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RRCA Virginia 10 K State Championship Recap

The 33rd running of Elizabeth River Run by the Tidewater Striders was held on Saturday May 26th in the Olde Towne section of Portsmouth, Virginia.  This year’s event was the 2012 Road Runners Club of America’s (RRCA) Virginia State 10 K Championship and it was the first of a full series of state championships. Over 1,000 runners and walkers came out to enjoy beautiful, albeit warm, conditions with clear blue skies and little to no wind.

The course started just outside the Ntelos Pavilion, and after a loop through Olde Towne it was back by the start (with its crowd of spectators!) and along the seawall and into the Portsmouth Naval Hospital campus before returning to the start/finish area. Both the pre-race and post-race activities were held inside the Ntelos Pavilion complex.  Entertainment was provided by a local DJ who spun tunes both old and new and from all genres to keep a party atmosphere prior to the race and before awards were given out. Later, after the awards ceremony, the DJ had runners, walkers, and family members up dancing to his tunes…definitely a festive atmosphere! There was plenty of pizza, water, and beer for all to enjoy, and for the small children in the crowd there were balloon art and face painting activities.

Because this year’s event was a RRCA state championship, the regional running club competitiveness and volunteerism rose to a new level. Two other local running clubs - the Colonial Road Runners (CRR) and the Peninsula Track Club (PTC) - pitched in to help the Tidewater Striders by volunteering at the event as well as competing for individual awards.  The CRR and the PTC combine their clubs’ rosters to compete in an intra-club age-graded challenge and this year’s Elizabeth River Run was one of their challenge’s events.  The combined CRR and PTC group came away with the overall honors but there are more intra-club team challenge.

The overall winner of the race was Ryan Carroll of the Tidewater Striders (33:19) followed closely by Danny Pepovich (33:49). The overall female was Virginia Beach native Renee High (38:20). The male Masters winner was Tom Purcell of the Colonial Road Runners (36:34), and the female Masters winner was Mercedes Casillio-D’amico also of the Colonial Road Runners (42:46), beating several women younger than her.  The male Grand Master winner was Henry Gleisberg, another member of the Colonial Road Runners (38:24) and the female Grand Master was Linda Palluch of the Tidewater Striders (53:23).  The male Senior Grand Master was the Colonial Road Runners president Rick Platt (45:35) and the female Senior Grand Master was Betty Brothers of the Tidewater Striders (53:40).  All the winners received a RRCA State Champion ceramic coaster in recognition of their accomplishment.

After the event, I had a chance to talk to both Jean Phelan, the president of the Tidewater Striders (and 2nd place female 55 -59) and Rick Platt about the event and other RRCA Virginia State Championship events. Each one said having an event be recognized as a RRCA State Championship event was well worth it;  they are going to try to send representatives from their clubs to other State Championship events.  Rick even told me he was “floored, and honored” to have won the Senior Grand Masters award.  To him, it was icing on the cake of a good racing season.
Before and after the 10 K there were two other events: the Crawford Street mile and a Children’s Museum Fun run. The mile, held prior to the 10 K, had 66 runners/walkers ages 4 to 78 and the fun run, for 6 months to 5 year olds, was a 30 yard run held after.

The Elizabeth River Run is one of the oldest events put on by the Tidewater Striders and the proceeds go into the general operations fund to help the Striders provide quality events for all their members. The volunteers at this and all the Strider events helps make everyone’s experience a pleasant one.

Being one of the long standing running events in the area, runners both new and seasoned as well as a great turnout of walkers always come to this event to see old friends and make new ones.  It’s one of those local iconic events where everyone enjoys catching up and sharing stories from runs and races across the decades.  It also proved to be the perfect place to have a RRCA expo tent and RRCA material!  I was able to talk to several runners about the RRCA, pass out informational pamphlets and “We Run the Nation” window stickers.  All in all, a very good start to the 2012 series of Virginia State Championships!

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