The 11th Annual Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHTRC) Women's Half-Marathon Trail Run began under cloudy skies and raindrops. The course was saturated by heavy rain in the early hours of the morning preceding the race. Undaunted by the conditions, 163 starters lined the parking lot at Fountainhead Regional Park for the start. They listened to a rousing rendition of "Happy Trails" sung by our enthusiastic, all-male cheerleading squad, then they were off to splash in the puddles, slosh in the mud, and enjoy the rolling hills, the green canopy, and the soft cushion of earth beneath their feet. Lynn Jennings said, "The freedom of cross-country is primitive. It's woman vs. nature." How apt those words were!
The weather did not dampen the volunteers' spirits. Some of the volunteers were on the course for eight hours, so they have a deep commitment to this event. Their services were invaluable and, without them, the race would not be possible. In addition to the aid station at the start/finish area, there were three others, one of which the runners saw twice. All of the stations were well-supplied with assorted goodies, such as truffles, homemade cookies, fruit, chips, pretzels, candy, and various beverages. With food and water approximately every two to three miles, the runners said that they enjoyed the pampering.
In this 11th edition, the winner, Kristin Eddy, ran a sizzling 1:49:56 time for a new course record. Jennifer Flint finished second in 1:52:43, while Jessie Sackett finished in 1:57:38. They received folding chairs with this year's race logo sewn on them. Five-year age category winners received $25 gift certificates or bottles of homemade wine.
For the second year we had the "run with an animal" contest, in which runners were given stuffed animals to carry to the finish line. One of the volunteers was amazed at the ingenuity of the runners in carrying their plush trinkets in jog bras, shorts, and waist packs. Runners presented their animals for prizes at the finish line. For the first time, mother-daughter teams competed for prizes. Kathy and Selena Smart finished first in a combined time of 5:44:55. Cindy and Valerie Hagan captured second place with a combined time of 6:40:37. Due to a technical glitch, I originally omitted the third mother/daughter team that finished the run. Congratulations to Aimee and Sandy Forehand, who completed the course in a combined time of 7:26:37. Each team received fleece throws with this year's race logo sewn on them.
I would like to thank all of the volunteers for their time, service, and commitment. In addition to our numerous volunteers, I would like to thank the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority for its support. I also would like to thank our sponsors – ASICS, Metro Run & Walk, Nancy Harrell – Consultant for Longaberger Basket, Patagonia, and the VHTRC for their support and generous contributions. I would like to extend a special thanks to Valerie Meyer for race timing. Her efforts behind the scene and at the finish line were invaluable.
Visit Anstr Davidson's electronic gallery of pictures on this site. In addition to marking the first half of the course, Anstr also tirelessly spent hours trying to capture every competitor on "film."
Eleven years ago the women's half-marathon trail run was begun with purpose of getting women out running on the trails. The run grew in popularity and exceeded the VHTRC's expectations. This year the run filled within three weeks of the entry being available on the website. This was due in part to the work of Jeanne Christie, Co-Race Director, who was the race director for the last 10 of the eleven years of the race's existence. Without her time and efforts, the women's half-marathon trial run would not be what it is today. For most of the past year Jeanne was my consultant and mentor on race directing. As some of you know, Jeanne is moving to Maine, so she groomed me for being the race director. I hope that I can fill her running shoes. Join me in thanking Jeanne for all of her contributions and wishing her the best always in her new home and in her new life.
Congratulations again to all of the competitors and thanks again to all of our volunteers. Remember to check the VHTRC website on June 1, 2004 for the entry form for the 12th Annual VHTRC Women's Half-Marathon Trail Run.
About the Photos
There are many photos of the event available on this Web site. They vary in quality. The ones from the first aid station (Photo Page Three) are fuzzy, and may not be worth the wait for the download on a slow connection. The photos from the finish line are better. The pictures are in collages. If you want an individual photo e-mailed to you, there is information on how to do that at the bottom of each photo page. The picture pages are designed so that pictures load in the background while you are viewing. This may take a while on a slow connection.
I understand that the professional photographer did not show. You are stuck with these! At least the price is right!
2003 Practice Runs: A large group showed up for the first practice run for the Womens Half Marathon. The weather was gorgeous and the trail was dry. A great day to run. We learned that the first mile of trail that had been blazed yellow is now blazed red. But don't worry, the course will be well marked on race day. Th second practice run was a little warmer. Practice Run Photo Collages: First | Second | Third.