Former Lafayette runners handily win Blue Talon turkey Trot

Both the men’s and women’s winners at Thursday’s Blue Talon Bistro Turkey Trot 5K are young Lafayette High grads who went to Colorado and its altitude training to reach their running potential. Derek Holdsworth (class of 2014) easily won the men’s race with a time of 15:47 (5:05 mile pace), almost a minute ahead of Williamsburg’s Rylan Flint, a 2017 Jamestown High grad now at the University of Maryland (16:42), followed by Bryan Stephan of Washington, D.C., (17:07) and Alexander Bardwell of Doylestown, Pa. (17:19).

For the women, 2012 Lafayette grad Elizabeth Starbuck ran a time of 18:36, also almost a minute ahead of Jamestown High senior Thorin Jean (19:29, the same time she ran last year to win the women’s division). Maeve Stiles of Norfolk was third in 19:41.

For the Masters (ages 40-and-over), the beautiful Blue Talon cutting board awards went to Greg Dawson, 52 (18:22), Stephen Chantry, 62 (18:49) and Jason Miller, 40 (18:58), three of the Colonial Road Runners fastest older runners, all from Williamsburg. Chantry also coached both Holdsworth and Starbuck when they attended Lafayette.

For the female Masters, the top three were Mary Jo Bailey, 56, of Williamsburg (22:51), Rhonda Venable, 56, of Toano (24:20) and Rachel Liebman of Cherry Hill, N.J. (24:57).

The Blue Talon Bistro race, which began in 2007, had almost 3,000 entrants for the two events, the 5K run/walk starting at 8:30 a.m., and a one mile fun run going off at 9:45 a.m. The 5K course started and finished on Prince George Street. Chip timing was by J&A Racing of Virginia Beach, the organizers of the Shamrock Marathon events. There were a record 2,382 official finishers in the 5K, up from last year’s 2,000 finishers, and better than the previous record turnout of 2,348 in 2015. Afterward Williamsburg mayor Paul Freiling (who placed second for men 55-59 in 20:44) spoke to the crowd, and Adam Steely and David Everett handled the raffle and awards ceremony, as well as presenting a $20,000 check to Literacy for Life, the main race beneficiary.

Holdsworth won multiple Virginia state championships while at Lafayette, three times in the indoor 500 meters, once in the indoor 300 meters and once in the outdoor 800 meters. His team won the state 4x800-meter relay in 2012 indoors and 2014 outdoors. He also won a national high school title in the indoor 800 meters his senior year, the Brooks PR Invitational outdoor 800 meters in Seattle in 1:49.9, then ran 1:48.97 and was third in the country at the 2014 USA Junior Championships. His other track PRs at Lafayette were 35.02 (300 meters), 48.30 (400 meters) and 1:04.02 (500 meters). But he wrote, that “My favorite accomplishment in high school was winning the state cross country team title for Lafayette. I was the number 6 man that day. I ran 16:47 which wasn’t too far off my 5K PR of 16:36.”

After graduating, Holdsworth ran for Coach Drew Mearns and his Growing Runners Track Club in 2015 and later joined a training group in Washington, DC called the District Track Club (coached by former Olympian Matt Centrowitz) for two years. He was contacted this year about running for Trinidad State Junior College in Alamosa, Colorado and moved there in July. Last year he ran a 4:05 in the mile and hopes to break 4:00 this year. In cross country, he had an 8K best of 25:57. His Blue Talon time of 15:47 is his 5K PR, and he ran a 32:20 for 10K last year.

In contrast to Holdsworth, Starbuck’s best running came after she moved to Colorado. Her first year in cross country at Lafayette was in the 26s for the 5K, but she eventually improved that time to 20:44. She also swam for Lafayette and made it to the state meet.

She decided to attend the Colorado School of Mines to study engineering, and had no plans to join the track team. But after running a marathon and a few other fun runs, she decided to join the women’s team in 2014. She started slowly her first year, but after a summer of base mileage training in Williamsburg with the Enterprisers Saturday morning training group, she made the traveling team for the college, then the national championship squad. Her best time by then had improved to 17:40 for a 5K race in California. After her senior year she decided to get her masters in engineering management and earned another year of eligibility.

After finishing school, she moved to Omaha to work for Kiewit Corporation as an Environmental Manager, and found a team called the Nebraska Run Guru Elite. Her PRs now are 17:36 (5K) and 39:36 (10K). On Nov. 12 she placed third overall for the women in the Nebraska USATF Cross Country Championships. As a late bloomer, Starbuck advises other female runners “to be patient and not listen to the myth that women get slower as they get older (which I was told in high school pretty regularly). It is obviously not true, just look at the world champions. And also, there are always tons of variables that you can’t control going into a race, but our bodies are so much stronger than we could ever think, so conditions don't have to dictate a race outcome.”

Meanwhile, over at New Town, Mettle Events of Norfolk directed the second annual Big Turkey Burn 5K in Williamsburg. The top three overall for the men were Derrick Dixon, 37 (18:32), Craig Basel, 22 (19:01) and Max Werner, 28 (19:28). The top three women overall were Lindsay Tyler, 18 (21:51), Arewynn Black, 13 (22:46) and Holly Rodiger, 19 (23:28). There were 200 finishers in the 5K run, 47 finishers in the 5K walk and 31 finishers in the one-mile youth race (a total of 278), down a bit from the 366 finishers in the 5K, 27 in the walk, and 27 in the fun run last year (a total of 420). The race benefited the R.F. Wilkinson Family YMCA of Williamsburg.

Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.

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