Crowds cheer nearly 8,000 runners to finish line
Nearly 8,000 runners and their friends and families descended on Fredericksburg on Sunday for the seventh running of the Marine Corps Historic Half events.
The three races—Semper Fred 5K (3.1 miles), Historic 10K (6.2 miles), and the Historic Half (13.1 miles)— began at 7 a.m. Sunday from spots around the city and all finished in front of the Fredericksburg Expo Center.
Folks traveled from 49 states (all but North Dakota) and three countries to participate in the races.
ONE LAST RACE IN THE U.S.
Reginald Williams, a Marine from Shreveport, La., squeezed in one last race, his first Historic Half, before deploying overseas for two years.
“I wanted to run my last race in the U.S. and I wanted to make sure it was Marine Corps-related,” he said. “I thought it was awesome. I didn’t train enough for the hills, but it was a good course.”
Michael and Eden May, who were married in Hurkamp Park on Saturday, ran the half-marathon together.
Before they crossed the finish line, they met some of their bridal party and Eden put on a veil and picked up silk flowers. When they got close to the end, Michael picked Eden up and carried her across the line.
It was the second time the couple completed the race together.
‘PART OF SOMETHING’
Susan Sinton, 45, of Fredericksburg ran the half for the third time.
“I enjoy being part of something so big in Fredericksburg,” she said. “I love the people that come out and cheer us on, the signs, the words of encouragement, the bands, and especially the water station.”
RUNNING FOR HER SON
Amy Pettenger of Riner in Southwest Virginia’s Montgomery County ran the 10K.
She’s run it the past few years with her son, but she ran it solo this year because he’s in the military now.
“I love everybody cheering and the finish and the patriotism,” she said.
She didn’t like Hospital Hill. “I beared through it, but I didn’t like it,” she said. “Even the hills in Blacksburg didn’t prepare me.”
TACKLING THE HILLS
Jamie Ash, 28, of Virginia Beach, who ran the half for the first time, said she thought the course was “pretty hilly.”
“I knew about the big hill, but I wasn’t aware there were others throughout the race,” she said.
She said it was awesome to run through downtown and she even turned off her music so she could hear the spectators cheering.
LOVING THE WEATHER
Robin Branham of Gordonsville ran the 10K.
“It’s awesome,” Branham said afterward. “It’s well-organized and the weather was perfect.”
For 5K and 10K runners, Hospital Hill was at the beginning of the race, something Branham appreciated.
Joe Augello, 49, of Woodbridge ran with his two sons, Benjamin, 17, and Marcelino, 18, in the 10K.
“I like running with a lot of people,” Joe said. “It’s good fellowship, and I ran with my sons for the first time.”
Ben said he liked how encouraging the crowds were on the course.
FOR HIS ‘POP’
Tony Flores, 32, of Stafford County ran in the 5K with his dad, Juan Flores. It was his first time, he said.
“I admire these Marines. It was nice and a new experience,” he said.
Next year, he said, he will bring his kids to run it with them.
CHEERING RACERS ON
Residents along Fall Hill Avenue and Prince Edward Street emerged early Sunday morning to hang banners, brew coffee and cheer on 10K and half-marathon runners as they moved en masse toward the heart of downtown Fredericksburg.
Linda Horn and Tommy Harkins greeted athletes from their porch.
“It’s nice to hear the pitter-patter of the runners’ feet,” Horn said.
Horn and Harkins knew only a few of the runners, but have had a routine for race day since 2010: wake up, brew coffee, cheer runners from the porch and, later, celebrate with an afterparty for runners and their spouses.
Matthew Baugh, an Army combat veteran from Fredericksburg, stood with his 13-year-old daughter, Cora, and her friends. His wife, Valerie, ran the half.
The Baughs represented Team Fisher House, a grass-roots organization supporting military families, and all wore cow hats distributed by the program.
Fresh from a sleepover, Cora said that waking up before sunrise was difficult, but worthwhile.
“Once you’re here, you see people who have been awake a lot longer than you—and it naturally wakes you up,” she said.
Downtown, Dawn DeBaere of Leesburg stood with her brother, Mark Meyers, and sister-in-law to cheer on older sister Denise, who was running with a group from Inova Health System in Northern Virginia.
DeBaere held a motivational sign: “Hurry, there may be beer at the finish line!”
“We’ve gotten a lot of laughs,” Meyers said.
PITAIYO owner Alex Kelly–Maartens encouraged runners with her own mantra outside the mind and body boutique.
“You’re a machine,” she said to a wave of runners while banging on buckets with drumsticks.
Kelly–Maartens, who had previously run the half twice with husband Philip, said that thinking of herself as a machine during races helped keep her energy level high.
“If you think you’re a machine, you don’t think about the pain or the fatigue,” she said. “It’s a great way to keep them going.”
Jim Calvin said his daughter Kaitlyn, 16, will spend the next few days with a hoarse voice, but that did not deter her from calling out encouragements to runners.
Several cheered Kaitlyn’s “Worst Parade Ever” sign while Jim held a sign encouraging them to keep running—from the zombies.
“I know what it’s like to be on the other side of these signs,” Jim said. “We keep them down for the elite runners, because they just want to move on through. But the next third are looking to get a smile, and the ones struggling use it to get themselves through the next half-mile.”