Even as the annual Coast Guard Day 5K Run remains consistent each year, some noticable things were different. And the race had one particularly notable absence.
The Peninsula Track Club Grand Prix event last Saturday had a large crowd, with 346 entrants and 317 finishers. The race was organized by the Coast Guard Training Center Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff. Typical summer weather greeted the runners and walkers, with very humid conditions under cloudy skies, a slight breeze, and a 74-degree temperature at the start.
The two major differences this year were the absences of Katherine Long, the long-time race director for the Coast Guard Day 5K, and Joe Harney, the long-time president of the PTC. Long was the sports director at the Yorktown base from 2001 through 2016, succeeding Holland Ricks, who himself coordinated sports and recreation for many years at the base.
Long retired last year, and was replaced by the new 5K race director and base sports director Billy Hogge, who received his bachelor's degree from James Madison University in kinesiology, with a main concentration in sports management and a minor in business. Hogge, a York County native, had worked at the Yorktown base for the previous eight years as a sports specialist.
On a sad note, though, was the absence of Harney, who died on July 20th, just five days after attending his final PTC race, the Trailzilla 5 Miler at Sandy Bottom Nature Park. Harney had been president of the PTC for 15 years, starting in 2003, an unprecedented term of office, as no other PTC president served for more than three years.
He was inducted into the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame in 2011. He was also an Road Runners Club of America President of the Year. With the PTC Harney always coordinated the pull tag crew for the PTC finish line team, and was famous for having "soft hands" in removing the pull tags for over 500 PTC races. Whenever there was an opening in the PTC race schedule, he also coordinated the pull tags for the Colonial Road Runners, and last worked a CRR race on May 6th at First Colony.
As a runner the highlight of his career was running in the 1996 Boston Marathon, the 100th anniversary of that storied event. It was his first and only marathon (he got in through the lottery), and it was four years after quadruple bypass surgery. His extended family was there to cheer him on at the finish line, timed in 7:01:32, and a Boston TV station featured his race. With his name on his race shirt, thousands of spectators chanted, "Go Joe, Go Joe" throughout the Boston tradition.
Harney's seven half marathons included the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon in 2001.
Born on July 10, 1938 in Jamaica Plain, Mass. (part of the Boston metro area), Harney recently celebrated his 79th birthday with his large family (four sons and two daughters, and their kids). He was a second baseman on a CYO New England baseball championship team, and was a huge Boston Red Sox fan, often wearing a Sox ball cap to races.
In 1963, he made the move to the Peninsula, first living in Newport News, then in Hampton, and finally back to Newport News. He was an active stockbroker from 1965 to 2000, and was a regular at the Sentara Hampton Fitness Center, up until suffering congestive heart failure starting in mid-May. At his viewing last Tuesday at the Weymouth Funeral Home, there was one of the largest turnouts ever for the man who was a friend to all, with 457 people signing the guest book. A Catholic funeral mass was held the next day at his church, St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. He will be missed by thousands.
The Coast Guard 5K this year was also the eighth of 15 races in the Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix (a series of PTC, CRR and Tidewater Striders races), and competition was strong. For the men, the winner was Jack Little, 23, of Yorktown (who had also won a July 4th 8K race in Yorktown) in 16:09, a 5:12 mile pace. Second was Andre Jordan, 17, of Chesapeake, a Western Branch High runner, timed in 16:24. Third was Roger Hopper, 26, of Norfolk, the two-time defending CRR Grand Prix champion, and also defending Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix champion, timed in 16:36.
For the women, Sara Belamarich, 17, of Chesapeake, another Western Branch student, won in 19:49, followed by Jamestown High's Thorin Jean, 16, of Williamsburg (20:33) and Emily Honeycutt, 26, of Newport News (20:59).
Back on June 10, Rose Crist, 62, of Lanexa broke the all-time CRR record for women 60-64, by just one second, running a time of 22:27 at the Run for the Bacon 5K at Eastern State Hospital, bettering Joan Coven's previous mark of 22:28, from 2002. Amazingly, at the Coast Guard 5K, her first race since the Bacon race, Crist again broke a Coven record, and again broke the previous women's 60-64 mark by exactly one second. Coven had run 22:58 in 2002, and Crist ran 22:57 last Saturday.
The other Coast Guard race age group record was set by Judy Stewart, 78, of Williamsburg, whose 36:55 bettered the previous women's 75-79 mark of 37:32, set by Williamsburg's Ann Manciagli in 2012.