Williamsburg man places third in Independence Day 8K – Daily Press


Of the six winners (top three men and top three women overall) at Monday’s Yorktown Independence Day 8K on the Yorktown Battlefield Tour Roads, the most fitting and interesting was third-place finisher Russell Reed, 29, of Williamsburg, an employee of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and with an atypical background.

Three men broke the 30-minute barrier for the 8 km (4.97 mile) distance, with the first two out of the zone. Billy Shue, 38, of Charlotte won in 28:49, followed by Benjamin Gillikin, 20, of Long Valley, NJ (29:17) and Reed (29:25). The fastest Masters runners (40-plus) were Timothy Suhr, 50, of Williamsburg (31:37), fourth, and Kelvin Anderson, 61, of Newport News (34:01), seventh. Jordan Spector, 35, of Virginia Beach, husband of Bethany Spector (the No. 1-ranked runner at Hampton Roads last year, but now pregnant) finished fifth overall in 32:16.

On the women’s side, the top five were Kelsey Rodriguez, 35, of Hampton (34:16), Kari Tallent, 40, of Portsmouth (34:48), Megan Schulze, 39, of Newport News (35:28) , Svetlana Goncharova, 24, of Williamsburg (36:51) and Maggie Hudson, 23, of North Chesterfield (37:13). The second female Masters (after Tallent) was seventh-place Kelly Cox, 44, of Williamsburg (38:09).

Reed’s running saga began at Mathews High (Class of 2011), where he ran track, cross country, wrestled and played football. He had a high school PR of 4:30 in the mile and 5:16 in the cross country 5K. Reed emailed: “A first place finish at 5:30 p.m. in the William and Mary Invite alumni bronze class race helped me get the attention of a few trainers. Because I was playing football at the same time as cross country, they thought I had more potential (even though I was a better wrestler, repeating regional titles).

Reed ran for Longwood University (Class of 2016), where he still holds the 5k cross country record of 15:55. “I started with JYF in 2013 as a summer job which I enjoyed. I am Atakapa-Ishak (a native Louisiana tribe) on my father’s side and grew up with an interest in traditional skills and indigenous history.I am now the assistant site supervisor for the town of Paspahegh in Jamestown and as of last week returning home from 6 months of infantry school at Fort Benning for the National Guard I haven’t run or competed much or seriously in the past few years after Longwood, but now that I’m home, I’m aiming to change that, and I’m also aiming to start focusing on longer distances, ultramarathons mostly I’m the least scientific of runners, especially in recent years, but I believe my 8K PR is 26:12 and 10K PR is 33:00, or roundabouts I like hunting , fishing and boxing as hobbies/activities, and making canoes is a traditional skill that I tried to bring to Jamestown and hope to revive and further afield in general.”

Race winner Shue took off from the start and was never passed, but then was surprised that the next two were so close.

“I was visiting a friend and her family who live near Poquoson, and found out about 8K through them, as they were going to run it as well. I was also very intrigued by the run around the historic Yorktown battlefield given the rich history there on such a fitting day. I had no idea how close Benjamin and Russell’s chase group was, because I don’t look behind me when I run, and I run with the mentality that someone is always on my heels. I absolutely like the lesson! The course offered plenty of shade, was relatively flat/smooth rolling, and had a very soft running surface for the legs. More importantly, it was super cool and surreal to run on the battlefield that was the site of the decisive engagement of the American Revolution and to run there on Independence Day – I get chills just thinking about it! Shue has been competing since college and graduate school (since 2008) and has PRs of 2:36:01 (Boston Marathon), 1:14:21 (Half Marathon), 57:00 (10 miles), 34 : 32 (10K) and 16:09 (5K).

Runner-up Gillikin was visiting family in Yorktown and researched an Independence Day race online. Like Shue, he loved the course. “It was an incredible experience to run around historic Surrender Field on Independence Day. To be part of a race at such a historic site was incredible.

Hampton female winner Rodriguez raced mostly Southside events last year, but was introduced to Yorktown racing by a local. “I run this route once or twice a month, so I signed up. Kari [runner-up Tallent] was quick, I was hoping she hadn’t planned the hill [up to the Route 17 overpass] before mile four. Against my better judgment, I decided before the hills that I was going to pass it, started to climb the hill, passed it, and just tried to survive the rest of the race. On the way, I was like, ‘I think I can win this’. It was the first time that I placed first female. I often place in age groups, nevertheless I was very excited. I almost feel like the power of positivity played a huge role.

Tallent also races mainly on the Southside, emailing: “I live in Portsmouth and can’t get to the peninsula for races very often (after Monday’s race I might change that as it was wonderful and a great change of scenery.” She discovered running through a group of runners based at Momac’s Brewery in Portsmouth.” As far as competition goes, I think Kelsey passed me halfway course and I just couldn’t hold on. Once we crossed the finish line, we congratulated each other with smiles and fist bumps.

Suhr, fourth overall and chief petty officer, emailed: “There were about 15 people who broke out quickly but after about a mile and a half it shook where 7 of us were. The course was very beautiful and mostly shady and I loved it. It was my first time running there.” Like Reed, he will focus on longer runs, having run the Boston and Big Sur marathons in April, then the Windsor Castle Park 10 Hour Run at Smithfield, which he won with a total of 50 miles. The Seashore 50K in December is scheduled, but “I’m also on the waiting list for the Javalina 100 Miler in Arizona and I hope to participate in this race in October.”

Kelvin Anderson was one of the main road runners on the Peninsula in the 1990s, but took a long hiatus and started again a few years ago with the Poquoson Day 5K, “which sparked my interest again. During my training course with the CRR [Colonial Road Runners], who I believe was directly responsible for some of the times I ran; 5K 16:11, 10K 34:34, 8K 27:00, half marathon 1:16:00 and marathon 2:45:01. Although modest times, those races and the interval sessions at Barksdale Field were some of the most fun times of my life. Anderson emailed: ‘I retired from the Newport News Fire Department a few years ago, but before that I went back to school for my paralegal degree, which I worked on in this profession until the pandemic. Since then, I am completely retired.

The historic and patriotic run was led by Don Kline, Julie Smith and Bonnie Karwac of York County Historical Museum, the beneficiary of the run. This year’s race honored sailors who had served on the USS Yorktown CG-48, and all graduates received a large, beautiful die-cast medal with the battleship on it. Kline commented, “It was a highly patriotic event. The runners dressed in their best red, white and blue outfits. Some carried flags on stanchions throughout the race. Wow!”

Jim Elder of Colonial Sports Timing, who did the chip timing for the race for the first time, emailed: “We were delighted to have been asked to help the directors time this event. The Yorktown Independence Day course is the best 8K course on the peninsula. It is an honor to run on this hallowed ground on the day we celebrate our country’s independence. The motto of USS Yorktown is “Victory is our tradition”. I think everyone who participated encountered this motto.

Next year’s race will add a 5K to the longer competitive 8K.

The No. 1-ranked male racer at Hampton Roads, W&M graduate Roger Hopper, 31, of Chesapeake, a seven-time defending CRR Grand Prix champion and six-time defending Hampton Roads Super Grand Prix champion, had high hopes for his own 5K on July 4 and a serious attempt to improve on his 5K PR from last October’s 15:14 in Billsburg.

With a five-week break between CRR Grand Prix races (from the FURever 8K on the Greensprings Trail on June 11 to the Night Owl 9K at Freedom Park on July 16), Hopper trained hard and peaked for YMCA Independence Day. 5K in Virginia Beach. Hopper emailed: “Race was going well, was about to drop under 4:50 for the first mile when they sent us the wrong way. I was hoping there was a good reason for us to take the wrong path, that turned out to be just a mistake, but I kept splitting 4:53 for the second mile on my Garmin, and that was weaving around the tons of people we were overlapping because of the course error. After that I tried to correct the error and get everyone to at least run 3.1 miles, and no more, yelling at the bike leader and asking everyone to make the final turnaround sooner, but he didn’t listen.

Hopper did the correct 5K of 3.1 miles with a time of 15:33, but everyone else did a long 3.45 miles. I believe I would have done public relations if not for the mistakes along the way, which are mentally hard to maintain when your concentration is so derailed and you realize it might be for nothing. Zachary Helm, who can run in the 15s for 5K was a finalist in 18:02 for the long course. Helm helped push Hopper for the first mile, before the fiasco happened.

Rick Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.


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