Festival of Leaves 5K
Warren Heritage Society Shenandoah Valley Runners
Sat. 11 October 2003
Front Royal, VA

Results Age Groups Race Report Past Results

2003Race Report
 Start of the 5K
Austin Cote, Josh Wilson, & Brendan Oudekerk (center) dart out into the lead as the 5K starts
Saturday 11 October 2003 turned out to be a dreary morning in Front Royal, with light fog hanging over the town, temperatures struggling to reach 60°... and blood-thirsty gnats laying in wait. But icky weather didn't stop fifty-nine runners and walkers from showing up at Warren County High School for the fourth running of the Festival of Leaves 5K & 1 Mile Family Fun Run/Walk!

The record turnout was buoyed by newcomers; only seventeen of the 5Kers had run any of the three previous editions of the race. Eight of this year's 5K newbies were SVR members. Three live well outside
The Frederick County Middle School cross-country crew
The Frederick County Middle School crew! Top row: Brendan Oudekerk, Austin Cote, Josh Wilson, Coach Hamaker, Claire McLellan, Sarah Carpenter, Nic Lizer, Coach Stumpf, Roy DeSchon. Bottom row: Molly Oudekerk, Crystal Printz, Adie Weimer, David Pugh, John Stevens, Jon Sands, Andrew Lloyd.
of the region-- Steve Dyer of San Diego, California; Fred Nelson of Plymouth, Michigan; and Alison Tripp of Summerhill, Pennsylvania. But the big story was this year's youth movement! In all previous runnings of the Festival of Leaves 5K, only ten finishes were by runners under the age of twenty. This year, however, over a third of the 5K finishers-- twenty-one out of fifty-four-- were under twenty! These youngsters included a few area high schoolers, but the majority of 'em were Frederick County Middle School students, brought down from the Winchester area by cross-country coaches Johanna Stumpf and Joe Hamaker.

Yes, many folks were raring to go... and race director Patrick Farris eventually managed to track down someone who could open the school's bathrooms. Shortly thereafter, everyone was ready to run the race! Your author handled most of the pre-race instructions for the 5K, telling runners about the police presence along South Royal Avenue, and warning them about the construction zone on Kerfoot Avenue through which everyone would have to run. Farris thanked the Front Royal Police Department for their help, and then he let the 5K runners loose!

 Men's winner Mark Vann
Which is Mark Vann and which is the Halloween mask?

Josh Wilson (c) and Austin Cote (l)
Josh Wilson (left) & Austin Cote (center) break down their performances
Always a bridesmaid and never a bride at this race, 37-year-old Mark Vann of Winchester was ready to crown himself "King Leaf" this year after placing second at both the 2001 and 2002 races. His odds looked pretty good, since 2001 winner Neal Riemenschneider was off watching his daughter at a cross-country meet, and two-time Festival of Leaves champ Mike Tanner would not be running (although Tanner, Warren County High School's cross-country coach, was spotted on the premises that morning!). Only Mary Washington College senior and former SVR member Ryan Bayne would be able to give Vann a run for his money. Bayne, however, made the mistake of letting Vann open up a gap of five or ten seconds on him.
Steve Dyer of San Diego, CA
San Diego's Steve Dyer
And although Vann was said to have walked a few steps in the later stages of the race, he jerked his head back continuously to make sure that Bayne would not be able to make up ground. Rule number one when racing against Vann: Don't concede him the lead!

Sure enough, Vann clung to his lead and earned his made-up title of "King Leaf" ("or maybe 'Queen Latifah'," joked occasional training partner Terry Leckie) in a time of eighteen minutes flat, with Bayne crossing the finish line ten seconds later. 14-year-old Josh Wilson, clad in a Frederick County Middle School Trojans singlet, looked impressive in third place, pulling away from a group of fellow teenagers to finish in 18:55. Warren County High School senior Bobby Watson (19:31) outdueled Liberty High School freshman Mike Balogh (19:35) and FCMS's Austin Cote (19:45) for fourth, and was the top local finisher. Had there been a special Masters award, it would've gone to 49-year-old Steve Dyer of San Diego, who crossed the line fourteen seconds ahead of Winchester's Chris Northrup with a time of 20:38.

Jon Sands tries to stay ahead of his coach, Johanna Stumpf
Johanna Stumpf (right) gains ground on Jon Sands
 Female runner-up Claire McLellan
Claire McLellan

Top local finisher Mary Fortney
Mary Fortney
On the women's side, Frederick County Middle School coach Johanna Stumpf, 25, sped out with FCMS student Claire McLellan, 13, at her side. McLellan eventually fell off the pace a bit, leaving Stumpf with the overall win in 22:24 (finishing just behind another of her coachees, 11-year-old Jon Sands). McLellan kept working and took second place easily in 23:19. 19-year-old Geneva College (PA) student Alison Tripp showed that tennis isn't the only sport she can play, getting ahead of local up-and-comer Angie Page to nab a solid 24:05 third place finish. Page, in turn, edged out Sterling's Kyra Brown (25:21) for first place in the 30-34 age group with a 24:27 performance. Mary Fortney (26:13) outran fellow 39-year-old Cheryl Harrison (26:46) as the top local finisher. There was only one Masters runner among the eighteen female finishers: Colleen Snyder of nearby Linden, VA (35:10).

Meanwhile, six or seven other folks participated in the "one mile" family fun run/walk, including registrants Molly Oudekerk, Leesa Anderson, and Barbara, Colin, & Zak Maxwell. The fun run heads down Luray Avenue to the river and back, and it's thought to be closer to 1.3 miles or so. Facing a long course and an uphill second half, a few folks turned back early. But it's hoped that they all had a nice run or walk!

Crystal Printz and Sarah Carpenter
Crystal Printz tries to ignore the fact that Sarah Carpenter is wearing a witch hat
Although all the award winners would be mailed certificates, Farris acknowledged each of their performances at the post-race gathering. We apologize for making a couple of results tabulation mistakes after the race; the online results have been corrected! A number of runners were then picked at random to claim a prize, with the prizes including pumpkins, a board game, candy, and a few other Halloween-related items. All the while, runners swiped their arms furiously at the air, fending off the swarms of gnats which sometimes seem to plague the high school area. (Your author lives a couple miles away but never sees so many gnats flying around at his home.) Mental note for next year: Bring bug spray!

 A police officer chats with race director Patrick Farris
Don't worry, Patrick Farris (right) is in no danger of getting arrested!
Mr. Farris would like to offer thanks to the Front Royal Police Department, along with volunteers Terry Leckie, Jason Page, Karsten Brown, and Warren County High School student Muhammed K. Naseem. (Farris told of asking Naseem if they had running races like this back in his native Kashmir; Naseem said that when people have to walk ten miles just to get anywhere, they generally don't run for recreational purposes!) Special thanks to the school and to the Warren Heritage Society for their assistance. And, needless to say, thank you to everybody who participated! Mr. Farris will be back directing the Greasy-Gooney 10K on Saturday 25 October 2003 in southern Warren County. And if all goes well, the Festival of Leaves 5K should return for its fifth running on Saturday 9 October 2004. Hope we'll see y'all there!

Erin Dusick and Harriette Bayse
Erin Dusick gets passed by Harriette Bayse on the final uphill
  Mark and Tucker Obenshain
Mark Obenshain may be running for the state senate, but here he's getting outrun by daughter Tucker!
  J.J. Alcott and Roy DeSchon swat at gnats
J.J. Alcott and Roy DeSchon try to keep gnats from feasting on their faces during the awards ceremony

Results Age Groups Race Report Past Results

The Festival of Leaves 5K Web pages are maintained by Karsten Brown.