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Saturday, February 24, 2001 -- Blacksburg, VA
Blacksburg Classic 10 Mile & 5K
Story by Steve Crowder with photos by Leslie Crowder

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results By Class] [Fun Run/Walk Participants]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Pic Set 4]

Race Start
Elbow to elbow at the start
Competitive fields and good weather made course records the theme of the day for Saturday's Blacksburg Classic 5k and 10 miler in Blacksburg, Virginia. When all was said and done, overall records had fallen in the men's 5k, the men's 10-miler, and the women's 10-miler, with some impressive times being posted in the age group divisions as well.

The racing began at 1PM with the 5k and 10-miler starting simultaneously from the Margaret Beeks Elementary School. Runners in both races would encounter challenging courses, both of which contained some rolling hills and a slightly uphill finish. Adding to the challenge was the notorious wind of the New River Valley, which not only made the going tough in places, but also made the 50-degree temperatures feel a little chilly at times.

In the 5k, it was Jay Johns of Blacksburg, Virginia, who quickly moved to the front of the race. Johns, a former standout runner at Virginia Tech, was using the race as a tune up for the Gate River Run 15k in Jacksonville, Florida, March 10. The Gate River Run serves as the US National Championship for the 15k distance, and Johns showed he is ready to run fast. He completed the downhill first mile of the course in just over 4:40 to take a lead he would not relinquish.

David Angell
Racing the scenic country roads of Virginia
Early in the race, Johns was pursued closely by David Angell of Salem, Virginia, and a pack of other runners battling for third. In the end, it would be Johns winning in a course record time of 15:26, with Angell second in 16:51, and Will Colban winning the battle for third in 17:01. Dan Britten took the top masters spot with a time of 17:27, and David Bevan was the grand masters winner, finishing in 23:32.

On the women's side of the 5k, a close race was staged between Laura Hodges and Roxanne Reasor. Reasor, who is from Blacksburg and a former Virginia Tech runner, is a familiar winner in local races and was the defending champion. But, Hodges proved to be too much on this day as she pulled away in the second half of the race to win in 19:49. Reasor held on for second in 20:17 with Amanda Masters grabbing the third spot in 20:23.

Yuriko Renardy was first in the women's masters division. Renardy completed the course in 23:40, which was just over a minute faster than she had run the previous year.

In the 10-miler, Steve Crowder of Fincastle, Virginia, went out fast and took a commanding lead. The 10-mile course was out and back on the paved Huckleberry Trail, with the return trip containing a little more uphill than the trip out. Crowder would later admit that he paid for his fast early pace, adding that the hills and the headwind on the way back didn't help.

Jay Johns
Blacksburg's finest keep it safe for everyone
Despite running substantially slower in the second half of the race, Crowder held on for the win in a course record time of 53:33. Taking second in the men's division of the 10-miler was Craig Swisher. Swisher ran strong and consistent throughout, to finish with a time of 55:28, also under the previous course record. Taking the third spot and first place in the master's division was Larry Taylor of Fayetteville, WV. Taylor, who had won the 10-mile race the previous two years, finished in 57:56. Doc Weiss took the prize for the grand masters with a time of 1:02:59.

In the women's 10-miler, Aimee Phillippi became the final record breaker of the day, finishing the race in 1:05:17 to win convincingly. Phillippi took almost 5 minutes off her time from the year before when she had finished fourth. Nicole Franchina, the third place finisher in 2000, also improved her time from the previous year and moved up a spot as well to take second in 1:08:02. Nancy Ferris rounded out the top three and took the masters win in 1:12:15. Donna Akers was the grand masters winner with a time of 1:24:37.

After the race, runners gathered for the awards ceremony and some good food that included bagels, cookies, and lots of other treats. The overall men's and women's winners of both races received engraved glass plates and $60 for their efforts. Second place also received a plate and $40. Master's and grand master's winners took home some money as well, receiving $25 each. Age group winners received unique Blacksburg Classic glasses and coffee mugs.

Special thanks to the Blacksburg Striders and Mike Holland for all their hard work in making the race a success. Sponsors of the race included Montgomery Regional Hospital, NRV Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, MISH MISH, Bogen's, East Coasters, and Jump'n Jax.