Course record, five other marks fall at Powhatan Creek 5K – Daily Press

Course record, five other marks fall at Powhatan Creek 5K  Daily Press

The Colonial Road Runners have been using the scenic Powhatan Creek Trail for 5K races for the past decade, and for various causes. The PCT starts behind Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School on Ironbound Road, and ends 2.05 miles later at the intersection with the Virginia Capital Trail, which goes from Jamestown to Richmond.

It is an eight-foot wide multi-use trail, which includes a 696-foot long timber bridge over the Powhatan Creek, connects to the Greensprings Interpretive Trail, passes the historic Church on the Main and finally crosses the corn or soybean fields of the Mainland Farm, the oldest continuously cultivated farm in America, on 214 acres, and going back to 1609.

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Combined with the history and the scenery, the PCT is great for mid-July races, the hottest month of the year, since it is almost entirely shaded. But it’s not a particular fast course, since there are a few hills and lots of twists and turns. The CRR race started in 2012 as the Sweatin’ for Scholarships 5K, under the race directorship of Ed Irish and the Williamsburg Community Foundation, and it had its largest finisher totals the first two years, with 157 and 112 finishers in 2012 and ‘13.

The race director duties then switched to then CRR vice presidents Greg Dawson, then Terry McManus, benefiting the CRR’s Team Travel Fund. There were 97 finishers in 2014, 74 in 2015, no race in 2016, and 79 finishers in both 2017 and ‘18, all these races held in mid-July, initially Friday evening, then either Saturday evening or Saturday morning.

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The 2019 race switched to November with 58 finishers, and the 2020 race to September, under perfect weather conditions, with 100 finishers. After an absence in 2021, the CRR returned to the Powhatan Creek Trail and the traditional mid-July race date, but with new race directors, and a very interesting cause, the Lee’s World Quest, with runners completing seven half marathons (13.1 miles) on seven continents in seven days.

The Lee family, from Quinton, father Jarret, mother Maryanne, and sons Braxton (who turned 13 at last Saturday’s race and is going into the eighth grade this fall), Bryton (fifth grade) and Boston (second grade) have been fixtures on the Hampton Roads road racing scene since Braxton was five years old. They are active members, both running and volunteering, with the CRR, the Peninsula Track Club and the Tidewater Striders.

They have won countless awards, individually and also Grand Prix awards (in particular, Braxton was first male in the PTC Grand Prix in 2020, and third male in 2021, while brother Bryton was ninth male in 2021).

The cause this year is a planned epic adventure for mother Maryanne and oldest son Braxton, and their attempt to set two world records in the World Quest—the youngest participant to complete the half marathon series, and the first mother-son to complete the series. The two will be leaving in late October to fly to South Africa to meet the other participants, and prepare to fly to the first destination, Antarctica.

The other six continents will follow on a daily basis. Maryanne ran cross country, played soccer and was a pole vaulter for Gloucester High, where she grew up. She continued with rugby at Longwood University, but was not an avid runner when Braxton was born.

Braxton became interested in running at age five through the morning movers program at Petsworth Elementary School, and he asked his mother to start running races with him. He started his group “Braxton Running For Those Who Can’t.” He ran races, put on races, and fundraised for families in law enforcement who lost their loved ones, or that were injured in the line of duty, donations going directly to the Virginia State Police.

The mother and son have now been running races together for eight years. Braxton is on the New Kent cross country team, and plans on continuing through high school. His goal is to make the team for Virginia Tech and attend the school of veterinary medicine there.

Braxton has continued to improve as a road racer, with his best times now in the 22s for 5K, in the 38s for 8K and in the 46s for 10K. His 10-mile PR is 1:24 and his half marathon PR 1:59.

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About the three area running clubs, Maryanne emailed, “As we started our running career, we became members of PTC, Striders and Colonial Road Runners. These groups truly accepted us and now are considered family. They have supported Braxton by encouraging him, cheering for him, and supporting his goals. These three running clubs and particularly Thomas [Hicks, Tidewater Striders president], Steve [Peters, PTC president] and Rick [Platt, CRR president] jumped in and took their time to help us promote and support this [the Powhatan Creek Trail] race. We are so blessed and grateful to have the support from not only these amazing guys but the club members that turned out. Our race day was not only early but steaming hot, however over 100 runners came out to support our cause.”

There were 108 total entrants, with 87 finishers in the 5K and nine finishers in the one-mile fun run. Peters of the PTC emailed, “Braxton and the Lee family have been staples in the Hampton Roads running community for years and long-time members of the PTC. It is an honor to support them in their quest to set these world records. I look forward to them bringing their experience home to share with PTC and the other running clubs who have supported them and watched Braxton grow as a runner.”

Hicks of the Striders emailed, “Myself and the Striders love supporting such an amazing family, they are at almost every event all the clubs put on! The support all three clubs showed while supporting this race just shows how amazing the running community is in the 757!” Hicks was the one who suggested adding the Lee’s World Quest Powhatan Creek Trail 5K Run to the 2022 Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix race schedule (it had already been selected as a CRR Grand Prix race), and there was an impressive number of Tidewater Striders members who both supported the cause, but also gained valuable HRSGP scoring points.

The top three men overall were Roger Hopper, 31, of Chesapeake, who set a course record of 15:57, breaking his own previous mark of 16:05 from the 2020 event, followed by Jonathan Torres, 32, of Newport News (18:31) and Timothy Suhr, 51, of Williamburg (19:26).

For the women, Emily Honeycutt, 31, of Newport News was thrilled to dip below the 20-minute barrier with her winning time of 19:59, not too far off the women’s course record of 19:33 by Jennifer Quarles, 40, of Williamsburg in 2012. Svetlana Goncharova, 24, of Williamsburg was second in 22:15 and Hallie McMurdie, 17, of Norfolk third in 23:00.

Along with the course record, four age-group records were broken and a men’s race walk record also fell. Hopper also broke the men’s 30-34 mark, Pete Gibson, 66, of Murfreesboro, N.C. broke the men’s 65-69 record with his time of 20:03 and Alexey Popov, 39, of Newport News broke the men’s race walk record with a time of 30:14. For the women, two records were broken, Honeycutt for women 30-34 (19:59) and Patricia Travis, 71, of Williamsburg for women 70-74 (32:53).

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On an age-graded basis, with scoring this race by Travis, two runners bettered the national-class level of 80%, Gibson (83.46%) and Hopper (80.67%).

Above the regional class level of 70% were Rob Whitaker, 63, of Yorktown (21:08, 77.13%), Isabella Strumke, 8, of Toano (23:50, 76.71%, and missing the 14-and-under record by two seconds), Jon Leiding, 59, of Virginia Beach (20:41, 76.07%), Suhr (75.81%), Marjorie Friedrichs, 55, of Williamsburg (23:27, 74.34%), Honeycutt (73.73%), Randy Shelton, 47, of Henrico (19:34, 72.91%), Wayne Phelps, 63, of Chesapeake (22:31, 72.39%), Joe Calkins, 51, of Lanexa (20:22, 72.34%), David Anderson, 52, of Williamsburg (20:50, 71.28%) and Andrea Buoso, 48, of Norfolk (20:29, 70.22%).

Hopper is in lifetime 5K PR shape (15:14), but could only manage his course record of 15:57. He emailed, “This was definitely the most challenging race I’ve run in a while due to the warm temps and humidity. While the course certainly isn’t fast, with some undulations and tight turns, it was the weather that really limited performance this year.”

Hopper made the turnaround point this year 20 seconds faster than in 2020 (when the temps were in the mid-50s for the September race), but slowed the second half, and was just eight seconds faster this year by the finish. “Considering the weather, I am happy to have broken 16 and made that modest improvement, but I had hoped to do better, maybe 15:30s or 15:40s. Sub-16 was my ‘safety goal.’ ”

Honeycutt emailed, “I enjoyed that most of the course was shaded. Breaking 20 minutes was definitely the goal, and I was happy to see Pete Gibson there [they were still together a quarter mile to go, but Honeycutt prevailed by four seconds]. We decided to work together again [as they did for the June 11 FURever 8K at Greensprings], and it worked out great.”

Third-place Suhr emailed, “I loved this course with all the challenges and the hills. My favorite course so far.” Whitaker emailed, “Racers don’t typically enjoy the great scenery in the race, but it is a beautiful course. Definitely slower due to the heat/humidity.” Friedrichs emailed, “I loved the scenic trail, and the shade was much appreciated. I had never been on this trail before, so it was great to find a new place to run here in Williamsburg.”

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Rick Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.