. After thinking about how much I've benefited from the local running community, I thought I could give a little back by taking on the role as race director.
"The other deciding factor was the race is run in memory of a friend of mine, Mike Mann. I first met Mike in 1992 while I was running on Langley Air Force Base. I was on a six-mile training run when this pack of four-five runners caught me from behind. As they pulled up along side me one of them said, 'You're running at a pretty good pace and we've been trying to catch you for at least two miles.' He went on to say we run every day from the gym at 11:30 why don't you join us."
Pelletier said it was like Mann inviting him to be part of the training group. "I started running with that group called the Langley Big Dogs after that day and continued to run with them until the Air Force moved me to South Dakota in 1995. Being retired USAF it was nice to see Sean O'Hollearn, a fellow airman, win this years race with a great time. I think Mike would have liked that, but I also know he would have said, 'I could have beat him.'"
O'Hollearn won the race in a quick 15:50, followed by Bruton High coach Mark Tompkins, 40, of Williamsburg in 16:40, and Keith Schumann, 45, of Williamsburg in 17:24. There were 125 finishers in the 5K on a USATF-certified 5K course (VA-08008-RT), an increase from the 114 finishers in 2015.
The top-three women were Debbie McLaughlin, 50, of Williamsburg (20:49), Speers (21:40) and Julie Myers, 26, of Norfolk (21:59). Speers is the fiancée of men's winner O'Hollearn. Myers is the fiancée of 2015 CRR men's Grand Prix champion Roger Hopper, who was there to cheer her on, and to volunteer for the CRR finish line crew.
O'Hollearn went to LaSalle High School in Portland, Ore., where he was coached by former William and Mary runner Brian Devine, and ran a 4:08 for the 1,500 meters, an 8:55 for the 3,000, and a 16:08 for the 5,000. At the University of Portland, he improved those times to 4:03, 8:34 and a fast 14:46 for 5,000 meters. He ran a 1:09:38 July 4 half marathon after college, but is just now getting into the road racing scene, with goals of a sub-1:09 half marathon and a sub-2:30 marathon this fall.
O'Hollearn wrote, "Thank you for putting on an awesome event this morning! My fiance and I are fairly new to the area and we were really happy to see such a great running community here. I graduated with a degree in nursing last summer and a commission as a second lieutenant from the Air Force.
"I was fortunate enough to get this awesome assignment at Langley AFB and arrived here at the beginning of February. Today was my first race in quite a while. My goals are to represent the Air Force team in the Air Force Half Marathon in September and in the Armed Forces Marathon in October. In the mean time, I would like to stay competitive and get back to my college form by running local races like today!"
Since O'Hollearn is assigned to Langley for three years, he will be a familiar face to the local road racing scene through 2018.
Ray, who died in June 2011 at age 78, still holds the all-time CRR record for men 65-69, a 20:02 at age 67 at the 2000 Vineyards 5K, and the Virginia state record for men 70-74 with a 1:13:55 at the 2003 Yorktown Battlefield 10 Miler. As one of the best age-graded runners in the Hampton Roads area, Ray would have been particularly impressed with the numerous national and regional-class times turned in at Queens Lake.
After compiling the age-graded report for Queens Lake Jim Gullo, CRR statistician, wrote "So, did you pass out the fast pills before the race? This was the fastest group I have ever age-graded (starting with February, 2015 races). An 87.00 percent for Pete Gibson and 79.69 percent for Suzanne Gibson. Who are these people? Anyway, if you look at just the runners, 118, we had close to 17 percent of those runners age grade over 70 percent! Six were over 80 percent!"
The most impressive age-graded runner was Pete Gibson, 59, of Murfreesboro, N.C., who was fourth overall in 18:12. Gullo had him age graded at 87.00 percent, well above the national-class level of 80 percent. Five other runners were over 80 percent: Robert Whitaker, 57, of Yorktown (18:54, 82.45 percent), Tompkins (16:40, 82.03 percent), O'Hollearn (15:50, 82.00 percent), Schumann (17:24, 81.70 percent) and Andrew Cutler, 58, of Yorktown (19:31, 80.53percent), a remarkable total for a relatively small race.
Six more were between 77 percent and 79 percent: Suzanne Gibson, 70, of Murfreesboro (26:30, 79.69 percent), McLaughlin (20:49, 79.34 percent), Larry Coley, 67, of Chesapeake (21:44, 79.21 percent), Greg Dawson, 50, of Williamsburg (18:39, 79.09 percent), Darren Cox, 50, of Toano (18:58, 77.77 percent) and Will Murray, 60, of Williamsburg (20:40, 77.26 percent). Seven more made the regional-class standard of 70 percent.
Three runners broke Queens Lake age-group records: Suzanne Gibson (Pete's wife) in the women's 70-74 age group, on her 70th birthday; Ann Manciagli, 80, of Williamsburg (women 80-and-over, 43:17), and Ernest Schillinger, 84, of Williamsburg (men 80-and-over, 37:17).