Competition always tight in 'fastest 5K on Peninsula'

The Virginia Gazette

The Governor's Land 5K Run has had a few different organizers and beneficiaries through the years. It started out as a benefit for the Heritage Humane Society and was held at the beautiful Governor's Land neighborhood from 1993-96.

The Heritage Humane Society benefit race eventually moved to the Stonehouse development, then to Ford's Colony and there was a gap of five years without a race at Governor's Land (1997-2001).

The Governor's Land Run returned in 2002 as the Run for the Brain, benefiting first Williamsburg Project Lifesaver (Alzheimer's assistance), then Dream Catchers (therapeutic horse-riding).

In 2012 and 2013, it was an American Cancer Society benefit through their Relay for Life program. The Girl Scouts, led by race director Trish Armstrong, took over in 2014 and continued this year, benefiting the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast Family Partnership Campaign.

The race weekend was switched from the traditional Saturday before Thanksgiving to the last Saturday in October, and this year's race coincided with Halloween itself. The official race name is now The Governor's Land Ghoulish Run for the Girl Scouts, and besides the regular running awards, prizes were given for the best costumes, leading to a festive atmosphere.

But the one constant for the Governor's Land races is the outstanding competition. Hands down, the Governor's Land Run has had the fastest times of any of the more than 30 different Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix races held through the years. The race entry form accurately calls the race "The fastest 5K course on the Peninsula."

It is USA Track and Field-certified as an exact 5K distance, eligible for state and national records and rankings. At times it has been the Road Runners Club of America Virginia state 5K championship.

Colonial Road Runners compiles records for every race in all age groups, from 14-and-under to 90-and-over. Of the 32 age group records currently held (17 men's and 15 women's), an incredible 14 (eight men's, six women's), over 43 percent, of the all-time CRR age-group records come from the Governor's Land race alone.

Two more all-time age group records were set last Saturday at the 14th annual Governor's Land 5K. Steve Chantry, 60, of Williamsburg ran 18:29 to better his previous men's 60-64 record of 18:35, set in April at the Run the DOG Street Challenge 5K. Chantry also holds the all-time CRR records for men 50-54 (16:39 in 2005), and for men 55-59 (16:57 in 2010), also from Governor's Land.

Robert S. White, 92, of Hampton became the first runner ever in a CRR race over the age of 90, establishing the all-time men's 90-and-over record of 40:15. White also has the all-time CRR record for men 80-84, a 25:48 in 2003 at the Governor's Land 5K. The other runner with multiple age-group records at Governor's Land, both all-time CRR records, is Joan Coven of Williamsburg and West Point, who ran 23:18 at age 65 in 2006 (women's 65-69 record), and 25:04 at age 71 in 2012 (women's 70-74 record). Appropriately, Chantry, White and Coven are all members of the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame.

This year's race had a total of 247 finishers, 177 in the 5K and 70 in the 1-mile fun run. Starting on Two Rivers Road, the out-and-back race has horseshoe loops of the Horne's Lake and Whittaker Island portions of Governor's Land, before finishing at the Park East Clubhouse.

Five men broke 17 minutes, led by Mark Tompkins of Williamsburg, who turned 40 on Oct. 11, to move into the Masters category, and ran a time of 16:21, not too far off the all-time CRR men's 40-44 record of 15:55 set by William and Mary chemistry professor Rob Hinkle at Governor's Land in 2004.

Roger Hopper, 24, of Williamsburg this year has run 10 CRR Grand Prix races, winning eight of them. His only losses (two second places) have come to Bruton High cross country coach Tompkins, first at the Jamestown Swamp Run in March, and then Saturday at Governor's Land, both with a strong finishing kick by Tompkins.

Hopper was 4 seconds behind in 16:25, followed by W&M freshman Patrick Wachter, 18, of Glen Allen (16:41), Blaine O'Reilly, 26, of Williamsburg (16:47) and another W&M freshman, Cameron Wojcieszak, 18, of Williamsburg (16:48, a former Bruton runner).

For the women Sika Henry, 31, of Newport News won for the third consecutive year. Her winning time of 19:11 was over 1 1/2 minutes ahead of runner-up Debbie McLaughlin, 50, of Williamsburg (20:49, her first race after turning 50 in October). Emily Honeycutt, 24, of Newport News was third in 21:39.

The first Governor's Land residents were Dan O'Brien, 52 (19:59) and Ally Younica, 40 (26:09). The first Girl Scout was Thorin Jean, 15, of Williamsburg (21:53).

Although Chantry broke his third all-time CRR age record Saturday, he said, "My age grade for the recent Governor's Land race was 86.85 percent, which is a little low for me and tells me I still have plenty more room to improve."

On an age-graded basis, with 90 percent considered a world-class level, Chantry had an 88.66 percent for his 16:39 at age 50, and a 90.65 percent for his 16:57 at age 55.

His best road race age-graded performance was 91.99 percent when he ran a 16:34 for 5K at age 55. On the track, Chantry has age graded as high as 92-93 percent at 800 meters, 1500 meters or the mile.

This past summer he ran 4:44 for 1500 meters at the World Masters Track Championships in Lyon, France, good for 92.46 percent. So a sub-18-minute performance for the 5K is certainly possible for Chantry, perhaps at December's Sentara Sleighbell 5K.

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