The 10-day weather forecast promised a perfect race day… and then talk turned to rain. For the first time in recent memory, volunteers had to wear rain jackets at the Women’s Half Marathon, though the tree cover somewhat protected the starting field of 216 women. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the expected rain didn’t materialize until two hours into the race and lasted just a few minutes before the sky truly opened up around noon. The slick conditions on the course contributed to more injuries than we’ve seen in a while, with multiple contenders for the VHTRC’s informal “best blood” award.
Course record holder Martha Nelson won the 2014 event in 1:36:29, beating out Justine Morrison’s second-place finish of 1:40:21. Although Justine stuck to Martha’s tail throughout the race, Martha widened her lead by a minute during the second half. Third-place finisher Sydney Sumner clocked in at 1:49:36 and shared a second-place win in the mother-daughter team competition with her mom, Susan Sumner. Robin Watkins did the club proud with her first VHTRC finish, an award that recognizes the best time among club members who don’t finish in the top three positions. Robin ran it in with friend Liana “the bachelorette” Heiten, who came in sixth overall and used the race to celebrate a last hurrah with her girlfriends before her marriage to club member to Jon Loewus-Deitch. All the best, Liana and JLD!
Anne and Rhea Weaver won the mother-daughter competition with a combined time of 4:25:38, shared in spirit by Anne’s two other daughters, Sarah and Erin, who finished the race together. Congratulations, Weavers! Team competition veterans Lenore and Celia Studt took third with a combined time of 5:06:16. Ten teams were formed for the 2014 event – the most ever – and all the mothers and daughters finished the race.
One hundred ninety-four women completed the course, enjoying the VHTRC’s legendary aid station hospitality. The sombrero-rocking volunteers at Wolf Run Shoals once again transformed a field into Juanita’s Cantina, upping the food and beverage ante to give runners a final push back to the finish. Chefs Mario and Tom mixed up amazing smoothies at the finish line, and the men of the club warbled through another rendition of “Happy Trails” to send everyone off at the start. Women who picked up a silly costume at an aid station and ran back to the finish received chocolate truffles in return, and the cheeseburger hat gained in fame.
As always, the volunteer support at the race was unparalleled, with a helper-to-runner ratio of about 1:3. A huge thanks to our army of amazing volunteers!