By Rick Platt
In its first year, this weekend’s Run for Achievable Dream races will be the largest running event ever held in Williamsburg . As of Tuesday morning there were already 1,650 entrants in Saturday morning’s Fit to Run, Fit to Dream 8K Run/Walk (8 a.m. start), which has been given the 2011 USA Masters 8K Road Championship status by the USA Track & Field governing body. And Sunday morning’s Run for the Dream Half Marathon (7:30 a.m. start) already has 2,700 entrants. Additionally there are 150 entrants in the kids runs, and 40 Wounded Warriors. That total of over 4,500 pre-registered runners already dwarfs the Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon and 5K, which had over 2,000 entrants at its peak, and last December’s inaugural Christmas Town Dash 8K at Busch Gardens, which had just under 2,000 entrants.
Those still wanting to enter either race can register at the expo and packet pickup at the Williamsburg Woodlands Conference Center , 119 Visitor Center Drive , on Friday (noon to 7 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). For further info visit the race website at www.RunForAchievableDream.com, or call the Achievable Dream office at 757-599-9472.
The two pre-race favorites for the USATF Masters 8K Championships, Mark Andrews of Rochester , NY and Sonja Friend-Uhl of Nashville , TN , both recently turned 40, becoming eligible for Masters (ages 40+) competition, and both are familiar with the roads of Williamsburg . As a 27-year-old Andrews won the 1998 Colonial Half Marathon in 1:05:46, the first year that race switched from the Colonial Parkway/Route 199 course to its current Carter’s Grove Country Road/Kingsmill course. Andrews’s time was the course record for the hillier version until 2005, when Azat Rakipov of Belarus ran a 1:05:22, but remains the No. 2 time ever, despite repeated attempts by international elite. Andrews is the last American male to win the Colonial Half. He has already won the 2011 USATF Half Marathon Masters Championship in 1:10:33.
Friend-Uhl, originally a state champion from Delaware, graduated from William and Mary in 1994, where she developed into a national-class middle-distance runner and school record holder in the 800 meters (2:08), before moving to West Palm Beach, FL with husband Brad Uhl (a former W&M football player), and then to Nashville, with daughters Brianna, 10, and Alexa, 2. At the W&M Homecoming Run 5K, Friend-Uhl has won three times, and still holds the race age-group records for women 25-29 (18:15 in 1996), women 30-34 (16:42 in 2003, the race record) and women 35-39 (17:25 in 2009). Her lifetime bests include times like 2:06.4 (800 meters), 4:13.96 (1,500 meters), 4:37 (mile), 16:19 (5K), 33:57 (10K), 1:15:20 (half marathon) and 2:49:25 (marathon). She turned 40 in March, and is considered the best in the U.S. for Masters women in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meters.
Wiliamsburg’s world-class Masters runner, Steve Chantry, 56, who was instrumental in bringing the USATF 8K championship to Williamsburg, and will be vying for men’s 55-59 honors (M55), notes many national-class runners entered in the race. Besides Andrews and Friend-Uhl, there is Francis Burdette (M45 division), Olympian John Tuttle (M50), David Canon (M50), Kent Lemme, and Chad Newton for the men, along with Alisa Harvey of Manassas (F40), Laurel Park (F45), Lorraine Jasper (F45), Sabra Harvey and Kathryn Martin for the women. Some will age-grade over 90%, considered world-class.
There is USATF 8K championship prize money, men and women, for the top three overall Masters ($500-300-200), top five age-graded ($700-450-300-200-100), individual age-group winners from 40-44 through 85-89 ($100 each), along with team prize money ($250 for first, $100 for second, from 40-49 through 70-and-over, for scoring teams of three). The home-team Colonial Road Runners will have full teams for men and women, 40-49, 50-59, and 60-69, and Chantry gives them a chance for as many as three team gold medals and two team silver medals.
Both races will start on Jamestown Road , near Phi Beta Kappa Hall on the campus of William and Mary, and include portions through the historic streets of Colonial Williamsburg, before finishing inside W&M’s Zable Stadium. The half marathon also traverses Lafayette Street , York Street, Quarterpath Road , Route 199, and the Colonial Parkway , before returning through the streets of Williamsburg to campus. Post-race festivities will be held at the Sunken Gardens . The race is managed by Dave McGillivray of DMSE Sports, the race director for many years of the Boston Marathon, and is organized by the Achievable Dream office of Newport News , two nationally-recognized K-12 schools.
[Late breaking news – Mbarak Hussein, who will be one of the race favorites, will also be running in the USATF Masters 8K Championship on Saturday]