By Susannah McNear
Special to the Rappahannock News
Spring is well underfoot in Rappahannock and April is off to the races. As the sound of hooves fade to the distance, it’s time for the two-leggeds to lace up and challenge themselves on the Fodderstack Road. Saturday April 22nd will be the 39th running of the annual Fodderstack 10k Classic and just for fun we are turning it up a notch.
Finish line festivities this year will include music by Gold Top County Ramblers, food by Savory Smoke and SoBo Food Truck, and a beer garden by Hopkins Ordinary. After last year’s cold rain we’ve special ordered a splendid spring day to celebrate the runners.
Many local runners, myself included, started right here and found their wings on this road and your kids can too. This year — once more — we celebrate RCHS standout Gavin Jenkins. While winning this hometown race last year may seem the least of his accomplishments (Virginia 1A State Champion XC, breaking three longstanding RCHS track records, 3 x Junior Olympic XC All-American), it’s one he’s worked long and hard for. Gavin beat his older rival Karson Brown from Front Royal with an impressive time of 35:51.
Gavin started running the Fodderstack when he was nine years old and graduates this year with an impressive scholarship to run for VMI. Gavin is fantastic proof that when talent is met with hard work, big things are possible. Gavin’s scholarship award comes one year after teammate Julia Wood signed with a scholarship to run for William and Mary.
Think that’s a tough act to follow, well not for the young ladies of Rappahannock. Skylar Culbertson won the ladies race last year with a personal best of 45:05. Skylar, who first ran the race with her family at 4 years old, lead the Lady Panther cross-country team back to States last November as a freshman. She is one of the youngest female overall winners to date.
Skylar and Gavin will both be racing to defend both their overall titles, as well as the coveted Eva Smith Memorial trophy. Gavin and Skylar were chased last year by teammates who filled the age group placings last spring: Sam Barnes, Camryn Clark, Lily Jenkins, and Savannah Hensley.
While the young talent shined through that cold rain last year, many anonymous souls came to run a tougher race, the race against themselves. Year after year, this road is a terrific measure of one’s vim and vigor. Several local runners have already signed up: Kelly Clement, Ethan Berry, Jimmy Deal, Steph Ridder, and Lily Jenkins. The Culbertson family has made this a tradition, and the Gillis family is returning from Minnesota to conquer some hills with us. Bring your children — this is a beginning for many.
Heidi Maeyer is running with colleagues from the JMU Student Occupational Therapy Association to raise funds for Therapeutic Adventures this year. They are accepting donations of any amount and will have a table at the finish; stop by and learn about the adaptive sports programs they offer for people of all ages and disabilities. Therapeutic Adventures is an educational organization based in Charlottesville and is a 501c3. Donations can also be mailed to Heidi: PO Box 297, Sperryville, Va., 22740
A springtime tradition for many, the Fodderstack takes runners and walkers on a rolling journey through the historic hills and valleys between the towns of Flint Hill and Little Washington. Whether you’re looking for a serious race against other proven runners, or simply challenging yourself for a morning — the Fodderstack 10K is sure to leave and impression. If you haven’t done it before, this is your year — you’re not getting any younger! Walk it, run it, do it with your kids. Put a little money in your pocket, there’s good times to be had at the finish line.
Race note: The Fodderstack 10k begins at 9 a.m. at the north end of Flint Hill on Route 522 at the Packing Shed and ends at the Courthouse in Washington, via the Fodderstack Road. Parking is available either in Washington or Flint Hill. Bus service will be provided from Washington to the starting point of the race throughout the morning. The bus will leave promptly at 7:15 a.m., again at 7:45 and at 8:20 a.m. from the front of the Courthouse on Gay Street in Washington.
If parking in Flint Hill, a bus will take runners back to Flint Hill after the race as well as after the awards ceremony. Race day registration will take place at the Flint Hill Volunteer Fire Dept., Rt. 641 on Fodderstack Road, where participants can also park. Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. There is a half-mile walk/jog from the registration area to the start of the race. Please allow enough time to register and meet the 9 a.m. starting gun. Registration will be available until 8:45 a.m. More information is available on Facebook and at www.fodderstack10k.com