In addition to the information below, an archive of articles by Rick Platt about the inductees can be found here.
A Pikes Peak warrior, a member of a record-setting American Masters team, and a marathon man are the newest additions to the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame.
The Class of 2016 includes Dale Abrahamson of Yorktown, Rick Samaha of Williamsburg, and Ben Dyer of Toano. All were honored at the Peninsula Track Club's awards banquet Saturday night in Yorktown, and they'll be honored again at this Saturday's Colonial Road Runners awards banquet in Williamsburg.
Abrahamson, a 1971 U.S. Military Academy graduate, called his completion of the 2008 Pikes Peak Ascent a 13.1-mile racing challenge up the renowned Colorado mountain the biggest accomplishment of his 37 years of running. He was 59 at the time.
To get to the summit of the 14,115-foot mountain, he had to battle the worst weather conditions he's ever been in a steady rain, 20-25 mph winds, and an unexpected snow storm at various altitudes.But despite some scary moments, he survived.
"After going hypothermic above 13,000-plus feet and staggering across the finish line, it took over an hour to reset my core temperature," he said.
Samaha, a longtime physician on the Peninsula, is well-known in area running circles for being a member of the USATF National Masters 50+ championship team that set the 4x800-meter American masters record of 9:06.9 in Boston in 2008.
His teammates included Danny Schlickenmeyer, Jim Goggin and Steve Chantry.
Also in 2008, Samaha was a member of the Colonial Road Runners team that won the USA National Masters 50+ Club team title in Greensboro, N.C. Other members of that cross-country 5K team included Jim Bates, Hank Gleisburg, Jim Thornton, Rick Platt and Chantry.
When it comes to the marathon, Dyer has always liked the 26.2-mile challenge. So much so that he's competed in 33 marathons in 24 years, including four in Boston and two in New York City.
He's competed at the Richmond Marathon 15 times, at the Shamrock eight times, the Marine Corps twice, and at Atlantic City and Grandfather Mountain once. He posted his personal best of 2:38:13 at the 1985 Marine Corps race at age 42.
Besides Pikes Peak, Abrahamson, 67, has compiled a list of other significant accomplishments, especially in his age group after turning 50.
In 2002, he placed second in the 50-54 age group at the RRCA National 10K Championship and in 2008 he took first in the Monument Avenue 10K in the 55-59 class. In the 60-64 division, he added wins in the Monument Avenue 10K and at the Shamrock 8K.
In the 65-69 age group, Abrahamson took second in the 2014 Richmond Marathon and second in the 2015 Richmond Half Marathon.
One of his most exciting thrills came in last year's Boston Marathon.
"Getting to the finish line was amazing," he said. "People cheering from start to finish carried me along and kept me focused throughout the 3-hour and 56-minute, 70-plus-degree ordeal."
Samaha, who grew up in New Hampshire, began making his mark as a runner in high school, leading Phillips Exeter Academy to the New England Prep School cross-country championship. In 1976 he set the school's 2-mile record (9:27.4) and placed sixth in the 2-mile at the National Junior Olympics.
After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1980 and earning his M.D. from the VCU Medical School in 1984, he moved to Williamsburg, but didn't start competing until 1993.
He quickly showed his talent. In 1993, he topped the field in the Oyster Point 5K (15:54), then set personal records of 33:26 in the Bay Days 10K and the Waterman's 10-Miler (53:38). In 1994, he set another PR by placing second overall at the Anheuser-Busch Colonial 5K in 15:49.
Besides the marathon, Dyer, 73, has excelled at shorter distances. He holds the 45-49 age-group records at two Monument Avenue races, the 5K (16:35) and the 8k (26:38). He also holds numerous CRR age-group records.
Daily Press - January 24, 2017 By Ed Richards email@example.com
|Williamsburg runners Randy Hawthorne and Mark Tompkins were the two additional inductees into the 2015 class of the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame, announced the third and fifth Saturdays of January.
The announcements came first at the Peninsula Track Club awards banquet at the Edgehill Association Clubhouse in Yorktown on Jan. 16, the class will also be honored at the Colonial Road Runners awards banquet Saturday at the Windsor Forest Clubhouse in Williamsburg. This is the 10th inductee class into the Hall of Fame, coordinated jointly by the PTC and the CRR.
For the third consecutive year, a former William and Mary track athlete was inducted. Two years ago it was Ed Moran, who holds the all-time Peninsula road records for the 5K (14:13 at the 2010 Run the D.O.G. Street 5K) and the 8K (23:58 at the 2011 Icelandic Seafood Fest in Newport News), and who ran a 2:11:47 at the 2011 New York City Marathon. Last year it was Fenigsohn, the premier race walker on the Peninsula for the past 50 years, but who was actually inducted this year, as health problems a year ago kept him from accepting his awards at either the PTC or CRR banquets.
Randy Hawthorne is perhaps the most important reason the William and Mary men's and women's cross country and track teams have sustained such a high level of excellence for the past half century, especially in distance running. Tribe athletic directors, coaches and runners come and go, and there have been countless all-Americans, conference championships, and team and individual qualifiers for the NCAA, and Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference championships, but there has been one constant through the years and that's Hawthorne.
As the president of the Spiked Shoe Society (since 1972 for the track alumni and friends booster club), the fundraising arm for track and field, and cross country, for the William and Mary Athletic Educational Foundation, Hawthorne has personally raised over $6 million for the program to support scholarships, coach's salaries, travel and administrative costs through the years.
There are now 48 named scholarships for W&M track, all due to Hawthorne. He published Track Talk, a newsletter about W&M's track teams for 31 years, from 1976 to 2007. For his efforts, he has already been inducted into the William and Mary Athletic Hall of Fame (1989), received the Alumni Service Award from the Society of the Alumni (1999), the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, jointly with his wife Shelby, for volunteerism (2003), a Tribe Club Appreciation Dinner (2005), the Aubrey Mason Sr., volunteer-of-the-year award (2006-07, again jointly with Shelby), and finally, the Alumni Medallion, the highest honor the Alumni Society can award (2007).
The Hawthornes have hosted annually a Christmas party, and a Colonial Relays alumni and coach's party, at their home overlooking Lake Matoaka. They have worked countless cross country and track meets at the college, as well as February's Colonial Half Marathon.
Although Hawthorne emphasizes his inductions into both the W&M Virginia Peninsula Road Racing halls of fame was not due to his running, he is actually a very good runner. He started running in 1957 as a sixth-grader. He was a member of the 1962 Washington-Lee High School team (Arlington) that won the Virginia State 1A Championship in cross country, as well as the Northern Virginia Regional and the W&M Invitational, all his senior year.
On the roads, Hawthorne has run 15 marathons, with three under 2:50, including his PR 2:48:47 at the 1980 New York City Marathon. Training as much as 90 miles per week, and with a lifetime total of 115,000 miles, he ran a 1:18 at the first Colonial Half Marathon in 1979, finished the JFK 50 Miler in 1982, and has broken the 34-minute barrier for the 10K (a PR 33:57).
For the Colonial Road Runners, Hawthorne, professionally an accountant, has been the club treasurer since 1994. He was second in the 60-and-over category for the CRR Grand Prix in 2007. He has won Peninsula Track Club Grand Prix awards the past three years (including first male runner-up in 2013), largely due to points earned from volunteering. At W&M, class of 1967, then track coach Harry Groves took him aside and said he'd help the team more as a manager. Hawthorne accepted, and the rest is history, and the W&M track program will never be the same.
Mark Tompkins, on his running alone, meets the standards for the Hall of Fame, but his contributions to the sport go well beyond that. He has been the cross country and track coach, first at Walsingham Academy, and now at Bruton High School for many years. And in March, 2014 he founded the Greater Williamsburg Distance Running Club, organizing workouts and races for youth runners (40 total).
In running, his road PRs include a 14:58 (5K), 25:04 (8K) and 31:42 (10K), all in 1999. He ran a 55:09 at the 2009 Yorktown Battlefield 10 Miler, and a 1:12:56 at the 2005 Running Crab Half Marathon. On the track his bests include a 3:53 for the 1,500 meters, 4:13 for the mile, 8:29 for 3,000 meters, and 15:05 for 5,000 meters. He competed in cross country and track for the U.S. Naval Academy from 1995-99. After turning 40 last October, he ran a 16:08 at the Southeast Footlocker Championships 5K cross country, winning the Masters competition. He is a three-time men's overall champion of the Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix.
As part of his coaching, Tompkins was race director once for the W&M Homecoming Run 5K (while at Walsingham), then twice for the Queens Lake 5K (while at Bruton), both CRR Grand Prix events. His Bruton runners have won numerous honors, including female Daily Press Athlete of the Year (Carley Shannon in 2012), and three Virginia Gazette Athletes of the Year (Caroline Wilke, Michi Cody and Shannon). He is the meet director for the Big Cat Invite, a cross country meet for 37 teams and 1,200 athletes in October.
Daily Press/VA Gazette- January 27, 2016 | By Rick Platt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Langston Shelton (right)
|A marathon runner who competed at Boston and New York Cty, a runner with wins from his teens to the senior age groups, and a local icon in race-walking are the newest inductees into the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame.
The honorees are Chris Papile, who has competed in 24 marathons; Langston Shelton, a former state high school cross-country champion; and George Fenigsohn, who has been known as the “Race-Walking Guru of the Peninsula.”
The three were honored the past two Saturdays at the Peninsula Track Club and Colonial Road Runners 2014 awards ceremonies.
“Chris is one of those unsung and forgotten runners from the 1980s that the current generation of runners has no idea about how good they really were. And that’s one of the purposes of the Hall of Fame, to recognize these runners for their accomplishments,” said PTC president Rick Platt, who heads the Hall of Fame’s selection committee.
Papile’s journeys landed him in four Boston Marathons and two New York City Marathons, where he gutted out a personal best of 2 hours, 34.49 seconds in only his second year of racing in 1981. Fourteen years later, at age 42, he qualified for the celebrated 100th edition of the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:42 at the Philadelphia Marathon.
The 1972 Ferguson High and 1976 Christopher Newport graduate also excelled in the half-marathon, logging a personal best of 1:12:15 in the Colonial Half in 1984.
During a period of 287 weeks between Jan. 16, 1983, and July 2, 1988, Papile ran 100 miles a week for 258 weeks, with only eight days off.
Papile, 60, is now a judge for the General District Court in Newport News.
Shelton, who led Giles High School to a state cross-country championship in the early 1960s, started to make his mark on the Peninsula as a masters runner in his early-to-mid-40s when he notched PRs of 16:01 for the 5K, 57:57 for the 10-miler and 27:26 for the 8K.
He also had lots of success in his 60s. At age 62, he set the 60-64 age-group record for the Yorktown Victory Run 8-Miler (53:57) and the course record for the Queens Lake 5K for his age group (19:41). Three years later, the Grafton resident broke 65-69 age-group records for the Governor’s Land 5K (21:10) and the Monument Avenue 10K (43:32).
Shelton was thrilled with his Hall of Fame selection, calling it “a great honor and the highlight of my running career.”
Fenigsohn, a Poquoson resident, is the first race-walker to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and for good reasons.
“George has been the premier race-walker on the Peninsula for the past 50 years, starting with his days at William and Mary ... but he has also been selfless in promoting the sport of race-walking to others through the years,” Platt said.
It didn’t take long for Fenigsohn to realize he was made for the sport in his start-up days at W&M in 1967. The next year, he was competing for the Tribe at such places as Madison Square Garden and then at the Pan American Games Trials in the 20K.
Among his PRs in the walk are 26:08 for the 5K, 56:22 for the 10K and 1:56 for the 20K.
For many years, Fenigsohn has been nationally ranked in his age group. Among his top racing treasures are his 56:22 timing in the 10K in the 1999 Penn Relays and placing third in his 50-55 age group at the 2003 National Senior Games in both the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters.
Daily Press - January 28, 2015 | By Ed Richards, email@example.com | 757-247-4645
Ed Moran : Unbeaten in a Peninsula Track Club or Colonial Road Runners race. Mercedes Castillo-D'Amico : State record-holder. And Dick Pierce : Long-distance running wonder.
This amazing trio was honored as the newest members of the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame at the CRR awards banquet Saturday in Williamsburg.
Moran, 32, is the youngest of the 2013 inductees, but the former standout runner and assistant coach at William and Mary has the most distinguished resume.
"Ed Moran is the fastest long distance runner ever to run on the Peninsula," says CRR president and area racing guru Rick Platt .
How's this for amazing? In the 2011 New York City Marathon Moran's first attempt at the 26.2-mile distance he finished as the first American-born runner and 10th overall among more than 29,000 male finishers in a time of 2 hours, 11 minutes and 46 seconds.
Moran, who currently coaches marathon runners for the Pacers Elite Running Team in Washington, D.C., first earned national attention by winning the 5,000-meters race at the 2007 Pan American Games in a record-breaking time of 13:25.60.
In 2008, he finished fourth in the Olympic Trials in the 10K and in 2010 he won the 10,000 meters at the USATF Championship in 28:19.
In local road races, no one has been close to his winning times. For instance, in the 2011 Run the D.O.G. 5K, Moran ran 14:13 an all-time 5K record by a Virginia state resident. He also set a race record at the 2010 Icelandic Seafood Fest 8K (23:58) and ran away from the field in the 2006 Yorktown Freedom Run 5K (14:39). D'Amico, 56, had a dream year in 2013, topped by her Hall of Fame induction and winning the CRR women's Grand Prix title.
"To be selected for the Hall of Fame and win the Grand Prix in the same year is beyond my comprehension," she said.
Among her major accomplishments in 2013 included breaking the state 5K record for women ages 55-59 at the Walsingham 5K in 20:01, setting the state 10K record (42:26) in Richmond, and placing in the top-3 in her age group at the USATF Masters national competition in the Run for the Dream 8K in Williamsburg.
In receiving the Hall of Fame honor, Pierce, 74, said he was "surprised and grateful" to be recognized by his running friends and peers.
The Rescue resident didn't start running competitively until age 40. Since then, he's made his mark. Pierce said all his personal bests were set in 1984 at age 45. They included 17:32 for the 5K at CNU, 27:56 for the 8K in Smithfield, 1:21:16 for the half marathon (Colonial), and 2:51:03 for the marathon (Shamrock).
Among his top accomplishments were winning his 65-69 age group at the Pomoco Half Marathon (1:37:30), going unbeaten in 14 CRR races at age 65, and running and finishing the 2009 Boston Marathon at age 70 in 4:29.
An injury has kept him out of running since 2011 but he hopes to return before long.
Daily Press - January 28, 2014 | By Ed Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org | 757-247-4645
Running didn't mean a lot to Jennifer Quarles when she moved to Williamsburg in 2000. Now, it's a passion.
Ditto Rhonda Venable . And for Bruce Davis , he's got love for scoring races and volunteer work.
So for their dedication, accomplishments, and contributions to the sport, the trio was honored on Saturday night as the most recent inductees into the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame. After taking up residence in Williamsburg and finding a good training group, it didn't take long for Quarles, now 40, to be transformed from a virtual unknown into one of best all-around runners in the state these days.
She can thank her brother, Michael , for getting her interested in running. He ran at Tabb High School; she played field hockey. Now he's an ultra-marathoner and she enjoys distance running the most.
Quarles has won such events as the 2004 Grizzly Marathon (3:26) in Montana, the 2005 Moab Marathon (3:16) in Utah, the Norfolk Half Marathon (1:29) in 2011 and the Achievable Dream Half (1:29) in 2012.
Among her most memorable races was running the Boston Marathon in 3:30 in 2004.
"It was 85 degrees the entire race. I ran easy and had a blast," she said.
The stay-at-home mom can hold her own at just about any distance, ranging from a personal-best 18:12 in the 5K to 2:59:00 in the marathon.
As a member of the Colonial Road Runners, she has won the club's Grand Prix title six times.
Venable, 51, is eager to run just about any kind of race. Among her top memories were completing the Javelina 100-Miler in Arizona in 2011, winning the Mud Run Couples event with her husband Dave in 2008 against 75 other teams, and winning the mixed team title in the Cache Teton Race that started in Logan, Utah, and finished in Jackson Hole, Wy. The five-member team covered a distance of 195 miles in 27 hours and 56 minutes.
Hooked on the sport for more than two decades, she insists she won't stop running "until I die ... there are too many races and places to go before then."
Venable, who coached the Bethel High boys cross country team to a state berth in 2008, is a longtime member of the Peninsula Track Club and a former president of the organization. She also won its Grand Prix championship three consecutive years (1995-97).
Davis, a former runner until sidelined with injuries, is best known for his work as the chief scorekeeper for PTC races. He is also the club's newsletter editor, in charge of the club's Grand Prix, and has won numerous volunteer awards.
By his count, he's scored 442 races and volunteered for 575 events since joining the PTC in 1989.
Among his fondest memories as a runner was competing in two Indy 500 Mini-Marathons in 1990 and 1991 while living in Indianapolis.
As a record keeper, Davis said he's run a total of 196 races his last in 1998. His only win came at the PTC's Predict Your Time 5-Miler in 1996. Davis, 59, admits he misses the actually racing, but said "there is a rush in scoring a race that is just as rewarding as running the race."
Daily Press - January 29, 2013 | By Ed Richards, email@example.com | 757-247-4645
Lori Eady Melle
Lori Eady Melle
Larry Turner never thought he'd beat former Olympian Jeff Galloway in a 10K race. And Joe Harney never thought he'd have a shot at running in the 100th edition of the famed Boston Marathon in 1996.
But dreams do come true, and in more ways than one. The two longtime Peninsula Track Club fixtures are the latest additions to the Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame with former standout runner Lori Eady Melle. The three honorees were recognized at the awards banquets for the PTC Jan. 21 and the Colonial Road Runners Jan. 29.
Turner, now 68 and a Seaford resident, pulled off his feat against Galloway, a 1972 Olympian at 10,000 meters, at the Road Runners Club of America National 10K Championships in Knoxville, Tenn., in 1995.
Turner didn't win the race but finished ahead of Galloway by placing third in his 50-54 age group in a time of "around 40 minutes."
Afterward, Turner got Galloway to autograph a book on running that Galloway had written. The autograph said: "To L.T., who kicked my butt."
Among Turner's other major accomplishments since taking up running about 35 years ago are: placing third in the 1,500 meters in the State Masters Track Meet in 1986 in a personal-best of 4:53; running a 10K PR of 36:29 at the 1985 Elizabeth River Run, and qualifying for the Boston Marathon in 1981.
Turner also has earned numerous honors as a member of the PTC. He was the Grand Prix champion in 1999, won 1st Male GP honors in 1996, 2001, 2002, and 2003, and has been a consistent age-group winner throughout a career that seen him run at least 75,000 miles. He also served as the club's president in 1981 and 1982.
What keeps him running? "Just the fun of being with kindred spirits and competing with friends," he said.
Harney, who at age 73 has never been a medal winner at a race, was honored for his tireless dedication to the sport for more than 20 years. He's been the president of the PTC for so long that he can't remember how long "at least 10 years" is his guess.
And he has no idea how many volunteer hours he's put in at races probably a record number in the past 10 years on the Peninsula. Last year alone, he worked as a volunteer at close to 40 races with the PTC. And if not volunteering with the PTC, he could be seen helping out at a CRR race.
"Joe is a great guy, giving, loving and a fixture in the running community," Turner said.
As for Harney's biggest thrill in the sport, that was running in the 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon. He got in as a lottery pick and reached his goal finishing. He still remembers his time: 7 hours, 1 minute and 35 seconds, and his place, 37,755th.
"It was special because I'm originally from the Boston area and I had family members there cheering me on," he said.
Eady-Melle enjoyed her best performances on the Peninsula in the 80's, including course records for the Semper Paratus 10K in Yorktown. Her best time was 36:24. Among her other victories included the Carter's Grove 8-miler in 1986 in 50:34, the Freedom Fortress 5K, 18:57 in 1988, and Yorktown Victory Run 8-Miler, 51:31 in 1989. She has PRs of 17:26 for the 5K, 36:24 for the 10K, 1:06 for 10 miles, and 1:34 for a half marathon.
"Lori was very fast," said PTC race official Bruce Davis. "Her fastest times came in the mid to late 80s ... and many of her times in the 5K and 10K back then would win 5K and 10K races today."
Daily Press - February 06, 2012 | By Ed Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org | 757-247-4645
Williamsburg's Steve Chantry, a two-time world champion and eight-time national champ, heads this year's selections for the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame.
Williamsburg's Steve Chantry, a two-time world champion and eight-time national champ, heads this year's selections for the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame. The other honorees are Williamsburg's Jim Goggin, a standout runner spanning four decades, and Newport News' John Hort, one of the chief architects in the growth of the Peninsula Track Club and a volunteer national award winner.
The honorees were recognized at the Colonial Road Runners' awards banquet on Sunday in Williamsburg and will be recognized again at Saturday's PTC awards banquet in Hampton.
For Chantry, he's become one of the top masters runners in the world since turning 50 topped by titles in the 1,500 and 3,000-meter races in the 55-59 age group at the 2010 World Masters Indoor Championships March 1-6 in Canada.
"That's been my biggest thrill," Chantry, 55, said on Sunday. "When I was standing at the podium and they played the national anthem, it was really something."
Three weeks later, he was celebrating again this time by winning the USATF Indoor Nationals in the mile and 3,000 by large margins in Boston.
His other national titles all in the 50-54 age group came in the 800, mile, and 3,000 in 2006 and the mile, 3,000, and 5,000 in 2007. His time of 9:23.65 in the 3,000 in 2006 was the fastest in the world that year for his age group.
In 2005 at the USATF Outdoor Nationals in Hawaii, he anchored a world record-setting relay in the 3,200-meter relay in the masters 50 class and in 2008 he anchored the CRR team that set an American club record (9:06.90) in the 3,200-meter relay in the same class.
Another notable feat came in 2005, when he ran 27:02 at the nTelos 8K in Richmond to beat the Masters 50 course record held by Hall of Famer Bill Rodgers.
"Before age 50, I was an average runner. I was not training as consistently. Work and graduate school were taking my primary focus," Chantry said.
In 2010, the CRR member also set state records in the 5K, mile and 1,500 in his first year competing in the 55-59 age group. Goggin, 57, also has excelled as a masters run. His biggest thrill was teaming with Chantry, Rick Samaha and Danny Slickenmeyer on the CRR 3,200-meter relay that set the American club record for the 50-54 division in 2008.
"Our team also repeated the next year," he said.
One of his most memorable races came in finishing fifth at the 1977 Shamrock 5-Miler in 25:20.
"It was four Kenyans and then me," he mused.
Another memorable feat came in 2002 when at age 49 he became the oldest person at the time to win a 5K race on the Peninsula. That was at the Yorktown 5K with a time of 17:41.
Goggin began his running career in the ninth grade in Massachusetts and went on to become an accomplished middle distance runner at Boston College.
Hort is best known for his longtime leadership and tireless volunteer work with the PTC for more than 25 years. He served as president in 1984-85 and starting in 1986 became the executive race director until "retiring" in 2005. He also established the club's Grand Prix Racing Series in 1986.
In 1991, the Road Runners Club of America selected Hort as the winner of its Rod Steele Outstanding Volunteer Award for his hard work operating the PTC, directing races, managing finish lines, certifying race courses and adding community-minded events.
"John wanted to always have an accurate race for runners (both in race course distance and in race timing). He was as concerned about the quality of the race for the 'back-of-the-pack' runners as he was for the elite competitors," said the PTC's Bruce Davis on Saturday.
Hort was instrumental in the growth of the PTC from 100 runners to more than 600 and in establishing several programs to give back to the community. These included a scholarship program, Adopting-A-Family for the Holidays and becoming involved in the Adopt-A-Highway campaign to pick up litter.
As a runner, he competed in 21 marathons, highlighted by his running the Boston Marathon four times, the Marines Corps Marathon twice and the New York City Marathon once.
Hort, 75, retired from the U.S. Army in 1986 and as an active runner in 1994. But in no way has he retired as a volunteer. He's worked in that capacity with the National Park Service for the past 17 years and still keeps busy as a caretaker at the Yorktown National Cemetery.
Daily Press - January 17, 2011
Robert S. White
Left to right: Ed Richards, Robert White, and Barbara Biasi
Robert S. White didn't have a clue about what it took to be a good runner when he first ventured into the sport of running at age 62. But he became a quick learner.
For Barbara Biasi, who didn't start running until age 36, it didn't take her long before she started winning.
Since those beginnings, both have piled up victories at various distances and set a slew of records along the way.
For their achievements, White, now 86, and Biasi, 62, head this year's inductees into the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame. Also selected for the Class of 2009 was Ed Richards, a longtime sportswriter for The Daily Press who has covered road racing for more than 20 years and has written about its top runners extensively.
The selection committee included representatives of both the Colonial Road Runners and the Peninsula Track Club.
The inductees were honored Sunday at the CRR awards banquet in Williamsburg along with the club's 2009 Grand Prix winners.
White, a Hampton resident, got off to a rough start in the sport. When he first started running, White couldn't go any farther than a mile. But soon, one of his sons, Al, found out why after going out for a run with his dad.
"He was running the mile at a wide-open pace," Al said. "He told me he thought you had to run fast to do any good. Anyway, we got him on a reasonable pace and within a few years he was running marathons and winning in his age group."
By age 65, White had set five state age-group records and had carved out impressive personal bests in the 5K (19 minutes, 30 seconds), 10K (40:42), 10-miler (1:08), half marathon (1:33) and marathon (3:07:48).
White set his marathon PR at age 64 while winning his age group at the 1988 Shamrock Marathon. That same year, he also won his age group at the Marine Corps Marathon. At age 72, he ran in the 100th edition of the Boston Marathon.
Now at 86, he's slowed down a little but still is running four miles every other day around his Fox Hill neighborhood. On Thanksgiving Day, he won the 70-and-older age group at the Toys for Tots 5K at the Mariners' Museum 35:08.
"I'm going to keep running until it ain't fun any more, but it's still fun," he said.
Biasi first took up running to keep her husband, Peter, company while he was trying to stay in shape while in the military. She found out she enjoyed it, and since then running has been an important part of her life.
In response to a CRR survey in 2008, the Yorktown resident estimated that she had run more than 45,000 miles in 25 years.
Her lifetime PRs - all coming between the ages of 40 and 45 - are 20:20 for the 5K, 34:36 for the 8K, 43:46 for the 10K, 1:11:22 for 10 miles, 1:38:52 for the half marathon, and 3:48:33 for the marathon, which qualified her for Boston.
She has held various age-group records with the CRR and PTC, including the Yorktown Victory Run 8-Miler and Williamsburg Winery 5K. Currently, Biasi holds the 60-64 record for the Mariners' Museum 10K, 53:44; and the 60-and-older record for the Hilton 5K, 25:40. Having coached for 20 years and her longtime involvement with the PTC also played a major role in her selection. Biasi has coached cross-country teams at Peninsula Catholic and Bruton High School and served as president of the PTC from 1988-90.
The Yorktown resident didn't run a heavy slate of races this past year but plans to keep running as long as she can.
"It's kept me fairly healthy and it's a great stress-reliever," she said.
Richards is the first non-runner to be selected to the Hall. The inaugural class in 2006 included the late Michael Mann, John Piggott, and Joan Coven. The 2007 honorees were Rick Platt, Valerie Plyler and Tom Ray, and the Class of 2008 included Lew Faxon, Rob Hinkle and Andrew Polansky.
Daily Press - January 12, 2010
Lew Faxon, one of the top masters runners on the national and international levels in the 1980s, led the third class of inductees for the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame during Dec. 14 ceremonies in Williamsburg.
Other inductees were two of the Colonial Road Runners' top record-breakers, Andy Polansky of Williamsburg and Rob Hinkle of Yorktown. All were honored at the annual CRR awards banquet. Faxon, a longtime Hampton resident now living in Lanexa, enjoyed success on the national and international levels. At the World Masters, he won silver and bronze medals in Puerto Rico in 1983 and gold and bronze in Italy in 1985.
Faxon, 69 and no longer running, also won national masters titles 10 years in a row in everything from the 800 meters to the 25-kilometer. On the Peninsula, he was a five-time Masters winner of the Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon.
Faxon was elated with his Hall selection, saying, "The highest honor anybody can get is from your peers."
Hinkle, 44, held 21 CRR race age-group records going into 2008. He still owns two all-time CRR age-group marks for the 5K - 15 minutes, 20 seconds for the 30-34 class and 15:55 for the 40-44 group. He also holds course records for the Heritage Humane Society 5K at First Colony (15:20), Stonehouse 5K (15:33), Hilton 5K (15:29) and Noland Trail 10K (35:06).
Hinkle gave up competitive racing this year and doesn't plan on a comeback.
"I probably run four or five days a week. I just don't race anymore," he said. "Basically, my foot bothers me if I race."
Polansky, who has run everything from a 5K to a marathon, holds 17 CRR all-time age-group records. During his career, he also set state records in the 70-74 age group for the 10K (45:07), 5K (21:54) and a 10-miler (1:15:15).
"I was thrilled and honored," Polansky, 81, said of his induction. "I don't hardly run anymore. I had a hip transplant in February."
He still has one goal to go - to run in his 90s.
December 23, 2008 | By Ed Richards, email@example.com 247-4645
Tom Ray, a former Hampton resident who now commutes to area road races from Kitty Hawk, N.C., has more than made up for lost time since first competing as a runner at age 55.
Since then Ray, now 74, has run in 43 marathons, become a state and club record-holder at varying distances, and has been a dominant force in moving up the age-group ladder. For those accomplishments, Ray was one of three honorees inducted into the Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame at the Colonial Road Runners awards banquet Dec. 9 in Williamsburg.
Other longtime running standouts enshrined were Rick Platt of Williamsburg and Valerie Plyler of Yorktown.
The Hall of Fame was established last year by the CRR and Peninsula Track Club. Its first class included John Piggott and Joan Coven, both of Williamsburg, and Michael Mann of Hampton, who died in September.
At the recent banquet, the CRR also honored its 2007 Grand Prix series champions. Both were first-time GP winners: Adam Canning of Williamsburg for the men and Laura Shannon of Williamsburg for the women.
Ray didn't get an early start in running because his high school didn't have a track team, but he excelled in other sports, receiving all-state honors in football.
Since diving into competitive running, Ray has carved out numerous records.
He currently holds state records for the 65-69 age group for the 5K (20:16) and the 10-miler for the 70-74 division (1:13:55). He also has held 26 CRR age-group records from the 60-64 to 70-74 age groups.
Ray, who started running when his body started giving out in his favorite sport, basketball, vividly remembers his first race - an 8-miler from Newport News Park to Yorktown.
"I hit the wall at six miles but did finish," he said Monday.
His marathon resume includes the Boston Marathon six times. His first crack at the grueling race came in 1987 at the Marine Corps Marathon, which he labels "a lesson in humility."
"I thought I could run it in 3 hours and 30 minutes; it took me one hour longer than that," he said.
Platt, president of the CRR since 1994 and a former president of the PTC, has especially excelled as a masters runner (ages 40-and-over). He set state 5K records for the 45-49 age group (16:14) and 50-54 class (16:51) plus 10K marks for 50-54 division (34:51) and 55-59 group (35:31).
On an age-graded basis, Platt, 57, currently holds the No. 2 time in the nation this year for the half marathon (1:18:32) for men age 55-59 while he has the third and fourth-best times in the 10K (35:20 and 35:31). "Without a doubt he's been the most influential person on the Peninsula when it comes to running and he's been a great leader for the Colonial Road Runners. His running accomplishments are up there with the very, very best," said CRR member Jim Bates.
Plyler, 48, didn't start competitive running until age 22, but since then has probably won more CRR and PTC races than any female. She competed in the Boston Marathon in 1994 and has run at all distances from the marathon to the 5K.
Plyler, second overall in the CRR Grand Prix last year, currently holds 14 CRR records. All but one of those have come in the 45-49 age group.
Daily Press - December 18, 2007 By Ed Richards, firstname.lastname@example.org 247-4645
Michael Mann, John Piggott and Joan Coven are the first runners selected for a local road racing Hall of Fame.
Three elite Peninsula runners attended the Colonial Road Runners awards banquet on Dec. 10, thinking they were there to honor a colleague or two. And that did happen at the Williamsburg event, as the 2006 CRR Grand Prix men's and women champions were announced. But something greater was in store for Michael Mann, John Piggott and Joan Coven. In a surprise to the honorees, the three were announced as the first inductees into the new Virginia Peninsula Road Racing Hall of Fame.
The Hall is a joint effort of the Colonial Road Runners and the Peninsula Track Club, with CRR president Rick Platt as the driving force. Its wall will be housed at The Runner's Source, a new running store in Hilton Village in Newport News.
Mann, in a battle for his life with lung cancer since June 2005, was in "utter amazement" when his name was called out.
"I thought they were going to honor Rick Platt; he's done more for running in the area than anyone," Mann said Sunday. "The Hall is not something I ever expected people to have around here. But it's good for the runners."
Mann, one of the top runners on the Peninsula and state for the past 10 years, won the CRR Grand Prix from 2002-04 and was making a strong bid for another title halfway through this year until the need to undergo more cancer treatments halted his run.
An Air Force veteran of 19 years, Mann is best known as a distance runner. In 1996, he was the top Virginia finisher in the Marine Corps Marathon that included more than 17,000 competitors. In 2003, he placed fourth overall in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach in a personal best of 2:28:28, and in 2004 he won the Mulberry Island Half Marathon in 1:10:47 at Fort Eustis.
Mann, 38, also has been a tough competitor at shorter distances, with numerous 5K wins. He also won the Hampton Bay Days 10K in 1999.
But Mann hasn't been driven by winning race after race.
"My main drive is just competing," he said.
Piggott, 41, was told before the CRR ceremonies that something special was going to happen there and not to miss it.
"I thought they were going to have something special for Michael Mann to help keep his spirits going; he's such a great runner," Piggott said.
Piggott also has been a special runner for more than 10 years. He won the CRR Grand Prix title in four of its first five years of existence, starting in 1995. Over the years, he's developed into a marathon man. In his first attempt, he finished second in the Richmond Marathon in 1999, and this year ran 12 of the 26.2-mile races, finishing as the No. 1 master in nearly all of them.
Piggott, a 1983 Lafayette High School graduate and currently a track and cross country coach at his alma mater, also has excelled at the Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. He has finished as the top Hampton Roads finisher three times and as the top master the last two years.
Coven, 65, has come a long way in the past 13 years in a sport that began when she got a new dog and started taking him out for runs. Since that time, she's set more CRR age-group records than anyone.
In the Governor's Land 5K, she ran 23:18 to better her own CRR 65-69 age-group record and also beat the state record by almost two minutes. In March, she ran away with the women's 60-64 age-group title in the Shamrock 8K, winning by more than six minutes in 37:34.80.
"It's pretty exciting," she said about being among the first in the Hall. "It's quite an honor to be in such great company."
Daily Press - December 19, 2006 | By Ed Richards, email@example.com | 247-4645