The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 15
Run. "It was a real asset to promote the company." As
in those great red shirts. And caps and umbrellas. And
beer at the after-race!
Gary Adkins (16:37 PR) approached his bosses
about beer at Virginia Western toward the end of his
20-year run (1982-2002) as race director of what was
perhaps the most precisely conducted race of all the
5Ks - The Virginia Western 5K - and got turned down
for safety reasons.
(I could digress a moment here to tell a story on my
wife - a fine 5Ker in her day with a 22:17 PR and a big
jar of dusty medals to show for her efforts - and how one
fine Saturday 25 or so years back after the Brambleton
4-Miler, she had a quick beer, hustled on along toward
the teeball game for the youngest son - up at Breckinridge Elementary - got pulled over on the 10th Street
Bridge for being in a little hurry and had to use her
still-attached race number to help talk herself out of
a daggone Drankin' in the Mornin'. But I'd better not,
because Gail hates that story as much as she hates any
time I mention how badly she wastes her running talents these days. These years!)
Among Adkins' Roanoke-area firsts in the VWCC
race: First long-sleeve shirts, custom medals, no ads
(but years) on the shirts.
But then he also had the hardest course around.
"I ran 100 miles all around Virginia Western trying
to find a flatter course and it just wouldn't work any
other way." The combination of traffic patterns, safety
concerns and geographic realities conspired to create
that memorably grueling course.
Adkins, who ran his first race in 1977 ("Marine Corps
Marathon , with a $3 entry fee!"), and remains at or near
the top of his age group in area races, also notes the
falloff in times: "There are more people running races,"
he says, "but the average times continue to deteriorate.
And there are many more women."
Yost's records include anecdotal proof of that phenomenon, in the form of participation numbers at the
Boston Marathon, which he ran in '95 and '96. In 1974,
Check the form, the shorts, the shirt, the socks (!) on this
totally unidentifiable runner in the 1987 Dominion Festival
5K. In evidence of the overall slowdown of 5K times over
the decades: He was 12th in the 40-44 age group at
19:22, a time which would have easily won the 40-44 in
the 2014 Festival 5K, where the top finisher ran 20:48.
there were 1,951 runners in that race, 46 of whom (2
percent) were female. In 2013, there were 26,839 participants, and 11,606 were females (43 percent!)
It is, of course, an entirely individual and personal
undertaking, running a road race. One person's bemoaning of slowing to beyond 25 minutes in a 5K is
another person's glee at finally achieving that time.
And as precise as most long-time runners are about
tracking their times and miles, the history of area races
seems far less so, ar least from my calls, false leads and
"I think it was/Well, maybe" kinds of information.
In that context, and in the context of the distinct
pleasure of running amid, behind and even occasionally
ahead of hundreds of fellow 5Kers over these 35 or so
years, I hope those who do know additional area 5K history will let me know: Who was there at the finish line
for a 5K race in the Roanoke area in 1974? Please get me
the info and we'll clarify the record next issue. Contact:
And hey, hope your miles today are smooth ones.