The Democracy Dash 10K at Jamestown Island, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 18, will be an historical run at the most historical of locations: the 1607 site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Area runners have been waiting a long time — more than 32 years — for a return of any running event to the scenic tour roads around Jamestown Island.
In June 1986, the Peninsula Track Club held a Wednesday evening 5K race to benefit the nearby Jamestown 4-H Educational Center, and it was a very popular first-time event, with more than 300 runners for a course on the tour road loop, and which started and finished at the National Park Service’s Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center on Jamestown Island.
Runners eagerly awaited a return the next year, but it was not to be. Parking was an issue, and a new park superintendent turned down a permit request in 1987, concerned about any impact to the regular tourist visitation.
For more than three decades area running event organizers have pursued a return to the Island, without success, until this year.
The key has been a cooperative effort among multiple entities: the National Park Service, the Jamestown Rediscovery archeological team with Preservation Virginia, Billsburg Brewery, the Colonial Road Runners and the James City County Marina and Jamestown Beach Event Park.
Instead of parking on Jamestown Island, that will be at the Jamestown Beach Event Park, across Jamestown Road from the Billsburg Brewery/James City County Marina. The distance of the event has been changed from a 5K to the classic 10K distance, the start will be on the service road adjacent to the beginning of the Virginia Capital Trail. Runners will quickly get onto the Colonial Parkway, crossing over the causeway to Jamestown Island for the short loop of the Jamestown Island tour roads, returning to a finish in front of Billsburg.
The course is fast and totally flat, and outside of the causeway is a wooded, shaded, scenic route with wetlands crossings on wooden bridges, unsurpassed in historical beauty.
The event will be part of the 23-race Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix series for 2018. While all of the CRR events from May through August have previously been at the 5K distance, there is precedent for longer races in the summer. The Peachtree 10K, held annually on July 4 in Atlanta, attracts more than 50,000 runners. The Rock and Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon is always the Sunday before Labor Day on a course with limited shade. Each August, the Tidewater Striders have a 10 miler at Dismal Swamp, part of the Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix series. And to have all the 10K participants off Jamestown Island by 9 a.m., before the regular tourist traffic starts, the Jamestown Island 10K will start at 7:15 a.m., when temperatures are cooler.
A key for the National Park Service, both local and federal, in approving the permit application is that the event will be part of the Historic Triangle Triple Crown, combining the already established Victory at Yorktown 10K Run with the Run the DOG Street Challenge. The Yorktown race, which started in 2015, is held the first Saturday in April and utilizes the Yorktown Battlefield tour roads. The DOG Street Challenge, which started in 2010, is held the third Saturday in April, goes through Colonial Williamsburg and finishes on the historic Duke of Gloucester Street. The Colonial Parkway connects all three locations.
The race name and race date come from history: Jamestown was the birthplace of American democracy and representative government when General Assembly convened in the summer of 1619. The first enslaved Africans also were brought to America in August 1619. Jamestown will commemorate the 400th anniversary of both next year.
Entries will be limited for the race. Register online registration at runsignup.com; entry forms will be available at all CRR and PTC races between now and Aug. 18, as well as at Billsburg Brewery, many area fitness locations and at Colonial Sports. For further info, contact either Rick Platt, president and race coordinator for the Colonial Road Runners at 757-345-1431 or firstname.lastname@example.org), or Kelly Beckley, Director of Visitor Services of Jamestown Rediscovery 757-856-1259 or email@example.com).
The major race organizers are Michael Lavin, Director of Collections for Jamestown Rediscovery and Dave Baum, owner of the Billsburg Brewery. The race day director will be Kurt Weidman.
Proceeds from the race will benefit the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation. Results are by the Colonial Road Runners, and the course will be USATF certified. Post-race activities include music, craft beer and refreshments, food trucks, an awards ceremony and door prizes at Billsburg Brewery.
Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.