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Historic Half races may draw 10,000 runners in Fredericksburg

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As many as 10,000 runners will be pounding Fredericksburg’s pavement May 19 when the sixth annual Marine Corps Historic Half gets underway.

The field for the half marathon race expanded to 8,000 this year, and both the Semper Fred 5K and the new Historic 10K will allow up to 1,000 runners.

With three distances to choose from, the event offers something for every level of runner, increasing the chances there’s a race for everyone in the family, Marine Corps Historic Half spokeswoman Tami Faram said.

By midday Thursday, nearly 700 people had signed up for the 5K, nearly 850 for the 10K and more than 7,300 for the half marathon, she said.

That leaves about 1,250 spots before the maximum is reached, and Faram said it’s not unusual to see people signing up in the week leading up to an event.

Registration for all three races will remain open through May 18 unless a race hits its maximum number before then.

Current registration includes people from 47 states, the District of Columbia and eight foreign countries.

The first year of the Historic Half, registrations were cut off at 5,000. The field has grown steadily each year, with about 7,800 registered for last year’s race.

Karen Hedelt, Fredericksburg’s director of economic development and tourism, said Marine Marathon officials do an excellent job of managing the event that stretches over three days and brings people into the city’s restaurants, hotels and tourist sites.

“We think it’s a wonderful event and we’re looking forward to hosting it again,” she said.

The city provides free shuttles during the weekend to carry people back and forth between the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center and downtown so they can enjoy the sights and shopping as well as tracking friends and family participating in the races.

City Manager Bev Cameron said the annual event “always creates challenges and conflicts” because of the volume of visitors and road closures around Fredericksburg on race day, but said the day has always gone smoothly because it is “highly orchestrated and well-managed.”

This year’s event has a handful of changes in addition to the new 10K race.

There will no longer be a race dedicated to children and no strollers will be allowed on course. However, organizers believe the three distances offer enough options for all ages.

All races start at the same time this year—7 a.m.—but each starts at a different location.

The 5K starts at roughly the 10-mile mark of the Historic Half course in front of Fredericksburg Shopping Center. The 10K begins at about the 6.5-mile mark near Quarles Petroleum, which is located at 1701 Fall Hill Ave.

Those starting points mean every runner will get to experience “Hospital Hill,” the infamous climb up Mary Washington Boulevard past the Mary Washington Hospital emergency room entrance.

That challenge comes between the 10- and 11-mile marks of the 13.1-mile half marathon.

Faram said people who run the Marine Corps Marathon each October end at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, finishing the 26.2-mile course by trekking up a hill to the iconic statue of five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the flag on Iwo Jima.

“Runners [in that race] have certainly become aware you become a Marine that day and take the hill,” Faram said.

Incorporating Hospital Hill into everyone’s Fredericksburg run carries on that tradition, she said.

A runners bRUNch was added to the Saturday schedule this year. The May 18 event includes a 5K run followed by a catered brunch with “Marathon Junkie” Chuck Engle as speaker. Engle earned his nickname by completing more than 300 marathons.

The half marathon starts and finishes at the Expo Center, which also serves as the finish line for the other two races.

It’s also the site for packet pickup and the two-day Healthy Lifestyle Expo that is free and open to the public.

The Healthy Lifestyle Expo will offer more than 200 vendors of health, exercise and nutrition information as well as a variety of speakers.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972



The sixth year of the Marine Corps Historic Half weekend, May 18–19 brings a few changes.

  • Addition of the Historic 10K race.
  • All races—the Semper Fred 5K, Historic 10K and Historic Half—start at the same time, 7 a.m.
  • All races end at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center but each has a different starting point as follows:
  • Historic Half:
  • Expo Center
  • Historic 10K: Near the Quarles Petroleum Inc. parking lot, 1701 Fall Hill Ave. (about the 6.5-mile mark of the Historic Half route).
  • Semper Fred 5K: Fredericksburg Shopping Center in front of the Verizon store, U.S. 1 Bypass and Fall Hill Avenue (roughly the 10-mile mark of the Historic Half route).
  • Addition of a runners bRUNch on Saturday. This includes a 5K run followed by a catered brunch with “Marathon Junkie” Chuck Engle, who has completed more than 300 marathons and earned a record 271 sub three-hour finishes, according to organizers. The run starts at 9 a.m. at VA Runner in Central Park and ends at the Expo Center where brunch will be served. Cost is $25. The event is open to anyone, but space is limited. Register online or at packet pickup.

Register for all events.