Williamsburg area's oldest road race gets a fresh start

WILLIAMSBURG—The oldest continuously held Colonial Road Runners race is The Vineyards of Williamsburg 5K Run, which started in 1993, and until this year had been held annually as a Saturday evening race.

The 22nd annual version on Aug. 9 saw two major changes by the organizers and beneficiary, Child Development Resources. The first was a move to a morning time frame, with the one-mile fun run starting at 8 a.m. and the 5K main event starting at 8:30. This was due to a recent string of bad weather, where it seemed every year there were either thunderstorms on race evening (which led to two postponements) or the threat of thunderstorms. And with all the extra logistics of a post-race dinner and other family festivities, it became too challenging.

The other change this year was a renaming of the race to the CDR SuperHero 5K at the Vineyards of Williamsburg, with many participating in costumes and a post-race award for the Best SuperHero. Branscome Incorporated was the presenting sponsor. Marsha Hargette, the new Director of Development for CDR said, "The CDR SuperHero 5K... raised more than $57,000 for CDR. This year's race saw some major changes by moving the run to a morning start and re-branding it into a Superhero theme. Janine Sabo, race director, did a flawless job of leading this race for her third year in a row."

There are four other traditional CRR races going back about 20 years, but none has the longevity of the Vineyards race. The Queens Lake 5K started in 1995. The Mental Health 5K began in 1996, but has missed a couple years. The William and Mary Homecoming 5K started in 1994, moved off campus to the W&M cross country course, missed a year, and last year's event was the final one. The Governor's Land 5K, like the Vineyards race, started in 1993, but had a four-year break from 1998-2002.

The Vineyards Run course is the main draw. It is a scenic, flat, fast and a USATF-certified 5K. Every year it attracts many the best runners from the Peninsula and beyond, including high school and college stars, and local age-group standouts. The men's and women's course records and age division 20-24 records are held by 11-time All-American Matt Lane (14:37 in 2001) and by Cheryl Bauer (16:51 in 2004), both former William and Mary runners. Another ex-Tribe runner, Jason Schoener, holds the men's 25-29 record at 15:01 from 2010.

But for a race in its 22nd year, all of the age-group records are particularly tough, including familiar names like John Holt (men 14-and-under, 17:50), Bryce Ruiz (men 15-19, 15:28), John Piggott (30-34, 15:50), Michael Mann (35-39, 15:38), Rob Hinkle (40-44, 16:01), Steve Chantry (50-54, 16:50 and 55-59, 17:28), Rick Platt (60-64, 20:14), Tom Ray (65-69, 20:02 and 70-74, 22:23), Heidi Peterson (women 14-and-under, 19:38), Claudia Kasen (women 35-39, 18:28), Valerie Plyler (45-49, 19:28), Mercedes Castillo-D'Amico (50-54, 20:28) and Joan Coven (55-59, 23:26 and 60-64, 22:57). Nine of these runners are already members of Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame.

This year only one age group record was broken, and that was by racewalker Pat Eden, 83, of Williamsburg, whose time of 48:12 was more than four minutes faster than her previous women's 80-and-over record of 52:30 from 2011. There were 278 official finishers in the 5K and 62 finishers in the one mile.

Fastest for the men was Victor Flemming, 35, of Carrollton who ran 16:10, a near PR. Flemming had run a 16:12 in winning June's Mental Health 5K, and has a PR of 16:07 from the 2009 Governor's Land 5K. His goal is to crack the 16-minute barrier by the end of 2014, to go with his CRR men's overall Grand Prix title.

Close behind Flemming were Tabb High grad Ryan Kent, 28, of Yorktown (where he will coach the York High cross country team this fall) and Mammoth Lakes, CA (his regular residence) in 16:21, Keith Matiskella, 42, of Alexandria (16:22), former Jamestown High standout Chris Crowder, 19 (16:23), rising W&M sophomore Kurtis Steck, 19 (16:32) and rising Lafayette High sophomore Konrad Steck, 15 (17:03). The Stecks live in The Vineyards, and father Randy was the parking coordinator and neighborhood liaison.

For the women, the top three were Sika Henry, 30, of Newport News (19:27), Jennifer Quarles, 42, of Williamsburg (19:47) and Debbie McLaughlin, 48, of Williamsburg (20:24). Age graded, an impressive 22 runners broke the 70% standard, with six over 80%. Matiskella was best at 84.66%, followed by Konrad Steck (81.65%), Flemming (81.52%), Platt (80.49%), Crowder (80.42%) and McLaughlin (80.25%). Just under that 80% mark were Greg Dawson (79.82%), Kurtis Steck (79.69%) and Ryan Kent (78.90%).