Maymont Goes On

RICHMOND, VA -- What a difference a week makes. Last week, everyone was concerned whether or not there would be a Maymont festival given the damage in the area after Hurricane Isabel roared through. But streets were cleared, and on Friday power was restored in the start/finish area to supply the timers, food stands and bands. Set high above the James River, Maymont has to be one of the most picturesque parks in the state. The grounds were beautiful and well kept, and the organizers of this event put on a great show, with live bands, food stands including free food and drinks for the runners, and a superbly prepared course. Flag ropes lined the start and finish areas for 200 meters, and the course was clearly marked with little flags placed in the ground about every 3-5 meters. The course was all grass, except where it crossed asphalt roads and this was overlaid with carpet to protect the runners' spikes. The event was well run, with every event kicking off on time at 10 minute intervals. Timing was accomplished using an electronic chip placed on the ankle. Kudos for the organizers, the Richmond Sportsbackers.

The course itself was extremely challenging, to put it bluntly. If any of you have ever trained in Maymont park you would understand why, it is very hilly. Mile 2 featured a long ¾ mile climb, and the last half mile started with a very steep, but shorter climb prior to a turn and the 200 meter dash to the finish. This is one of the more grueling courses in the state, and I would rate it at about Great Meadows +45.

Following college and open events on Friday evening, Saturday's festivities kicked off with elementary 1 mile races followed by middle school 5-K races before the high school events. Of note was the middle school girls' champion, 13 year old Aurora Scott of Portsmouth whose time of 20:20.10 would have put her sixth overall in the high school A varsity division.

The boys' A varsity race kicked off right on time at 9AM. As soon as the gun sounded, J.R. Tucker sophomore Michael Tucker positioned himself right behind #1 ranked Steven Walters of Green Run. And there Chapa stayed until the final 200 meters when Walters put on an unforgiving burst of speed to open the gap to about 4 seconds and secure his victory with a time of 16:27.90 to Chapa's 16:31.80. Finishing 3rd was Forrest Park junior Bryce Iverson with a time of 16:54.50. Rounding out the top five were the Massaponax junior tandem of Brandon Dick and Michael Disilvestro with times of 17:16.40 and 17:17.00 respectively. Interesting to note that 4 out of the top 5 were underclassmen, which bodes well for the future of Virginia Cross County.

In team standings, J. R. Tucker pulled a surprise upset of highly ranked Maggie Walker by taking the boys A varsity Championship with a team score of 61 by placing their entire first five in the top 25. Without top runner Daniel Howard, Maggie Walker fell to 3rd with a score of 138 behind Forrest Park who just slipped ahead with a team score of 136. However, even with Howard running, J.R. Tucker would have still prevailed as the boys champion. Other boys winners were Kellam who took the boys B Varsity race with a team score of 91 as they barely edged Western Albemarle (97). Boys C Varsity winner was King George with 51 points who beat out Battlefield rival Chancellor which amassed 51 points.

As expected, the girls A Varsity race was completely dominated by Western Albemarle who put there entire squad of five in the top 16 led by Jessica Fanning's first place run of 19:44.50, the only girl to run a sub 20. Forrest Park's Beth Fahey finished second with a time of 20.01.80, Western Albemarle's Tasmin Fanning (20:05.80) just edged St. Catherine's Katie Doswell (20:06.00) to take third and Forrest Park sophomore Stefanie Slekis rounded out the top 5 with a time of 20:14.70. In team standings, Forest Park girls finished second while Maggie Walker tallied 3rd. In other events, Averill Park High School (64) barely edged the Stone Bridge girls to take the B Varsity championship, and another squad of Forest Park girls beat a second squad of Stone Bridge girls for the C Varsity championship.