Festival of Leaves 5K
Warren Heritage Society
Sat. 13 October 2007
Front Royal, VA

Results Age Groups Race Report Past Results

2007Race Report
  Start of the 2007 Festival of Leaves 5K: Julie Vetal, Brandon Vanetten, Laura Andersen, Josef Aramayo, Brad Sponaugle, Damaris Martinez, Jim Shaughnessy, Jim Madonna, Rhys Franck, Neal Riemenschneider, Jim Grumblatt, Guy Incognito, Tobias O'Reilly, Michael Hofbauer, Brian Delaney, Dylan Scarton, others
Start of the 2007 Festival of Leaves 5K
The Festival of Leaves 5K returned from the dead in 2007-- and it couldn't have picked a better day to do it! The sky over Front Royal, Virginia was sunny and bright on the morning of Saturday 13 October, and the 50° temperature was perfect for running. But how many runners would show up at the old Warren County High School on Luray Avenue to enjoy the beautiful fall weather?

At its peak in 2003, the 5K saw 54 participants. But as the years went on, race founder Patrick Farris found himself increasingly busy with his job as executive director of the Warren Heritage Society, leaving him without enough time to devote to the race. A mere six runners took part in the rainy 2005 event, and Farris reluctantly decided to let the 5K die in 2006. But a single local runner who had regretted missing the '05 race showed up at the school on 14 October 2006 expecting a race to be held, and Farris took this as a sign that the Festival of Leaves 5K should continue! Farris recruited past 5K volunteer Karsten Brown to take the reins in 2007, and the 8th annual 5K was set for 13 October.

Just five runners preregistered, however, and it looked like the race was going to be a small one, even by Warren County standards. But as Brown pulled up to the school steps on race morning to start setting up the
Dylan Scarton, third male overall
Ben McIvor, fourth male overall
Osbourn High School's Dylan Scarton and Ben McIvor
registration tables, he found the Osbourn High School cross-country team waiting there! The youngsters from Manassas, Virginia had been unable to get to a meet that morning and had come to run the Festival of Leaves 5K instead. Soon more runners started arriving. By the time 8:30 AM rolled around, a total of 66 people had shown up to participate in the 5K or the noncompetitive 1 mile fun run/walk-- a record turnout!

After half-listening to Brown's long-winded pre-race instructions, the field of 5Kers darted out of the school entrance and down Luray Avenue. Osbourn's Dylan Scarton and Ben McIvor, both 17, zoomed into the lead, trailed closely by 27-year-old Brad Sponaugle of Martinsburg, West Virginia. McIvor was the first to fade and Sponaugle moved into second place, but Scarton stayed strong out in front-- despite the fact that he'd forgotten to take off his cross-country spikes before the race.

By the 3K mark, however, the rolling hills (or the spikes) were taking a toll on Scarton, and a mysterious runner going by the name of Guy Incognito-- who may or may not have been a race organizer concerned about making sure none of the lead runners went off course-- had accidentally caught everybody and found himself in front. The remaining hills only cemented Incognito's lead, and, feeling a bit embarrassed, he strode across the finish line first in 18:18. Sponaugle, not quite in peak shape for the fall, placed second in 18:32, and Scarton and McIvor took third and fourth in 18:41 and 18:47 respectively.

  Megan Scarton, first female overall   Laura Andersen, second female overall
  Megan Scarton and Laura Anderson, the top two female finishers
The Osbourn team also figured prominently among the 5K race's seventeen female participants. 15-year-old Megan Scarton and 16-year-old Laura Andersen managed to smoke the competition, with Scarton taking the top prize in 23:20 and Anderson finishing just nine seconds later. Third among the ladies went to 37-year-old Carter Wiecking of nearby Fort Valley, VA in 23:55. The top local female was Warren County High School freshman Tiffany Hatcher in 24:02, edging out 34-year-old Dawn Stann (24:05) and W.C.H.S. junior Amanda Potts (24:08).

All told, the 5K saw a total of 58 finishers, including runners from as far away as Wildwood, Missouri (David Wood) and Fairbanks, Alaska (69-year-old Jim Madonna). Between the Osbourn cross-country team and a smattering of local families, there were quite a few kids and young adults taking part, which led organizers to split the advertised 14 & under age group into separate 9 & under and 10-14 age groups. The youngest participant was 6-year-old Joan O'Reilly, who completed the 5K in 33:22. 72-year-old Bob Gurtler, who injured his hamstring early in the race, stubbornly kept on going and
Neal Riemenschneider leads Josef Aramayo, Rhys Franck, Alexander Stewart, and Duane Williamson
Neal Riemenschneider leads a group of runners to the finish
was this year's oldest finisher. 51-year-old Colleen Snyder was the 5K's oldest female participant-- although 67-year-old Patti Palmer did the 1 mile fun run. And worth noting is 53-year-old local legend Neal Riemenschneider and his 20:16 finish, a new event record for the men's 50-54 age group and the only age group record broken at this year's race. (Neal also measured the course for the first edition of the Festival of Leaves 5K way back in 2000-- and he won the 2001 race outright!)

Well deserving of praise are the race's handful of volunteers, including the experienced and dependable finish line crew of Terry Leckie, Alexander Snyder, and Nancy Bullock; finish card hander-outer Patty Hawe; card collector & sorter Duane Williamson; registration volunteers Colleen Snyder and Bullock; invaluable course marshal Paul Grosz; handyman Bob Gurtler; and one or two spectators (whose names we don't have) who pitched in at the last minute when other volunteers failed to show up. Special thanks are owed to the Front Royal Police Department and Warren County Public Schools for their assistance. (Our apologies about the parade congestion in the vicinity of the school after the race; we'll take steps next year to make it easier to get out of there, perhaps with an earlier start time and/or a relocation to another site.)

And thank you to everyone who participated! Despite its extremely low-budget nature, the race still managed to earn $158.65 for the Warren Heritage Society. But the race isn't really a fundraiser; if it were, there'd be higher entry fees and corporate sponsors. No, the race has always been held simply to bring people out to Front Royal for a fun running experience. Hopefully more folks will come to Front Royal on Saturday 11 October 2008 for the ninth running of the Festival of Leaves 5K!

Jim Grumblatt, Kevin Grumblatt, both of Richmond, VA
Jim & Kevin Grumblatt
  Liam O'Reilly, Carter Wiecking
Liam O'Reilly & Carter Wiecking
  Terry Tibbs, Fred Franklin
Terry Tibbs & Fred Franklin
  Joan O'Reilly
6-year-old Joan O'Reilly!

Results Age Groups Race Report Past Results

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