With four races remaining in the 21-race Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix, Greg Dawson has officially conceded defeat to his rival, Roger Hopper, for the men's overall title.
There will be no Election Day suspense in this battle, even though technically Dawson still has more Grand Prix points than Hopper, 97-93 in all races, after Hopper's win last Saturday in the seventh annual Run for the Hills 10K at Sanford B. Wanner Stadium in the Warhill Sports Complex.
Only the top-10 scores count this year in the CRR Grand Prix. That will be expanded to 12 maximum in 2017, after a vote of the CRR members in June chose the larger number.
Dawson explained it all in an email on Monday to Hopper, and copied to CRR president Rick Platt. "The results are in ... Roger has clinched. And unlike The Donald, I will NOT claim the FIX is in. He actually might have clinched a couple of races ago, but I just updated my 'Is it possible for me to win the Grand Prix?' table. For our top-10 races, Roger currently has 93 points. I have 80. The max possible points Roger could score (if he wins 2 of our 4 remaining races) is 100 points. The max possible points I could score (if I win all 4 remaining races) is 91 points (2 less than Roger has now). I humbly (ain't I always) concede."
To which Hopper graciously replied, "Couldn't have done it without you, Greg! While I'm largely intrinsically motivated, it helps keep me going knowing you'll be right there breathing down my neck if I start to slack off. Another great year, with hopefully the best to come over the next few races. Thanks as always to both of you for everything you do to help put these races on and give me (and fiancee Julie!) an outlet to test ourselves!"
Dawson had won the Grand Prix in 2012, sandwiched between wins by Todd Kessler, of Newport News, in 2011 and '13. Victor Flemming, of Carrollton, took the 2014 honors, while Hopper won his first Grand Prix title last year.
At one point this year, Dawson had a huge lead in the Grand Prix, as Hopper took most of the summer off from racing. But starting Aug. 27 with a second place at the York River State Park 5K, Hopper earned 59 Grand Prix points in just 1 1/2 months.
The Run for the Hills 10K was his fifth-straight CRR race win, following first places at the Hare & Tortoise 8K, Colonial Heritage 5K, Crapolfest 5K and World Class Freedom Run 8K.
At Run for the Hills, Hopper, 25, of Williamsburg, won in 35:02, followed by Adam Otstot, 34, of Williamsburg (37:52), Ryan Doupe, 30, of Newport News (39:24) and Dawson, 51, of Williamsburg (39:40). What made Otstot's performance remarkable is that the national-class triathlete (and physical education teacher at Rawls Byrd Elementary) was pushing in a stroller his 3-year-old daughter Cassidy the entire race, and on a very challenging course.
The 10K starts on the service road near the JCC stadium, does an out-and-back to Warhill High, returning on the bike path, then the service road and a second bike path, for a complete loop of the 3.6-mile Warhill Nature Trail, which has a gravel/crushed stone/dirt surface, and numerous hills. The race returns via the bike path and the service road for a final sprint down the middle of the stadium field.
Despite the handicap of pushing the stroller, Otstot broke the previous men's 30-34 age group record of 39:36 by over 90 seconds with his 37:52. Doupe was also under the old mark with his 39:24. Four other age group marks were broken. Both Larry Coley, 68, of Chesapeake (46:03) and Bill Hart, 67, of Virginia Beach (46:21), broke Ken Mitchell's men's 65-69 record of 46:51, from 2010. Karla Havens, 54, of Plainview, ran 47:55 to better the women's 50-54 record of 48:34 by Yorktown's Sheri Mann from 2011. Rose Crist, 61, of Lanexa (51:23), was 13 seconds faster than Carol Talley of Toano's women's 60-64 mark of 51:36 from 2014. And Judy Stewart, 77, of Williamsburg (1:16:59), broke Ann Manciagli of Williamsburg's women's 75-and-over record of 1:20:07 from 2011.
The top-three women overall were Jessica Riggs, 39, of Williamsburg (42:16), Tracy Masuda, 33, of Tullahoma, Tenn. (45:16) and Emily Honeycutt, 25, of Newport News (46:15). Like Hopper, Riggs has now clinched the women's CRR Grand Prix title for 2016, after also winning last year. The current Grand Prix point tallies, including all races, has Riggs with 105, followed by Honeycutt with 96 and Debbie McLaughlin with 82. But with the 10-race rule, McLaughlin should end up runner-up to Riggs, with Honeycutt third, the same order as 2015.
The Run for the Hills 10K was also part of the 12-race Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix series (with four races each from the CRR, the Peninsula Track Club and the Tidewater Striders), for which Hopper will most likely be the men's overall champion in its inaugural year.
Saturday's 10K was part of the Run for the Hills Fall Fest, organized by the Beyond Boobs! organization (fighting breast cancer, and educating and supporting young women with the disease) and timed by Colonial Sports. There was also a one-mile fun run, a 5K race and many family activities at the stadium.
In the less competitive 5K David Piggott, 28, of Williamsburg (a cousin of legendary Williamsburg runner John Piggott) won in 18:16, followed by Michael Hoy, 25, of Williamsburg (19:42) and Brennan Harris, 45, of Williamsburg (20:43). David Piggott also ran the 10K race, finishing fifth overall in 41:04. The top three women in the 5K were Anna Beumer, 37, of Yorktown (23:48), Megan McWhorter, 26, of Yorktown (24:21) and Rebecca Lofgren, 36, of Williamsburg (25:26).
There were 176 official finishers in the 10K and 313 in the 5K.