BY NEAL RIEMENSCHNEIDER
FRONT ROYAL, VA--After a hiatus of some 13 years, the Festival of Leaves race was once again a fall racing event. Held in conjunction with the local festival, the race used to be a 10K but, as is the norm these days, was switched to a 5K.
The certified 5K course was a loop affair starting and ending at Warren County High School. Patrick Farris, a social studies teacher at the school, revised the race and served as race director. How's this for irony: The first place male and female and the second and third place men finishers were all educators. Additionally, the fourth place male is an ex-teacher and the last finisher's daughter is also an educator. You just can't get away from educators!
Mike Tanner, a 25-year-old fourth-grade teacher at Ressie Jeffries (a local elementary school), took the win uncontested in 16:48. "This was a really good course and you had to really work the hills," stated the Strasburg resident. "I just tried to hold even splits and run as hard as I could." Finishing second, over a minute back, was Stonebridge high cross-country coach Sam Shipp. And finishing another minute later was this author who is a special education teacher in Frederick County, VA.
In the women's race, second-grade teacher Ruth Riemenschneider also ran uncontested, finishing in a time of 20:23. "My legs are still a bit stiff from the Great Allegheny Run (held the previous Saturday) so I was a bit tentative on the hills," explained the woman who often bears the burden of my put downs. Shenandoah Valley Runners Club President Kim Weisgerber took second (21:43) while Heather Kremer sewed up third by running 21:58.
There were 40 finishers with Bob Atkins (75) and Katie Farrell (8) being the oldest and youngest, respectively, on this October 14 race. Numerous random prizes were given out to everyone who stuck around. When my name was called Ruth made it clear I was not going up there and choose something worthless so she choose for me (you married guys out there will understand the "Deferring to the Mrs. Syndrome"). I would have picked out a bag of Milky Way bars but Ruth felt we needed something more practical so she choose an array of Indian corn for our display in the front yard. Ruth passing on chocolate was a major surprise for me but I have found it usually best just to be quiet and say, "How nice."
1. Mike Tanner 16:48
1. Ruth Riemenschneider 20:27