Plenty to cheer about at Historic Half races
BY PAMELA GOULD / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Local auto dealer Tim Pohanka was so impressed by the seamless operation of last year’s Historic Half in Fredericksburg, he decided to run in a race operated by Marine Corps Marathon officials.
Growing up as more of a swimmer than a runner, he chose the 10K race that was run in association with last October’s Marine Corps Marathon, which starts and ends in Arlington and travels through Washington.
After that experience, Pohanka, 43, approached Historic Half officials to see how his company could be involved with this year’s event on May 18 in Fredericksburg.
“Watching them, I said, ‘This is an event you want to be part of,’” said Pohanka, who lives in the city of Fredericksburg and works as vice president and general manager of Pohanka Nissan at Four-Mile Fork in Spotsylvania County.
Pohanka Nissan will have five vehicles at different spots along the 13.1-mile course. They will be decorated with messages of support for the runners.
People can submit messages via Pohanka’s Facebook page. The dealer will also provide poster board and magic markers at Hurkamp Park downtown on race day for people to make signs to hold up to cheer on the runners along the course.
“We’re bringing a little bit of the element of Boston down here to Fredericksburg,” said Pohanka, whose uncle ran the Boston Marathon last year and this year and blogged about the experience, noting the enthusiastic support runners receive along the route.
The Marine Corps Historic Half has always had revelry of its own with various groups posted along the route such as folks in Colonial-era garb and Civil War uniforms plus singing groups, cheerleaders, dancers, therapy dogs and area residents all encouraging the runners.
The Marine Corps Historic Half is in its seventh year. The event includes three races all starting at 7 a.m.: the 13.1-mile Historic Half, the Historic 10K and the Semper Fred 5K.
The half marathon travels from the Fredericksburg Expo Center through downtown Fredericksburg and back to the Expo Center.
The 10K will start this year on Fall Hill Avenue at Virginia Avenue. The 5K will start at the intersection of Fall Hill Avenue and U.S. 1 in front of Fredericksburg Shopping Center.
Runners in all three races finish at the Expo Center and get to experience the infamous climb of Hospital Hill, located by the Mary Washington Hospital emergency department entrance.
For this year’s races, shuttles from nearby commuter lots are being eliminated as well as shuttles to starting points.
Instead, runners taking part in the 10K and 5K should park near the starting points for those races and will then be shuttled back to that area afterward, said Marine Corps Marathon spokeswoman Tami Faram.
As a first-time sponsor for the Marine Corps Historic Half, Pohanka Nissan is not only going to have vehicles on course decorated with messages of cheer, the company will also provide a camouflage-covered vehicle as the pace car for the Semper Fred 5K, Faram said.
The three races combined could put as many as 10,000 runners on Fredericksburg streets. Registration for the 13.1-mile race is limited to 8,000 runners and the shorter races to 1,000 each.
As of Wednesday, there was still room to register for each race but the slots were filling. The Historic Half had 6,544 registrations, the 10K had 762, and the 5K had 562, according to Marine Corps Marathon Marketing Manager Marc Goldman.
Tim Pohanka and his 21-year-old son, Timmy Pohanka, will be running the Historic 10K along with about 10 other people from his dealership.
After reading his uncle’s Boston Marathon blog and having his own race experience, Pohanka will be looking forward to seeing signs of encouragement along the way.
“I can tell you, every time you run by crowds of people, you run better,” he said.
He understands that for most people—including himself—the race isn’t about winning.
“People have a sense of accomplishment when they finish,” Pohanka said. “That’s what we want to celebrate—those individual accomplishments.”
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
Olympian Lauryn Williams, the first American woman to medal in both a Summer and Winter games and the fifth person on the planet to achieve that feat, will be the starter for the Marine Corps Historic Half on May 18.
The sprinter and bobsledder also will be one of the speakers participating in the Historic Half Speakers Series on May 17 as part of the Healthy Lifestyle Expo at the Fredericksburg Expo Center. She is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. about her Olympic experiences. She also will be available for photos and autographs.
Williams was born in Pennsylvania and attended the University of Miami where she was the 2004 NCAA champion in the 100 meters. She medaled in two Summer Olympics, earning a silver medal in the 100 meter race in the 2004 games in Athens, Greece, and a gold in the 4 x 100-meter relay in London.
In February, she teamed with Elana Meyers to capture the silver medal in women’s Olympic bobsled competition in Sochi, Russia.
Williams has a sibling in the U.S. Navy stationed in San Diego and said through Historic Half organizers that being part of the weekend activities provides a way to thank military personnel and their families.
“I am looking forward to the Historic Half to show my appreciation for members of the military and for all that they do,” she said.
Slots are still open to run in the Marine Corps Historic Half races.
The Historic Half, Historic 10K and Semper Fred 5K all start at 7 a.m. on May 18.
To register: marine
This year, there will be no shuttles to the starting points. However, runners taking part in the 10K and 5K will be shuttled from the Walmart in Central Park after the race back to the starting areas so they can get their cars.
Parking for the 10K and 5K will be available that morning at James Monroe High School, the Mary Washington Healthcare lot at 2300 Fall Hill Ave., and Mary Washington lots along Elm, Germania and Progress streets.
The Historic 10K starts on Fall Hill Avenue at Virginia Avenue.
The Semper Fred 5K starts on U.S. 1 at Fall Hill Avenue, in front of Fredericksburg Shopping Center.
Pursuing physical fitness has financial rewards.
First-time sponsor Pohanka Nissan is offering discounts to runners through July. People showing their runner’s bib or finisher’s medal can get $500 off the purchase of a car and discounts on oil changes: $13 off for half-marathon runners, $10 off for those running the 10K and $5 off for 5K runners.
The Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center is offering free entrance to the museum to all runners on the Historic Half weekend on May 17–18.
In addition, 10K and 5K runners who live in the Fredericksburg area will receive free yearlong memberships and discounts to the museum, said Marine Corps Marathon spokeswoman Tami Faram.