Roger Hopper has run all three of the Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix races held thus far in 2018, and he’s won all three. Those races include the standard shorter road race distances, an 8K (Toano Icy 8K on Feb. 3), a 5K (Jamestown High School Swamp Run 5K on March 3) and a 10K (Jamestown 4-H Discovery Run 10K last Saturday). The strongest competition for former William and Mary student Hopper, 27, of Norfolk, has been Patrick Wachter, a 20-year-old W&M student from Williamsburg. The closest margins of victory for Hopper were a 16-second win at the Swamp Run 5K (16:14 to 16:30) and a 37-second win at Toano (a course record 26:07 to 26:44), both over Wachter.
With his fast start, Hopper is well on his way to his fourth consecutive overall CRR Grand Prix championship.
Saturday at the Jamestown 4-H Educational Center, Hopper had a huge margin of victory, almost four minutes over runner-up Greg Dawson, 52, of Williamsburg (33:29 to 37:23). Jamestown High student Paul Glass, 16, of Williamsburg was third in 38:06. All three broke Jamestown 4-H age group records. Hopper’s 33:29 was a personal best, bettering his previous race record of 34:09 from last year, and was only 15 seconds slower than the all-time CRR men’s 25-29 record.
Dawson broke John Piggott’s 4-H record (a 37:36 from last year) by 13 seconds. And Glass not only broke a 4-H record with his 38:06 (the previous mark was his 41:35 from last year), he broke the all-time CRR record for the men’s 15-19 age group for the 10K distance. The previous mark was by former Lafayette High runner Brian McManus, then 18, a 41:18 at the 2014 Run for the Hills 10K.
The all-time CRR record for 10K is a 33:04 by the late Michael Mann, then 33, of Hampton, at the 2002 Williamsburg Jaycees Run for Life 10K. That record will undoubtedly fall on April 7 at the fourth annual Victory at Yorktown 10K, as the top three from February’s Colonial Half Marathon are already entered — Will Christian of Norfolk (who also won the Newport News One City Marathon the week after the Colonial Half in a record 2:22:05), Adam Otstot of Williamsburg and Hopper.
Christian can run in the 31’s for 10K, Otstot can run in the 32’s, and Hopper will be aiming to better the 33-minute barrier for a new PR. After running solo the entire 4-H 10K, the competition will push him to a better time at Yorktown.
Hopper also will be aiming for a 5K PR this Saturday at the 24th annual Queens Lake 5K at New Quarter Park (start time 9 a.m.) on a fast and mostly flat, and USATF-certified course. He won Queens Lake last year in 16:07.
“I definitely want to break 33 for 10K this spring, if not at Yorktown then definitely by Elizabeth River [May 26],” Hopper said. “My goal for 5K at Queens Lake is sub-15:50, and I hope to further improve on that time by DOG Street [April 21].”
Similar to Hopper, Jamestown High senior Thorin Jean has run all three CRR Grand Prix races for 2018, and she’s won all three, her closest competition her younger sister Sorenna Jean, age 15. Thorin won the Toano 8K by over two minutes, 33:01 to 35:09, over Sorenna, won the Swamp Run 5K by 29 seconds, 19:46 to 20:15, over Sorenna, and like Hopper had a huge lead at the 4-H 10K, an almost five-minute margin of victory.
The top three overall at 4-H were Thorin Jean, 17, of Williamsburg (41:17), Kimberly Decker, 36, of Williamsburg (46:05) and Sheila Scotti, 34, of Yorktown (46:17). Like her fellow student Paul Glass, Thorin not only broke the Jamestown 4-H record (previously a very slow 59:24) with her 41:17, she bettered the all-time CRR women’s 15-19 10K age group record, previously a 42:34 by former Lafayette High runner, Becky Dobosy, then 18, of Williamsburg at the 2010 Run for the Hills 10K. The main hurdle for Thorin winning the women’s division of the CRR Grand Prix (she was runner-up last year) is finding the opportunity to race enough CRR events while she finishes her final Jamestown High outdoor track season and heads off to college in the fall.
Thorin has already been accepted to her top choices of Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, to pursue a degree in engineering, but her first choice would be acceptance into one of the service academies, either West Point or the Naval Academy, and she won’t decide until the end of April. For the CRR she plans to run the next three Grand Prix races (Queens Lake, Yorktown, DOG Street), but after that it will depend on the championship portion of the track season first, then her college choice (the service academies start much earlier than regular colleges, so would preclude summer-time CRR races). In track, she’d like to improve on her current PRs of 2:27 (800 meters), 5:24 (1,600 meters) and 11:18 (3,200 meters), all indoors, with goals of 2:25 for the 800 and 11 minutes for the 3,200. In cross country, she had a 5K best of 18:38. On the roads, the PRs are 19:06 (5K), 32:11 (8K) and Saturday’s 41:17.
Three other Jamestown 4-H race age-group records were broken. Larry Coley, 69, of Chesapeake ran a 46:27 to erase the previous men’s 65-69 record of 50:06 by George Carrigan, 67, of Williamsburg in 2016, and was not far off his own all-time CRR men’s 65-69 record of 46:03 from the 2016 Run for the Hills 10K. Jason Miller, 40, of Williamsburg ran a 38:35 to smash the previous 4-H record of 41:15 in the men’s 40-44 category. And Laura Liechti, 56, of Williamsburg race walked the 10K in 1:15:50, bettering the previous mark of 1:17:07 from last year’s 4-H race by Jocelyn Lamprecht, 12, of New Kent.
There were 70 finishers in the 10K on a scenic course that started and finished at the 4-H Center, and included portions on the Capital Trail, the Powhatan Creek Trail and the Greensprings Trail. The weather was cold, with temperatures in the upper 30s, and with a headwind at times early, but a tailwind coming back.
Although Hopper had the fastest time by far, it was two age 50+ runners who had the highest age graded percentages, bettering the 80% national-class level. Robert Whitaker, 59, of Yorktown ran a 39:39 for an 81.97% age graded, slightly better than Dawson’s 37:23 for 81.72%. Hopper just missed the 80% standard with his 79.79% ranking. Also above the regional-class 70% level were Coley (77.00%), Paul Pelletier, 52, of Williamsburg (39:54, 76.57%), Thorin Jean (75.29%), Miller (71.84%), Glass (71.57%), Patricia Travis, 66, of Williamsburg (59:47, 70.76%), Greg Henderon, 45, of Williamsburg (40:49, 70.64%) and Tammi Clarke, 57, of Norfolk (53:19, 70.12%).
Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.