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Williamsburg runners chart different paths to weekend victories

The Virginia Gazette

"So how did you spend your summer?" is the standard essay that kids write after they return to school after the Labor Day weekend.

That's also an appropriate question for Williamsburg-area runners.

Some enjoy the local road racing scene so much, they continue to lace up their racing shoes, no matter what the temperature. Others forgo the summer races to work on their base training for fall races like the marathon or half marathon, taking a sabbatical during the most hazy, hot and humid months from mid-June through August.

And a third group varies their routine through cross-training, trying triathlons, swimming, or other outdoor adventures like kayaking, canoeing or hiking.

This past weekend saw all three choices among the winners of the seventh annual Hare and Tortoise 8K Run on Saturday morning at New Quarter Park and the Patriot's Challenge Triathlon both days in Jamestown: Jessica Riggs (raced all summer), Roger Hopper (took the summer off from racing) and Adam Otstot (triathlons). Each are from Williamsburg.

Riggs and Hopper are overwhelming favorites to win the men's and women's titles for the 2015 Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix, and they continued their winning ways at Hare & Tortoise.

For Riggs, life has become much simpler this summer. In the end of June, she and her family (daughters Delaney, a sophomore, and Frankie, an eighth grader, are No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, on the Walsingham Academy girls' cross country team) moved from Surry to the beautiful Queens Lake neighborhood of Williamsburg. So there's no longer the need to take the time-consuming ferry every time she participates in a CRR or Peninsula Track Club race.

For the Hare & Tortoise, it was even easier as her home is at Sherwood Drive and Lakeshead Drive, close to the New Quarter Park main entrance, and just one mile from the main park pavilion used for the start, finish, refreshments and awards ceremony for the 8K (4.97-mile) race. Riggs literally ran past her house just before the one-mile mark, and after the Copse Way loop, went past it again, just after the two-mile mark.

Runners then re-entered the park, and did an out-and-back of the fire trail down toward the York River, before a return to the pavilion.

Riggs won the women's title easily for the 8K, also known as the Karene O'Hare Memorial Run for Ovarian Cancer. In partnership with the Williamsburg Community Foundation, race director John O'Hare raises funds for the fight against ovarian cancer. His efforts are assisted with race timing and race management assistance by Jim Elder and Colonial Sports Timing.

"The men's race was awesome to watch from a distance as I saw Greg Dawson run so strong in his first race at age 50," Riggs said. "The race was well attended, and I was touched by the dedication of Mr. O'Hare to honoring his wife's memory by promoting awareness of ovarian cancer and helping women fight the disease."

Riggs, 38, went out fast, perhaps a bit too fast.

"My lack of exploring the trails at New Quarter Park haunted me in the last two kilometers of the race," she said. "I ran the first 5K in 19:40 and had a PR in sight. (8K PR is 32:49 at Yorktown Freedom Run). The grassy terrain, the humidity, and the unfamiliarity with the trail slowed me down, so I see room for improvement for me as a runner when it comes to mental toughness and being prepared."

Nevertheless, she finished in 33:29, over two minutes ahead of Debbie McLaughlin, 49, of Williamsburg (35:37). Third overall was Emily Honeycutt, 24 (36:33), now from Newport News, after switching her teaching from Jamestown High to Tabb High. Lisa Osterhoudt, 33, of Williamsburg (38:12), Jamie Montgomery, 30, of Lewisburg, Penn. (38:26) and Jessica Burcham, 33, of West Point (38:34) were also under 40 minutes.

Men's winner Roger Hopper, 24, had not raced since early June, when he won the Run for the Bacon 5K at Eastern State Hospital, his sixth win in seven CRR Grand Prix races for 2015, while working on his base training throughout the summer. He returned to his winning ways at New Quarter Park, winning by almost two minutes, 29:28 to 31:18, over CRR vice president Greg Dawson, whose 50th birthday celebration was just three days before Hare & Tortoise.

Three other men finished before Riggs: Paul Pelletier, 50, of Williamsburg (31:53), Steve Chantry, 60, of Williamsburg (32:16) and Steve Menzies, 51, of Williamsburg (32:39).

After 13 CRR Grand Prix races (of 20 total), Hopper leads with 79 points, followed by Dawson (66), Rich Saunders (43) and Pelletier (40).

For the women, Honeycutt has 86 points, followed by Riggs (84), McLaughlin (65) and Burcham (36), although Riggs will win the Grand Prix because only the best 10 scores count.

Physical education teacher Adam Otstot, who had won the previous CRR Grand Prix event, the York River State Park 5K (16:08) on August 22, was victorious for the fifth straight time at the Patriot's Half Ironman Triathlon on Saturday. His finish times for the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run have been remarkably consistent, 4:16:19 (2011), 4:14:04 (2012), a course record 4:12:17 (2013), 4:15:57 (2014) and 4:13:14 (2015), but his margins of victory have dropped from 28 minutes the first year, to 30, 15, 16 and just six minutes this year.

"I believe this is solely due to the prize money offered, attracting more solid competitors to the race," he said. "But until they can further bridge that gap, I'll continue to just put together that winning formula and see if I can keep the streak going for a couple more years."

Prize money was started to be offered in 2013.

Otstot, a professional triathlete, has won 17 triathlons and $3,500 prize money lifetime, $2,000 of that in 2015 alone. Much of that prize money is from Patriots, which offers $500-300-200 to the top three. Next on his racing schedule might be the Richmond Half Marathon in November.

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