After the 2001 race was marred by the lead runners going off course, the third annual Festival of Leaves 5K went off without a hitch! Thirty-six runners, twenty of whom were SVR members, showed up at Warren County High School on the cloudy morning of October 12th, enjoying cool fall temperatures (but perhaps not the lingering humidity).
Among the female competitors, this was the year of the Masters runner at the Festival of Leaves 5K, with all the top four women (along with sixth place finisher Carol O'Leary) being over the age of 40! 2000 women's champion & course record holder Ruth Riemenschneider was back in relatively decent shape this year, and she parlayed her fitness level into another overall win. The 45-year-old could not quite approach her 20:27 course record, but she went unchallenged for her second Festival of Leaves 5K victory in 21:57. Lorie Weimar, 41, and Kathy Manzo, 47, reached the finish line a little under two minutes later,
Ruth Riemenschneider (at the Apple Trample 5K a week later)
with Lorie running an impressive 23:36 to beat her training buddy by nine seconds. Veterinarian Mary Ellen Hutchins, 48, took fourth in 24:26 and was the top local finisher, having travelled just three miles to get to the race.
Mike Tanner (after the 2000 race)
The other 2000 Festival of Leaves overall winner also returned this year to grab another overall title! 27-year-old Mike Tanner of Strasburg sped through the rolling course in 17:13 for an easy win. Winchester's Mark Vann ran and walked his way to his second runner-up placement in a row with a time of 17:51 (although Mark probably would've won the 2001 race if he hadn't gone off course). 47-year-old Neal Riemenschneider, husband of Ruth and last year's overall winner, took third
in 19:27, well ahead of 2001 third place finisher Jason Page (20:04 this year) and top local finisher Karsten Brown (20:21).
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Patrick Farris (left) before the 2001 race
Race director Patrick Farris distributed his usual assortment of random prizes at the awards ceremony (Halloween candy, pumpkins, bars of soap, etc.), and the age group award winners were eventually mailed certificates. Many thanks to Patrick for his usual fine efforts, and thank you as well to volunteers Terry Leckie, Karsten Brown, Thomas Walker, Jenny Thomas, Collin Waters, Melissa Henson, Maria Castellano & Steve, Eric Wood, and the single-named Kate & Melissa! Special thanks to the Front Royal Police Department for blocking off a lane for us on busy South Royal Avenue.
Hope we'll see y'all again at the fourth annual Festival of Leaves 5K on Saturday 11 October 2003!