From 9 to 80: Nearly 2,000 women just did it
A total of 1,809 women runners took to the road– Garth Road, to be precise– on Saturday morning, to compete in the Women's Four-Miler.
They lined up in speed categories, from paces of six-minute to 16-minute-plus miles. At 8am sharp, a dense column of female bodies, seemingly endless yet cheerful and orderly, streamed east from the Foxfield entrance, ran (or walked) a mile, then circled back and ran two miles in the other direction, then returned to the Foxfield finish line. Hundreds of spectators all along the track– more men with strollers than could be counted– lined the two-mile course, cheering them on.
The three top runners came from outside Charlottesville. Fastest was 26-year-old Cynthia Campbell-Spangler of Lexington, who ran the four miles in 23 minutes and 48 seconds, besting by nearly a minute 39-year-old Susan Molloy from Glen Allen, who runs year after year and won the race two years in a row, in 1993 and 1994. Third-place went to Roxann Polo-Reasor, 39, of Blacksburg.
Charlottesville's Andrea Wright, 43, came in fourth with a time of 25:37. Women were still coming into the finish line 45 minutes later, as walkers brought up the rear with times over one hour. Of the top four, only Campbell-Spangler was a newcomer to the annual benefit run, the largest all-women running event in the Commonwealth.
All race proceeds go to the UVA Breast Cancer Program, and race director Cynthia Lorenzoni announced that this year's tally topped $40,000. Along the roadside of the race's fourth mile, called the "Motivational Mile," banners proclaimed the names of cancer victims or survivors to whom runners were dedicating their efforts. Many runners teamed up in honor of women they knew.
The "Women of Wolftrap," for example– who all ride horses at Wolftrap Farm in Esmont– wore shirts that read "In Memory of Ruth"– Ruth O'Connell, a fellow rider who died of cancer in July.
Women came from as far away as Washington and Philadelphia to enter the race. Susan Black flew in from San Francisco, fulfilling a plan she and her sister, Charlottesville resident Mary Beck, had made in June to run the race together. UVA's entire women's crew team participated, decked out in orange t-shirts and placing well.
Prizes went out by age groups. The ages best represented were 40-44 and 45-49. The oldest runner, Mildred Counts, 80, of Falls Church, was the lone contestant in the 80+ age group. So many youngsters entered this year that race officials created a new category, 10 and under. Charlottesville 9- and 10-year-olds swept that category, with Sachi Ragosta winning in 33:39.