Fast times at Governor’s Land

Special to the Gazette

Last Saturday’s Governor’s Land 5k was a hotspot for local stars like Steve Chantry, Rob Whitaker, Rose Crist, Greg Dawson, Debbie McLaughlin, Roger Hopper and Alexa Halko.

Officially named the Governor’s Land Ghoulish 5K Run for the Girl Scouts, with race director Trish Armstrong, the race benefits the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Annual Giving Campaign. There were 165 finishers in the 5K, and an additional 86 finishers in the one-mile fun run (an unusually large number of participants for a fun run). The entry form states “Fastest 5K course on the Peninsula” and that’s not just hype, but a well-deserved reputation for the flat and fast, USATF-certified 5K course.

Seventeen all-time Colonial Road Runners five-year age group records have been set on the Governor's Land 5K course, far more than any other CRR race. Those records include men 14-and-under (Konrad Steck, 16:18), men 35-39 (Thad Jones, 15:18), men 40-44 (Rob Hinkle, 15:55), men 50-54 (Chantry, 16:39), men 55-59 (Chantry, 16:57), men 80-84 (Robert S. White, 25:48), men 85-89 (Ernest Schillinger, 37:36), men 90-and-over (White, 40:15), women 15-19 (Aurora Scott, 16:37), women 35-39 (Claudia Kasen, 17:51), women 50-54 (Leisa Villani, 19:19), women 60-64 (Crist, 22:26) women 65-69 (Joan Coven, 23:18), women 70-74 (Coven, 25:04), women 75-79 (Coven, 28:33), women 85-and-over (Pat Eden, 51:16), and women wheelchair (Halko, 15:15). Six of those records are also Virginia state age group records (Steck, Chantry, Villani, and three by Coven). Three Governor’s Land age group records (going back to 1993) were broken this year (by Chantry, Crist and Halko), two of which were all-time CRR records (Crist and Halko).

The race is flat, except for a minor incline up to the Park East clubhouse finish line. It includes a 1.25-mile straight shot down Two Rivers Road, and horseshoe loops of the Horne’s Lake and Whittaker Island neighborhoods of the scenic Governor’s Land on the return route. Besides being the 17th (of 20) CRR Grand Prix races of 2017, the race was also one of 14 races in the Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix series (including the best annual races of the CRR, Peninsula Track Club and Tidewater Striders).

Winning for the second consecutive year was defending champion Roger Hopper, 26, of Norfolk, whose time of 16:05 was just three seconds slower than his 2016 race. Second and third overall went to College of William and Mary students running for Team Blitz—Patrick Wachter, 20, of Glen Allen (16:33, eight seconds faster than his third-place time of 16:41 in 2015) and Trey Mastaler, 21, of Fairfax Station (17:07).

However, for the second year in a row, the first athlete across the finish line was Alexa Halko, 17, a Jamestown High senior and a 2016 Paralympian in Rio (three times on the podium in the 100, 400 and 800 meters). Halko, coached by Drew Mearns, improved from 15:57 last year to a CRR all-time wheelchair record 15:15 this year.

For the women, the top three were Tabb High’s Kasandra Aulenbach, 16, of Yorktown (19:56), Debbie McLaughlin, 52, of Williamsburg (20:39) and Emily Honeycutt, 26, of Newport News (20:41). For Honeycutt, a former Jamestown High teacher and coach, now at Tabb High, it was by far her fastest time of 2017 (previously running a 20:58 and a 20:59), and quite close to her lifetime best of 20:31, so her second fastest 5K ever.

Before June, Coven had the all-time CRR women’s 60-64 record at 22:28. Crist broke that time by one second at the Run for the Bacon 5K (22:27) at Eastern State Hospital, then improved her own record by one additional second, a 22:26 last Saturday. Chantry improved his Governor’s Land men’s 60-64 record of 18:29 (from 2015) to an 18:22 this year. He broke the all-time CRR men’s 60-64 5K record earlier this year at the First Colony 5K with an 18:08.

The first Governor’s Land residents were Dan O’Brien, 54 (20:02, his first CRR race of 2017), and Gina Antretter, 54 (38:36). The first Girl Scout was Cannon, Jean, 12, of Williamsburg (24:44). The race walk winners were Jocelyn Lamprecht, 12, of New Kent with a personal record 33:59 (bettering her previous mark the week before of 34:24 at Freedom Park), and John Strassberger, 73, of Williamsburg (37:02).

A remarkable six runners bettered the national-class age-graded level of 80 percent, and 24 runners were better than the regional class standard of 70 percent. Leading the way was Chantry at 88.38 percent (just under the 90 percent world-class level), followed by Robert Whitaker, 58, of Yorktown (18:26, 85.26 percent, not far off the 18:13 he ran at age 55 while residing in Huntsville, AL), Crist (84.70 percent), fourth overall finisher Greg Dawson, 52, of Williamsburg (17:46, 84.33 percent, his fastest 5K after age 50 by eight seconds), McLaughlin (81.76 percent) and Hopper (80.73 percent).

Those over the 75 percent level included Bob Becker, 66, of Midlothian (21:12, 79.25 percent), Karla Havens, 55, of Plainview (22:11, 78.74 percent), Wachter (78.45 percent), Paul Pelletier, 52, of Williamsburg (19:26, 77.01 percent), Aulenbach (76.51 percent), O’Brien (75.96 percent), Mastaler (75.85 percent), Isaac Lamprecht, 11, of New Kent (19:49, 75.00 percent, a PR by 10 seconds), and Patricia Travis, 66, of Williamsburg (26:40, 75.00 percent).

There were countless other yearly or lifetime bests for the 5K race distance, including a 19:57 by Alex Armstrong, 16, of Williamsburg, a Jamestown High cross country runner, and the son of race director Trish Armstrong (prior PR was 20:08 at the 2016 Governor’s Land), an 18:40 by ninth-overall Logan St. John, 23, of Williamsburg (equaling his PR from this year’s Queens Lake 5K), an 18:29 for eighth overall by CRR co-membership chairman Jason Miller, 40, of Williamsburg (his previous best 18:58 at the 2017 JHS Swamp Run 5K), and a 22:53 by Elizabeth Schleif, 36, of Toano (her previous PR a 23:19 at the 2017 Run for the Bacon).

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