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Sunday, March 30, 2003 -- Winchester, VA
Rotary 5K & 1/4 Mile Kids Run (iPO Event Id#: 5639)
Story & photos by Karsten Brown, with additional photos by Mark Stickley, Jolene Rippey, & Mrs. Dunlap.

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [Overall Results] [Results by Class] [Kids Race]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[2000 Coverage] [2001 Coverage] [2002 Coverage]

Race Start
Heading out into Jim Barnett Park
Four years, eight different winners! This year it was Brad Rippey and Carolyn Wilson leading 87 other runners and walkers at the fourth annual Rotary 5K, a fine running race hosted by the Shenandoah Valley Runners and the Winchester Rotary Club. Once again the participants followed a moderately hilly 3.1 mile course around Jim Barnett Park and through the Shenandoah University campus in Winchester, Virginia.

The race can be a challenge to one's pacing skills, as a couple of quick hills in the first mile soften up your legs for a long, gradual 0.7 mile incline at the halfway point. A number of runners went out too fast and paid for it by the time they reached the rolling final mile. But at least the weather was not too bad this year, with temperatures in the mid-60s and a breeze passing through the fairly humid air. Some light rain fell as runners warmed up before the 9 AM start time, but the precipitation stopped in time for a faint rainbow to appear just minutes before race director Chris Northrup shouted "Go!".

Ed Grainger & Kasey Kelican
A sprint to the finish
Quickly heading out to the front of the pack were valley-area runners Rippey and Frank Curiel, along with Dennis Coleman and Tom Leitz from the Washington, DC area. But as the race progressed, Rippey, 36, showed why he won the Shenandoah Valley Runners' Winter Series recently. The Bunker Hill, WV resident gradually pulled away to win in 17:21 (the fifth fastest finish time in the race's four-year history). Coleman, a 45-year-old resident of Gaithersburg, MD, crossed the line in second place sixteen seconds later. 24-year-old Herndon, VA runner Leitz took third in 18:02, seventeen seconds ahead of Curiel in fourth.

21-year-old SVR member Mary Smith set a quick pace early among the women, but experience won out in the end. 43-year-old Carolyn Wilson of Millwood, who excels at races of much longer distances, ended up pulling away for a 20:58 win. While this wasn't Wilson's best time at the Rotary 5K, it was her highest finish-- she placed third overall at the 2001 race, finishing thirteen seconds faster than she did this year. Coming across one place behind Wilson that year was Winchester's own Sandra Adams, and whaddya know? The now 53-year-old Adams followed Wilson across the finish line this year as well, grabbing the runner-up prize in a solid 21:17. The young Smith held on for third in 21:39.

Neal Riemesnshcneider masters the 5K
Although three of the men's and women's overall winners were over the age of 39, the Masters awards go to the fastest 40 & over runners who didn't win an overall award. Taking advantage of that on the men's side was the local running institution known as Neal Riemenschneider, who had also nabbed the top male Masters spot at the '00 and '01 races. Riemenschneider managed to hold off Chantilly's Tom Cook to finish eleven seconds ahead in 19:04. Martinsburg's Mike Meadows stayed strong for third Masters in 19:31.

Among the female Masters runners, Williamsport, MD's Margaret Horioka returned to the race for a second year, and while she ran a few seconds slower than she did in 2002 (25:05 this year), she improved upon her second place age group placement last year to win the female Masters award this time 'round. Horioka also beat Clarke County High School cross-country and track coach Nancy Specht, to whom she had lost the top spot in her age group last year. The 50-year-old Specht took the second Masters award this year in 25:39, and White Post, VA's Ann Hirschy won third in 27:28.

Kirsten Mullin
The kids got their chance to run
The ages of the 89 runners this year ran the gamut from seven to seventy-nine, with Clearbrook's Brett Lewin being the youngest finisher (and winning the 9 & under age group!) and Berryville's cheerfully steady Robie Cone being the oldest. The Rotary 5K seems to have trouble drawing female participants, however. Just 28% of this year's finishers were women, the lowest percentage in the race's short history. Only one women's age group had more than three competitors. We have no idea why so few women run this race each year, so we'll just have to hope to see more female runners in the future!

A couple minutes after the final 5Kers came in, thirteen youngsters lined up for the quarter-mile kids run. The children, aged three to ten, faced the usual mostly flat out-and-back route starting and finishing at the 5K finish line. Because results of the kids run were not kept, your author is not sure who the winners were. But hey, each of the kids received a medal, so I doubt they had any complaints!

Bring on the prizes!
The 5K award winners also received medals, although it took a while for some of the winners to get 'em! Yes, we admit that we had some problems with the post-race results calculations. We saddled a couple of non-running Rotarians with the task of compiling the awards list, and, well, we didn't really instruct them well enough about the vagarities of race awards. How were they to know that a Masters runner who finished in the top three overall should be given an overall award instead? Thankfully the runners at the awards ceremony seemed to react to the errors with patience and friendly laughter, something for which we were most grateful. We'll certainly do better next year!

And aside from the awards, the race was terrific, thanks to the race directorship of Chris Northrup and the assistance of the Winchester Rotary Club, the Winchester police, and various members of the Shenandoah Valley Runners. The proceeds from the race will benefit Rotary Charities!

Helping out the cause were our race sponsors: Jim Stutzman Chevrolet, Cadillac, & Buick; H.N. Funkhouser, Co.; Edward Jones; Action Mortgage; Powhatan School; White House National Fruit Products; Linden Heights Animal Hospital; Virginia Property Group, Inc.; Valley Health System; Signet Screen Printing & Embroidery; Alpenglow Sparkling Cider; DK Industrial Services; Apple Blossom Mall; Clarke Motors; and Phillip S. Griffin II. And of course we have to thank iPlayOutside for putting up this report, the race results, and our many photos. We'll see y'all next March!