Temps will rise for Colonial Half Marathon runners

Special to the Gazette

After ideal weather conditions in 2017 led to some of the fastest times in recent years, the entrants in this Sunday’s Colonial Half Marathon will have to slow their pace due to predictions of unusually warm weather for the last Sunday in February, the traditional race date. The race is organized by the William and Mary men’s and women’s track teams, along with the W&M Special Events Department, with race chip timing by Colonial Sports.

Sean Keveren, 26, of Charlottesville won last year in 1:08:38, the fastest men’s winning time since 2013, and the second consecutive win by an American runner after international runners had won the vast majority of years since 1998. The first local runner last year was former William and Mary runner Adam Otstot, fourth overall, timed in 1:11:05.

For the women last year, the easy winner was Madeline Duhon, 28, of Stanardsville (Charlottesville area) in 1:17:31, the fastest women’s time since 2009, and also the second consecutive win by an American runner. Runner-up last year, in 1:24:51, was the first local runner, Greta Sieve, 29, of Williamsburg, who has since moved away, as her fiancée, former W&M men’s assistant distance coach Mike Henderson, took another coaching position at Cornell University.

The weather forecast for Sunday has an unseasonably high temperature of 78 degrees, although thankfully under mostly cloudy skies, with a 50 percent chance of afternoon showers, also with 10-20 mph winds, not conducive to fast times. The 5K starts at 1 p.m., and the half marathon starts at 1:10 p.m., from Landrum Drive and Jamestown Road.

The 39th annual Colonial Half Marathon, presented by Sentara Healthcare, is noted for its challenging and hilly course. It is an out-and-back course, USATF certified, on the Carter’s Grove Country Road and a loop through Kingsmill and the Busch Corporate Center, before returning to the College of William and Mary campus and a finish inside Kaplan Arena. There will be $2,000 in prize money, with $500-300-200 going to the top three men and women overall. Besides the featured half marathon and 5K, there is the second annual Sentara OrthoJoint Center 2K walk (12:40 p.m., free for joint replacement patients and coaches), along with a one-mile fun run/walk at 1:50 p.m.

All races allow late entry race morning, with late registration and packet pickup beginning at 9:30 a.m. (closing at 12:30 p.m.) inside Kaplan Arena. Race day, the half marathon will be $75, the 5K $45, and the fun run $15. There will also be a Sports, Wellness and Hospitality Expo from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., free and open to the public. Parking is at the W&M Hall parking lot and on campus. The Fife and Drum Corps will lead the runners from Kaplan Arena to the race start at 12:30 p.m.

There will be traffic restrictions during the race time (between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.), especially on Jamestown Road at Griffin Avenue, and on Newport Avenue at South Henry Street and South Boundary Street, as well as throughout the W&M campus. Jamestown Road will be closed between Landrum Drive and Ukrop Way from 12:55 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., and again from about 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. — and traffic will be redirected. Ukrop Way on campus will be one direction only from Jamestown Road to Compton Drive — and also be blocked around William and Mary Hall between Brooks and Compton. The race website is colonialhalfmarathon.com.

Many of Williamsburg area’s most talented distance runners will be competing on Sunday, including defending local champ Adam Otstot and three-time Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix champion Roger Hopper. For the Masters (ages 40-and-over), the best include Jamestown High coach Mark Tompkins and Lafayette High assistant coach John Piggott. One of the fastest out-of-town runners is Charlie Brenneman, 39, of Sacramento, who ran a 1:11:14 half marathon in 2016, and will be visiting his sister and brother-in-law in Williamsburg this weekend.

One of the women’s favorites is Ann Mazur, 32, of Charlottesville, an English professor at U.Va., who placed third overall last year in 1:26:13 and was second in 2016 in 1:26:34, but is capable of running in the low 1:20’s.

The all-time record for the Colonial Half is 1:04:39 by Steve Taylor of Fincastle in 1991, on the old Colonial Parkway course. For the current Kingsmill/Carter’s Grove course, the record is 1:05:22 by Azat Rakipov of Belarus in 2005. For the women, the course records are 1:16:08 by Inge Schuurmans of Boulder, Col. in 1994 (old course) and 1:15:02 by Anna Pichrtova of Waynesboro and the Czech Republic in 2002 (current course).

The Masters 40-and-over records are 1:10:42 by Tim Dunlap of Lancaster, Pa. in 1977 (old course), and John Piggott’s 1:15:02 (current course). For the women Masters, the records are 1:19:16 (old course) by Rose Malloy of Annapolis in 1991, and 1:23:40 by Lois Medal, of Toronto in 2000 (current course).

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette