Besides the usual local running "celebrities" such as 2015 Grand Prix winners Roger Hopper and Jessica Riggs, last Saturday's eighth annual Hare and Tortoise New Quarter Park 8K Run had a nationally known celebrity: Denis O'Hare, the Broadway actor, Tony Award winner and TV star.
Denis O'Hare, the son of the 8K race director John O'Hare, is now starring in "American Horror Story" on FX and was in attendance to both participate in the 8K, and to sign memorabilia.
Those collector's items included an autographed script from the American Horror Story: Freak Show "Show Stopper," two autographed Lady Gaga CDs, another signed script, DVDs of the complete first and third seasons of American Horror Story, and of the third and fifth seasons of True Blood, another TV series that starred O'Hare, T-shirts featuring his character Stanley from the fourth season of Freak Show, and of his character "Liz Taylor" from the fifth season.
All proceeds from the memorabilia session went to the fight against ovarian cancer. Some of the race participants and volunteers got in the spirit of the TV shows with makeup or costumes depicting the characters.
As always, the race was a benefit for the fight against ovarian cancer, and was in memory of Karene O'Hare, the late wife of John, who had ovarian cancer. In partnership with the Williamsburg Community Foundation, the race funds ovarian cancer screening programs for the under-insured and un-insured who reside in the Greater Williamsburg community, offered by both the Lackey Free Family Clinic and the Olde Towne Medical and Dental Center.
Prior to this year's event, more than $129,000 had been raised by the race.
In the 8K race, the top-three overall men were Roger Hopper, 25, of Williamsburg (29:05), Steven Brewer, 30, of Newport News (31:43) and Greg Dawson, 51, of Williamsburg (32:09). Hopper was the only age-group record breaker this year, his winning time 13 seconds faster than the 29:18 run by Brewer in 2013, the previous mark for men 25-29.
At one time Dawson had a huge lead in the 2016 Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix for the men's overall title, but with Hopper earning a first place overall last Saturday at New Quarter Park, and a second place overall Aug. 27 at the York River State Park 5K, he is chipping away at Dawson's lead, and is the likely winner this year. Only the top 10 Grand Prix scores count, of the 21 current CRR Grand Prix races, with overall scoring going 10 deep, from 10 points for first place, down to one point for 10th.
After 13 Grand Prix races this year, the men's point totals are 67 for Dawson, 53 for Hopper and 32 for Paul Pelletier, 51, of Williamsburg, who placed fourth overall Saturday in 33:38.
But Dawson has already run 10 CRR races this year, as opposed to Hopper's six. Dawson will only increase his point totals when he improves on a previous overall place, while Hopper will get a full allotment of points, usually either 10 for a first place or nine for a second place. Three more races (out of the eight remaining) should put him in the lead, to defend his 2015 Grand Prix title. Last year, the top three were Hopper, Dawson and Pelletier, in that order, and it looks like the same will happen this year.
For the women, the top-three overall for the 8K were Jessica Riggs, 39, of Williamsburg (33:59), Debbie McLaughlin, 50, of Williamsburg (36:12) and Emily Honeycutt, 25, of Newport News (36:46).
Those three are in the same order for the 2016 CRR Grand Prix for the women, with Riggs at 75 points, McLaughlin at 73, and Honeycutt at 70, although Honeycutt has run more races than the others, and like Dawson, will contend with the 10-race maximum.
That maximum will increase to 12 for 2017, following a recent vote of the CRR membership. Just like the men, it looks like the 2016 Grand Prix overall top three for the women will repeat the same order as 2015—Riggs, McLaughlin and Honeycutt.
Riggs benefited from a "home course" advantage at Hare and Tortoise, as the course literally ran past her house in Queens Lake.
Seven runners age-graded over the 70-percent regional-class level, including four of the six top-three overall award winners, men and women. Dawson was best at 75.06 percent, followed by McLaughlin (74.77 percent), Hopper (72.89 percent), Harriet McCoy, 60, of Toano (42:45 time, 72.51 percent), Riggs (72.34 percent), Pelletier (71.75 percent) and Ben Dyer, 73, of Hayes (41:38, 71.54 percent).
There were 173 runners and walkers across the finish line in the 8K, and an additional 19 finishers in the one mile fun run/walk. Timing was by Colonial Sports Timing and their Jaguar computer chip timing system.
The course was the traditional one, starting and finishing at the main park pavilion, going up the park entrance road to a loop of East Queens Drive and Copse Way in the Queens Lake neighborhood, returning the same route, but with an out-and-back portion on the park's gravel-and-dirt fire trail to a loop around a scenic meadow adjacent to Queens Creek.