Two 26-year-old runners, both College of William and Mary grads, were the overall winners of the 2017 Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix, but the personal significance of their titles was dramatically different. For men’s winner Roger Hopper, formerly of Williamsburg, but currently living in Norfolk, Grand Prix titles have become routine, as this title was his third consecutive, and more are likely to come.
In contrast, Emily Honeycutt, also a former Williamsburg resident (when she was teaching math and coaching at Jamestown High), and now living in Newport News (as a Tabb High teacher and coach) has been plugging away for years at the CRR Grand Prix. This decade she has placed seventh (2011), fifth (2012), third (2013), fourth (2014), third (2015) and third (2016) overall in the Grand Prix, trailing local road stars like Jessica Riggs (2015 and ’16 champion), Jen Quarles (2014 champ), Mercedes Castillo-D’Amico (2013 champ), and Debbie McLaughlin (four-time runner-up), even though Honeycutt often had more total points. The CRR Grand Prix allowed only the top 10 scoring races to count through 2016 (increased to 12 maximum for 2017).
Last year’s CRR Grand Prix had 20 races, starting with the Toano Icy 8K (always the first Saturday in February, as it will be in 2018), and concluding with the Sentara Sleighbell 5K in December. Honeycutt ran 14 of those races, with three wins (Queens Lake 5K, Run for the Hills 10K and Warhill 8K), along with six runner-up places, and three third places. She had 117 total points, and 108 for her best 12. Her best times were 20:41 for 5K at Governor’s Land, 34:37 for 8K at the World Class Freedom Run, and 44:36 for 10K at Run for the Hills. She set three women’s 25-29 race age group records.
Hopper ran just 12 races, exactly the number of scoring races allowed, and earned 113 Grand Prix points, just shy of the 120 for a perfect score. He had eight race wins, two seconds, one third (at DOG Street 5K) and one fourth (at Christmas Town Dash 8K), losing only to local stars like Adam Otstot, Andrew Osborne and a couple W&M runners. Hopper had goals in 2017 of breaking 16:00 for 5K, 27:00 for 8K and 34:00 for 10K, and came oh-so-close to all three. For the 5K, he ran 16:07 at Queens Lake, 16:10 at DOG Street and 16:05 at Governor’s Land. At 8K it was a 27:01 at the Freedom Run, and at 10K he had two 34:09 times. He had four race age group records for men 25-29, and one course record (Jamestown 4-H 10K).
After getting married last June to Julie Myers, Hopper moved to Norfolk where Myers is doing her residency. He is the head girls track coach, indoor and outdoor, at Salem High in Virginia Beach, and distance coach for boys and girls, after helping with the cross country program last fall. He is also a substitute teacher for the Virginia Beach City Public Schools, mostly at Salem.
Runner-up for the men was CRR vice president Greg Dawson of Williamsburg, who has run more CRR Grand Prix races, and earned more Grand Prix points, this past decade than anyone else. After 40-49 age group awards in 2008 and ‘09, Dawson, now 52, has been Grand Prix runner-up in 2010, ’13, ’15, ’16 and ’17, was overall champion in 2012, third in 2011 and the Masters winner in 2014. He ran 17 races in 2017, had 110 total points, and 94 points for his top 12 scores. While Hopper was away, he had first places at Greensprings 8K, Run for the Hills 10K and Warhill 8K, along with three third places. His best race of the year was a 17:46 for 5K at Governor’s Land. At 8K he had a 29:44 and a 29:45, and at 10K his best was 38:17. He set four race age group records for men 50-54.
Third for the men was Ryan Doupe, 31, of Newport News, who also ran 17 races, and earned 89 points, and 84 for his best 12. Similar to Dawson, Doupe had three wins while Hopper was away, capturing titles at the Kingswood Klam 5K, the Run for the Bacon 5K and the WISC Mad Dash 5K. His best 5K times were 18:17 at Queens Lake and 18:16 at Sentara Sleighbell, to go with a 30:28 at the Toano Icy 8K and a 39:25 at the Victory at Yorktown 10K. He set two race age group records for men 30-34.
For the women, second in the overall Grand Prix was Jamestown High senior Thorin Jean, 17, of Williamsburg. Jean ran 11 races, earning 91 Grand Prix points. She had six women’s race wins, at the JHS Swamp Run 5K, Run for the Bacon, WISC Mad Dash, Greensprings 8K (also at Jamestown High), Freedom Run 8K and the Sentara Sleighbell, along with one second and one third. Best times for 5K were 19:26 at DOG Street and 19:31 at Sentara Sleighbell, to go with a 32:11 for 8K at Greensprings and a 43:07 for 10K at Yorktown. She broke six race age group records for women 15-19.
Third overall for the women was Rose Crist, 62, of Lanexa, who had a spectacular breakthrough year. She ran 17 races, and scored 66 total Grand Prix points in the overall category, with 62 for her top 12. In those 17 races, she broke 13 race age group records, and six all-time CRR records for women 60-64. Before 2017, Hall of Famer Joan Coven held the CRR all-time records for women 60-64 for 5K (22:28), 8K (37:55) and 10K (49:58). Crist broke the 5K mark by one second at the Run for the Bacon 5K (22:27), then improved to 22:26 at Governor’s Land. For the 8K she broke the record first at Greensprings (37:18), then again at the Freedom Run (36:58). And at 10K, Crist broke the record twice, with a 49:24 at the Jamestown 4-H race, then again with a 47:51 at the Run for the Hills. In addition, she was the RRCA Virginia state champion for women 60 and older at the Victory at Yorktown 10K and the DOG Street 5K. Her best race, though, was not a CRR race, as she broke the Virginia state record for women 60-64 by more than two minutes with a time of 1:16:01 at the Yorktown Battlefield 10 Miler in November.
This Saturday’s Toano Icy 8K, along with the concurrent Frosty 5K, will start at 10 a.m. at the Toano Middle School on Richmond Road. Registration will be accepted online through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night at runsignup.com. Pre-race packet pickup will be Friday afternoon at the school and Saturday morning at the race. For more information, contact race director Peggy Shiamone at 757-869-5567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.