2016 Monument Avenue 10k Registration Now Open

monument-runIt’s amazing to think that the Monument Avenue 10k has been around for going on 17 years. If the race is a must for your yearly running calendar, today is a good day: Registration is open for the 2016 event, named one of the country’s top 10 running races by USA Today. And for today only, registrants can save $3 by using the special Cyber Monday promo code ITSHERE on any 10k registration. The offer is valid until 11:59pm for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k, Virginia 529 Kids Run, and YMCA 10k Training Team.

The 10k will utilize block registration and youth pricing for the first time, with the opening block taking the first 7,500 entries. Starting December 1, the rate will be $30 for adults and $20 for youth under the age of 14. Overall registration will also be capped at 30,000.

All participants who complete the 10k will again receive a custom event medal to recognize their accomplishment of finishing the race.

Registration is also open for the Virginia 529 Kids Run and the YMCA 10k Training Team, a 10-week program designed to prepare runners and walkers alike for the Monument Avenue 10k. The YMCA 10k Training Team kicks off on January 30 at 18 locations in the Richmond area, with a $55 fee during the first block. Registration includes entry into the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k.

Once the first 7,500 spots have been claimed, registration will re-open at a later date with a $35 fee for adults and $25 fee for youth under the age of 14, along with a $60 fee for the YMCA 10k Training Team. The Virginia 529 Kids Run entry fee is $15 through January 31, 2016, and rises to $20 on February 1.

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Va. Capital Trail: ‘It’s a Place to Exhale’

I spent a good part of yesterday morning on an old school bus, chugging down Route 5 next to the brand spanking new Virginia Capital Trail. I was part of a media contingent brought together by Beth Weisbrod, head of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, to see the finished product and ask questions of those along the way who have a vested interest in its success.

We started at Great Shiplock Park in Richmond, stopped at Rocketts Landing, then went out to Ronnie’s Barbecue in Varina and on to Henrico County’s new trailhead just past I-295 at Four Mile Creek Park. Weisbrod and VCTF board chair Charlie Donato led the way, giving us the history of the trail and telling us about the series of parties that will take place this coming Saturday up and down the trail’s length to commemorate its completion. We met Rocketts residents who are already seeing the quality of life benefits and a Stone Brewing spokesperson who told us how excited Stone is to have the trail so close to its East Coast operations. We met Ronnie and Darrell Logan, of Ronnie’s BBQ, who have seen an uptick in traffic since moving to their location right on the trail in Varina in May (“It’s a place to exhale,” said Ronnie). And we met Henrico Co. officials who spoke about the linkages the trail provides between communities and the future plans they have for the path.

It’s was an interesting morning, but what I really wanted was to get on the trail with my own two wheels. So later yesterday afternoon, despite the impending rain, I hopped on the mountain bike with a friend, Dave Salley, and we pointed our wheels in the direction of the trail. It started raining around Brown’s Island and by the time we reached the trail’s beginning at the Floodwall across from Bottom’s Up Pizza, we were soaked.

But it was also nice. We had this gorgeous ribbon of freshly paved asphalt all to ourselves. We rode to Ronnie’s before turning around, a round trip of about 12 miles. (Then we rode up Libby Hill, 23rd St. and Governor’s St. because…you know.) There’s just something about looking down a path like that and thinking, “If I felt like it, I could ride all the way to Jamestown.”

After 10 years and $74 million, the Virginia Capital Trail is finally here, Richmond, and let me say, it is awesome. I know the weather looks horrendous, but there’s an official ribbon cutting at Great Shiplock Park on Friday (the governor will keynote) and a big old party the following day. Click here for those details. If riding in the rain isn’t your thing, I get it. But whenever this rain breaks, get out there and check out the trail. Like those bike races that just left town, it’ll make you excited to see what we can accomplish when we really want to.

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Two spring running races offer interesting twists

You’re going to run where?

Two new half marathons in central Virginia this spring feature some unique places to run through: a NASCAR race track and a cemetery.

Race 13.1 Richmond

RIR is set to trade race cars for runners on May 9. Credit: Wikipedia

RIR is set to trade race cars for runners on May 9. Credit: Wikipedia

No other running event in the Richmond area gives you the opportunity that Race 13.1 is putting in front of area runners on May 9. Not even within their own series of races scattered throughout the South East by this group out of North Carolina can you find a course like this. I’m talking about Richmond International Raceway — the track itself. It’s the marquee feature of one of Richmond’s newest running events, and you don’t even have to be an endurance runner to to get your chance at tromping the same path as some of the best drivers in the world.

The event will feature three distances — a half-marathon, a 10k and a 5k — and each distance takes runners around the D-shaped track in Henrico’s east end. Granted, as any NASCAR fan can tell you, that only accounts for ¾ of a mile of each course. But that’s O.K., because it turns out that there’s enough land in the parking lots to fit a 5k and a 10k course, with the half-marathon doing an out-and-back on Azalea Avenue to account for the rest.

Petersburg Half Marathon

Union Station is one of dozens of historic buildings featured in the new Petersburg Half Marathon, being held on April 18.

Union Station is one of dozens of historic buildings featured in the new Petersburg Half Marathon, being held on April 18.

Endurance running in the Tri-Cities makes its debut on April 18, when Petersburg hosts a half marathon. Like the Race 13.1 Richmond event, this one has a interesting slant. With a course that features a national park, a cemetery and a bunch of guys running around in pre-1800 garb pretending to fight for a nation’s independence, there’s no question that this half marathon offers a few things that others don’t.

After starting in Petersburg’s Old Towne, the course makes its way out to the city’s eastern edge and enters the Petersburg National Battlefield, following along Seige Road from one end of the park to the other. Shortly after runners exit the national park, they turn into the historic Blandford Cemetery and run a mile through Civil War headstones and around Blandford Church, itself a tribute to the Confederate lives lost during the war.

So the Civil War features prominently in the first half of the race. But the second half of the course takes runners even further back in history, all the way to the 1770s. An official Revolutionary War battle reenactment will take place at mile 10, put on by The Battersea Foundation.

The event also features a 5k and a kid’s run through Petersburg’s Old Towne. More information can be found at www.runpetersburg.com.

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Richmond 2015, Sports Backers Unveil ‘Conquer the Cobbles’

This looks really cool.

As the top cyclists in the world compete at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, Virginians and visitors from all over the globe will get their chance to tackle the same climbs and cobblestones that make up the championship course during two unique, public participation events.

Richmond 2015, the organizing committee of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, and the Sports Backers, announced today that they are partnering to produce “Conquer the Cobbles,” a pair of evening public participation events taking place in conjunction with September’s world championships. The events include a running race and bike ride that will give participants a chance to experience the same Road Circuit Course that will be contested by competitors from more than 70 countries.

Riders climb the famous Libby Hill cobblestones. Credit: Richmond.com

Riders climb the famous Libby Hill cobblestones. Credit: Richmond.com

On Thursday, Sept. 24 beginning at 7 p.m., participants can enjoy a 10-mile running race that showcases the history and beauty of Monument Avenue as well as the challenging climbs of Libby Hill and 23rd Street. The following night, Sept. 25 beginning at 7 p.m., cyclists will get their crack at the championship circuit that awaits the best riders in the world. The riding event is limited to 2,015 entrants. Both events will provide participants with the safety of a completely closed course, live announcers and a festival atmosphere.

The Elite Women and Elite Men will compete for World Championships on the Road Circuit Course on Sept. 26 and 27, respectively.

“Imagine getting the chance to play Augusta the day before The Masters or Centre Court during Wimbledon’s fortnight,” said Tim Miller, chief operating officer of Richmond 2015. “This truly is a unique opportunity for riders and runners to test themselves on the same course that will challenge the world’s best cyclists.”

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Monument Ave 10K registration now open

The 2015 Monument Avenue 10K will be the 16th running of what has become Richmond’s largest participatory sports event. Every year around 40,000 people toe the line to run or walk the 6.2 miles out and back along RVA’s most famous stretch of road, and 2015 probably won’t be any different. This morning at 12 a.m., the Sports Backers began accepting online entries for the March 28, 2015 event. New in 2015, everyone who completes the 10k will receive a medal to recognize the accomplishment.

Registration is also open for the Virginia 529 Kids Run and the YMCA 10k Training Team, a 10-week program designed to prepare runners and walkers alike for the 10k. The YMCA 10k Training Team kicks off on January 17 at 18 locations in the Richmond area.

“The 10k is one of the Richmond area’s best annual traditions,” said Lisa Randolph, race director. “It’s a great celebration of an active lifestyle and brings together families and friends for an exciting community event.”

The 2015 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k presented by MARTIN’S will accept the first 40,000 entries. The registration fee is $30, and the Virginia 529 Kids Run entry fee is $15 through December 31. Registration for the YMCA 10k Training Team program is $55 through January 17 and includes entry in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k on March 28. Anyone wishing to mail in their registration for either event may download an entry form at www.sportsbackers.org.

10k Corporate Fitness Faceoff

The 2015 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k will mark the first year of the 10k Corporate Fitness Faceoff, which promotes healthy lifestyles, team building, and community and corporate engagement for area businesses. The 10k Corporate Fitness Faceoff offers a variety of new opportunities for all registered companies that include customized 10k shirts, VIP tent access, and chartered bus transportation from your office to the race. Businesses from all over the Richmond region will field teams of employees that will compete for the highest percentage of participation, and entry is open to all companies of 10 or more employees.

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A weekend of Folk, and outdoor opportunities, too

With the Richmond Folk Festival set to go off tomorrow evening, it looks like most area race organizers decided to avoid scheduling events on this weekend.

Don't forget when you're at the Richmond Folk Festival that this is out there calling your name. Credit: Phil Riggan

Don’t forget when you’re at the Richmond Folk Festival that this is out there calling your name. Credit: Phil Riggan

But that’s not entirely true: If you’re itching for a Saturday morning burn, you could head out to Innsbrook Pavilion in Glen Allen where the 8th annual Step Up for Down Syndrome 5K and Family Festival will begin at 8:30 a.m. Chip timing is available, and take note ultra competitive types: The top 3 overall male and female winners will receive $100, $75 & $50 gift cards, respectively, from Road Runner running Store! All age group winners will receive $25 gift cards. Most importantly, all proceeds benefit the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond.

For those seeking family fun, here’s a cool option. Maymont is putting on their first Family Campout: Spooky Spectacular. Parents and kids ages four and up can “meet some spooky creatures as we celebrate “Owl”-oween! Take a lantern-lit hike as the moon rises, make s’mores, and enjoy stories around the campfire. In the morning, enjoy a continental breakfast and another hike.” Online registration has closed, so call Maymont (804-358-7166, ext. 324) to register.

And while we might be missing an outdoors event or two in the RO calendar, it looks to be a light weekend. But that could be a good thing. The weather should be nice. The river will be warm still and the trails dry. Some friends of ours from Colorado are coming back to Richmond for a visit. They lived here for years, and every time they come back they rave about the outdoor options we have. We’ve talked about heading down to Pocahontas SP to bike, or maybe doing a big loop hike around the James via the downtown trails. We’ll probably ride our bikes, almost entirely off road from the Nickel Bridge area to the Folk Fest at least once day. In other words, it’ll be a classic RVA weekend.

Get out there and enjoy!

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The city that runs: Richmond full, half marathons set new entry records

The popularity of the Monument Avenue 10K was probably all the evidence we needed, but now there’s more to show what a huge — and growing — region of runners Central Virginia is.


Credit: adamotstot.com

The Sports Backers announced yesterday that the Anthem Richmond Marathon and American Family Fitness Half Marathon have both set new entry records, shattering last year’s numbers with more than five weeks to go until race day on November 15th.

As of the end of the day Monday, October 6th, the marathon had 6,179 registered participants, surpassing the 2013 record of 6,103. The half marathon had 9,266 entries, ahead of last year’s final record tally of 9,118.

When you add in the HCA Virginia 8k, more than 17,800 runners and walkers are currently registered to participate on November 15th.

Combined event entries are on track to easily surpass last year’s record of 19,629 by race day. With 9,266 runners and walkers already registered, the American Family Fitness Half Marathon is on pace to reach its 10,000-person limit well before race day. As soon as this happens, registration will close and no additional entries will be accepted.

Year       Marathon     Half Marathon 
2014         6,179*               9,266*
2013         6,103                 9,118
2012         6,003                8,215
2011          4,922                7,493
2010         4,952                6,605
2009         5,188                5,572
2008         4,316                4,619

*as of Monday, October 6th

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‘Tour of Richmond,’ bass legend Mike Iaconelli highlight the weekend preview

This time of year, sometimes I look at the calendar and wonder how much sleep Sports Backers employees get.

The Tour of Richmond returns for the third year this weekend. Credit: Sports Backers

The Tour of Richmond returns for the third year this weekend. Credit: Sports Backers

Back in late August, the group helped put on the growing Patrick Henry Half-Marathon in Ashland. Then last Friday and Saturday the Maymont X-Country Festival offered local runners a 5K on the Maymont grounds and an 8-miler on the trails of the James River Park System. This Saturday the 3rd annual Martin’s Tour of Richmond — bike rides of 101, 78, 59 and 29 miles around the Richmond region — rolls into Richmond International Raceway. Online registration is closed, but you can still do walk-up registration at RIR on Saturday morning at RIR if you want to participate.

At the close of online registration yesterday, a total of 1,150 riders were signed up, breaking the previous record of 1,105 riders in 2013. The event kicks off with the pre-ride party on October 3rd at the Richmond Raceway Complex from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with food and beer for sale, along with live music, vendors, and sponsors. Registered riders also will be able to pick up their participant packets for Saturday’s ride at the party.

But it’s not just a good weekend for bike riders. On Saturday morning, road runners have their pick of two local 5Ks: the 5K Eagle Challenge in Bon Air and the Mustangs 5K in Midlothian. And on Sunday trail runners will head out to Bear Creek Lake State Park 45 minutes west of Chesterfield County for the mostly flat but challenging Cumberland Multi-Use Trail Half-Marathon.

Bass fishing great Mike Iaconelli will meet the public at Green Top on Sunday afternoon.

Bass fishing great Mike Iaconelli will meet the public at Green Top on Sunday afternoon.

With the weather starting to slowly turn to fall, area anglers are heading out to our many waterways to catch fish moving into their fall patterns. But for those who won’t be on the water on Sunday afternoon, here’s a great Plan B: Bass angling legend Mike Iaconelli will be at Green Top on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. signing autographs and chatting with the public. This is a really cool chance to pick the brain of a former Bassmaster Classic champion and B.A.S.S. angler of the year. Very cool stuff.


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Central Va. greenway will surprise with its location, beauty

I’m walking along the paved pathway taking in my surroundings. Water lazily flows by as birds, bugs and other animals float in and out of the surrounding woods, creating the backdrop of outdoor music that I love. Well-constructed bridges get me from Point A to Point B, and as I walk, I point my camera here and there and shoot off a few frames. A couple of women running on the trail pass me and see the camera, telling me there’s an owl just off the trail ahead that I may want to add to my portfolio. I never find the owl, but I continue along, taking in everything the trail has to offer.
The newst segment of the Appomattox River Greenway is open in Colonial Heights along the Appomattox River. Photo by: Rick Chittick

The newst segment of the Appomattox River Greenway is open in Colonial Heights along the Appomattox River. Photo by: Rick Chittick

So the question is, where was I experiencing all of this one afternoon last week?

Was I on Brown’s Island walking along the James? No.

Was I on the Virginia Capital Trail between the Floodwall and Great Shiplock Park, mixing in the hum of cars along Dock Street into the soundtrack? No.

Was I rounding the corner to go up the hill to the Nature Center at Maymont Park? No.

I was in Colonial Heights.

What? A paved outdoor trail through the woods in the land of the cucumber tree? Yes. It’s really there, and I was stunned one day driving across the I-95 bridge over the Appomattox River and saw the ribbon of asphalt coming through the woods. So I went exploring — several times. There was the paved path, but there was also more. It has scenic overlooks. It has boat landings for kayaks, canoes and larger craft. Walking, running, hiking, cycling, kayaking, yoga, stand-up paddle boarding — if it’s part of Riverrock, the Sports Backer’s annual party on the James, it can now be done on the Appomattox too. Except maybe you’d replace the mountain biking with fishing.

Appropriately, it’s called the Colonial Heights Appomattox River Trail System (CHARTS), though it is also commonly referred to as the Appomattox River Greenway. And it’s probably one of the best things to ever happen to Colonial Heights.

I know because I grew up in Colonial Heights. And perhaps it was my own short attention span as a teenager, but back in the late 1980s it seemed the only sidewalks in town were the ones connecting the high school to what was then known as the vocational center. But then came my college days at JMU and a longish stint out West, with time spent in Colorado and Washington State. Those are places that know how to put together some bike paths.

Work continues on a spur trail that will allow people to hike up to an old railroad bridge and take in views of the Appomattox River. Credit: Rick Chittick

Work continues on a spur trail that will allow people to hike up to an old railroad bridge and take in views of the Appomattox River. Credit: Rick Chittick

And to say the least, CHARTS is not without its quirks. One part of the trail gives you a view of the Petersburg wastewater treatment plant, while another section parallels a junk yard. But it’s not my intention to belittle what Colonial Heights has here. The sleepy little suburb of Fort Lee is surrounded on three sides by classic, lazy, southeast flatwater. Most of it is in the form of the Appomattox River, which hangs a left around the southeast corner of town and then meets up with Swift Creek, which forms much of the northern border. Put this all together and you have an outdoor paradise — one that CHARTS is starting to open up to people.

The trail is being built in phases. The first phase opened in 2009 and included improvements throughout Roslyn Landing Park and a short section of trail west out of the park. A small pavilion was added in 2012 to memorialize one of the trails pioneers, Harry B. Hargis, Jr., who passed away that year. The second phase pushes westward to the I-95 bridge over the Appomattox, and the third phase, which opened over the summer, extends the trail to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Bridge. The fourth and final phase, when finished, will connect the trail to Appamatuck Park west of the Boulevard on Archer Avenue, and will include many park upgrades, as well.

Once the trail is fully connected to the King Bridge, it will also link up nicely to the Lower Appomattox River Trail which runs along the south bank of the river through Dinwiddie and Petersburg. Planners have also gone so far as to include an old railroad right-of-way, with a spur trail that leads to where the railroad used to cross the river, complete with signage to help people understand the way the railroad affected the course of the Civil War in the region. As of last week, that spur wasn’t yet finished, but work is clearly progressing.

The trail is certainly a welcome addition to the outdoor recreation scene in central Virginia. It has been quickly adopted by runners and walkers in the area, and no doubt, cyclists will follow once the proper connections at Appamatuck Park are complete.

To find out more, visit www.colonialheightstrails.org

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Weekend Preview: Camp with the kids, run Broad Street, do a crazy-long triathlon (or just watch)

It’s Wednesday afternoon. That means the weekend is on the horizon, and as I mentioned last week, every Wednesday afternoon this fall you can check back here for a preview of what’s coming up between now and Sunday.

Who wouldn't want to take the kids camping here? Credit: Tim Thompson

Who wouldn’t want to take the kids camping here? Credit: Tim Thompson

Before we even get to the weekend, there’s plenty going on. Take tonight: If you’ve followed the journey of the Terrain360/RichmondOutside mapping boat down the James this summer, come out to The Camel tonight and see the finished product. The James River Association is sponsoring a happy hour event as part of their Amazing Raise efforts. Ryan Abrahamsen and I will be on hand to tell stories from the summer’s adventure and show off what the one-of-a-kind tour will look like when we release it on Terrain360.com later this month. That’s tonight at 5 p.m. at The Camel, and it’s free.

Also on short notice: today is the last day to register for Maymont’s Family Camp Out. They’re calling this one “Creatures of the James,” and not only do you get to camp out with your kids at Maymont, but there’ll be a guided hike through the estate in search of native nocturnal creatures, and you can meet a few of Maymont’s own animal ambassadors. Afterwards, you’ll make s’mores and enjoy stories around the campfire. There’s even a Continental Breakfast and another hike the next day. (Ages 4 and older; one adult must register for every four children.)

If you haven’t seen some version of the advertising blitz for the VCU Broad Street Mile, well, you must have been out of town the past six weeks. On Saturday the mile/5K/fun run/festival kicks off at 10 a.m. between Belvidere and Hermitage on Broad Street. As the website says, “Broad Street will be transformed into two areas, a running course and festival. The running course will feature the VCU 5K to kick-off the event, and five themed one-mile races that start at 20 minute intervals. The free festival will feature live music, food trucks, local vendors, kids activities and a new RVA Sports Zone featuring the Richmond Flying Squirrels and other local professional sports teams. Sounds like a cool block party even if you’re not a runner.

Rodney the Ram will definitely be in attendance at the VCU Broad Street Mile.

Rodney the Ram will definitely be in attendance at the VCU Broad Street Mile.

If you are a runner, however, you could hit the VCU Broad Street Mile and still have time to lace them up at the Virginia Farm Bureau’s Stampede 5K at West Creek Parkway. There’s a kids run first at 4 p.m., then a manually timed 5K immediately following. After that the party begins, with food vendors, a farmer’s market, Center of the Universe Beer and agriculture-themed activities for kids.

Finally, on Sunday, there’s an event that if you haven’t trained for by now, you probably shouldn’t participate in. Or maybe you’re just that beastly of an athlete and you can do a half-iron-distance triathlon (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) off the couch. If so, or if you want to see some of the region’s top endurance athletes battle it out over a cool urban course, come out to Rocketts Landing for the Richmond Rox Olympic Distance and Endurance Half Iron Triathlons.


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