There were three venues for area running competitors last weekend, and they could not have been more different. Three of the most accomplished Colonial Road Runners team members, Steve Kast, Steve Chantry and Pete Gibson, competed last weekend at the USATF National Masters Track Championships in Kentucky.
Another of Ellen Alexander’s creative and fun Happy Cat Events race series was held on the Greensprings Trail from Jamestown High School, the Alphabet Soup Race, a 7-hour run accompanied by a 7K race. And another of the 18-race Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix series was held in Virginia Beach, and not surprisingly the top CRR runner was Roger Hopper.
Former Christopher Newport University track star Steve Kast, 57, of Yorktown has had a busy track year at the 800-meter and 1,500-meter distances, emailing, “I ran indoor USATF nationals in New York with a significant hamstring issue. I just missed the podium with a fourth-place limp and drag 800. I followed up with a second-place finish in the men’s 55-59 800 and 1500 at the US Senior Games in Florida in May. I went into the Senior Games recovering from significant issues with shin splints.
After Senior Games, I continued rehabbing from shin splints and limped into the World Masters Championships in Finland in late June to early July. It was an amazing experience and also very humbling at the same time. I finished 17th in the 800 and 19th in the 1500. I ran a PR in the 1500 of 4:44.15. Perhaps the best experience was the very strategic race in my 800 semifinal where the top 2 runners make it to finals. Five of us ran together until 200 meters to go and then the lead changed five times on the way to the finish. Unfortunately I was fourth, but in my heat was the eventual world champion.”
“After the World Championships, I began to recover from my injuries, and training was very consistent. I was getting giddy about being able to run injury free. Just my luck I tested positive for COVID on July 21. I had a severe case with high fever, headache, and nausea for days.”
But he recovered and tested negative before heading to the USATF National Masters Track Championships in Kentucky. “I finished 6th and ran a PR of 2:15.49 which age grades at 90.95% [a world-class level], compared with last year’s 90.11% age grade. Although I didn’t place where I wanted [the winning time was 2:13.24], this was definitely my best and gutsiest race of the year because of the congestion and fatigue I was feeling from COVID. I ran the 1500, finished 7th and was just a few tenths off my PR set in Finland.
For Steve Chantry, 67, of Williamsburg who has won numerous national and world titles in various track events, 2022 has not been a good year. “My hamstring injury [incurred running a 5K road race over the Memorial Day weekend] kept me out of the World Championships. I’ve been injured or ill off and on through 2022. I was nowhere near prepared for Nationals but went so that I could have at least one track competition this year. I don’t plan to run in any races for several months, and until I can regain my full health and fitness.”
Despite all his woes, Chantry still placed third for men 65-69 in the 800 meters, running a time of 2:37.15, age grading 85.4%. Then he was part of a 4×800-meter men’s 65-69 relay team that same day which had a goal of a world record time, but settled for an American record. Chantry had a relay split of 2:36, with the team running 10:28 (average of 2:37), just nine seconds off the world record by a Spanish team, but smashing the American record which had been more than 11 minutes.
Pete Gibson, 66, of Murfreesboro, N.C. ran the 10,000 meters on Saturday morning, and was first for men 65-69 in a time of 40:33.39. The CRR as a team scored 16 points, notably the same as two hotbeds of distance running, the Oregon Track Club and the Boulder Road Runners.
Ellen Alexander emailed to describe her events, “Though the day prior had been a putrid mix of soupy sticky temps and nasty thunderstorms, race day actually was quite pleasant for the participants in the 7 hour and 7K Alphabet Soup races. There was a little breeze and the Greensprings Interpretive Trail was easy on them with its flat, run-able 2.2-mile trail, and beautiful views. The event is a “Leftovers” race, modeled after a Canadian version, and this means racers get shirts and awards that are left over from other Happy Cat races.
For example, a male top finisher might receive a second-place award for a Masters female duathlon race. Happy Cat races can often be miserable challenges (in the best possible way), but this time the conditions were quite tolerable. Competition was tight but the runners were all smiles as they completed each loop. Stickers adorned the leftover awards saying, “There might be tears, there will be sweat, but at the end you get what you get!” On her entry form, Alexander described the race, “This no-frills race is a fun, sweaty mess on a beautiful trail!”
Of the lucky 13 runners who chose the 7K option, Rafael Serrano, 22, of Virginia Beach (31:51) and Megan Schulze, 39, of Yorktown (33:13) were the male and female winners, with Kevin Hughes, 53, of Williamsburg (42:03) next across the finish line cone. Schulze, a William & Mary grad, then changed her race bib number and competed in the 7-hour run, doing 24.4 miles in that event, and combined with the 7K, a total of 28.9 miles for the day.
In the 7-hour endurance run, there were 31 finishers, of whom 13 completed the 50K ultramarathon distance (31.1 miles), and an additional four more who made the marathon distance (26.2 miles). The top three men were Chet Luther, 44, of Centreville (44.4 miles), David Colbert, 40, of Chesapeake (40 miles) and Caleb Correa, 38, of Virginia Beach (33.3 miles).
The top three women were Chelsea Salas, 34, of Camp Lejeune, N.C. (40 miles), Ruthie Kreuzer, 41, of Yorktown and Cynthia Robbs, 51, of Chesterfield (each 37.7 miles). Williamsburg runners who completed 31.1 miles were David Berger, 46; Jessica Anderson, 40; Todd Ellick, 39 and William Gurkin, 30; along with Joe Calkins, 51, of Lanexa. Brandon White, 40 and Nichol Meneley, 51, of Williamsburg made the marathon distance.
Roger Hopper, 31, of Chesapeake, who often has runaway victories in CRR Grand Prix races, had plenty of competition last Saturday at the Strider Scholarship 5K, a Tidewater Striders race which was part of the Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix series. First of 207 finishers in 15:20 was Wesley Bond, 19, of Virginia Beach, who this track season ran impressive times of 14:27 for 5,000 meters and 30:05 for 10,000 meters for George Mason (coached by former W&M coach Andy Gerard).
Hopper was runner-up in 15:25, just 11 seconds off his 5K PR. Jeffrey Dover, 25, of Norfolk (15:51) and David Gregory, 27, of Virginia Beach (15:58) were also below 16 minutes. Rexi Parcells, 29, of Abilene, Texas (18:17), Madeleine King, 23, of Virginia Beach (18:36) and Kasey Sutryk, 22, of Virginia Beach (19:20) were the top three women in the fast competition.
Rick Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.