The Virginia 10 Miler is considered one of the toughest 10 miler races in the U.S. Held on the hilly streets of Lynchburg, the Virginia 10 Miler brings out top runners from around the world and a well-rounded field of local runners. The 42nd running of the Virginia 10 Miler took place on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015.
The rainy weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the runners. In fact, many runners welcomed the cool rain. In addition to the 10 Miler, Saturday’s events included the Virginia 4 Miler and the Virginia 4-Mile Walk.
Virginia 10 Miler Winners
Although no records were broken, 16 runners completed the course in under an hour. Kenyan native Kimutai Cheruiyot won the race with a time of 48:58, followed by Elkanah Kibet at 49:06 and John Wanjiku at 49:36. Susan Jerotich took first place for the women and 12th place overall with a time of 56:12, followed by teammates Zipporah Chebet at 57:08 and Valentine Kibet at 58:46.
A pair of local runners took top awards in the Masters division. Jeff Harrington won the Mens Masters division with a time of 59:11 while Sarah Davidson was the top female in the Masters division at 1:11:09. Grand Masters winners were Hernan Garbini at 1:04:53 for the men and Robin Steckley at 1:17:38 for the women. In the Senior Grand Masters division, Dave Gearhart took top honors for the men at 1:11:33 and Amy Rockhill won for the women at 1:35:49.
Virginia 4 Miler Winners
Former Rustburg High School and VMI track standout Donnie Cowart took top honors for the men with a time of 19:51, followed by Josh Stewart at 21:28 and Gurmessa Mergassa at 21:46. E.C. Glass running sensation Libby Davidson finished in first place for the women with a time of 23:19, followed by Ann Mazur with 24:41 and Brooke Manion at 26:30.
James O’Connell won the Mens Masters division with a time of 26:36 and Shelley Stephens won for the women with a time of 35:28. In the Grand Masters division, Tim Laughlin took top place for the men with a time of 28:56 and Debra Price won the women’s division at 34:48.
You’ll find results for all events, including the Virginia 4-Mile Walk and Amazing Mile Children’s Run, at the Virginia 10 Miler website.
Virginia 10 Miler History
The first Virginia 10 Miler took place in 1974 with 188 participants, put on by the fledgling Lynchburg Road Runners Club, founded in 1973. This year, more than 1,300 runners finished the Virginia 10 Miler, more than 1,200 finished the Virginia 4 Miler and more than 600 completed the Virginia 4-Mile Walk.
Like the Virginia 10 Miler, the Lynchburg Road Runners Club has grown over the years and is open to runners of all ages and abilities. Race Director Jeff Fedorko worked tirelessly to ensure the quality of the iconic event, with help from more than 1,500 volunteers.
One runner was noticeably missing from this year’s 10 Miler. 87-year-old Bill Draper, the only participant to have run all 41 previous Virginia 10 Milers, is recovering from a recent stroke.
The Virginia 10 Miler welcomed founder of Girls on the Run Molly Barker as this year’s special guest. While in Lynchburg, Barker shared her story at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, encouraged young runners at the Amazing Mile Children’s Run, announced at the 10 Miler and officiated at the awards ceremony.
Girls on the Run is an empowering program that serves over 200,000 girls and women each year, inspiring them to be joyful, healthy and confident. Barker, a four-time Hawaiian Ironman Triathlete, serves as a strong role model for runners of all ages.
Runner Stories from Runner-Friendly Lynchburg
The Lynchburg running community is friendly and encouraging. Lynchburg was designated a Runner Friendly Community by the Road Runners Club of America in 2011 and named Outstanding Runner Friendly Community by the club in 2012.
Every runner has a story to tell. Some runners overcome serious injuries or traumatic life events to compete in the sport they love. Others run to honor the memory of loved ones, to improve their health or just because they love running.
The Virginia 10 Miler took place just two weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks in 2011. That year and every year since, local runner and Vietnam veteran Steve Bozeman has led the Running Color Guard in the Virginia 10 Miler. Carrying the American flag, Bozeman crossed the finish line at this year’s event hand-in-hand with the youngest Running Color Guard participant, 7-year-old Natalee Powers. Bozeman is also the founder of the Support the Troops Rally, held at noon every Friday at Lynchburg’s Monument Terrace.
In September 2014, two weeks before the Virginia 10 Miler, Army Major Michael Donahue was killed in an enemy attack while serving in Afghanistan. Maj. Donahue, who was an assistant professor at Liberty University before he was deployed, was also an avid runner. The Running Color Guard added the 82nd Airborne flag in memory of Maj. Donahue for the 2014 Virginia 10 Miler and number 82 on their race bibs, traditions that continued in this year’s 10 Miler. Local runner Grattan Garbee, one of Donahue’s friends, volunteered this year to carry a flag with the Running Color Guard instead of competing for a personal record.
Local running icon Felix Lopez loves to run. In addition to local events, Lopez travels to running events on a regular basis. The Virginia 10 Miler is the 36th race of 2015 for Lopez, who claimed third place in his age group at the event. Like many runners around the world, Lopez was deeply moved by the story of Richmond mom and avid runner Meg Menzies, who was tragically struck and killed by a drunk driver while training for the Boston Marathon on Jan. 13, 2014.
With the help of other Lynchburg Road Runner club members, Lopez organized an annual memorial Meg’s Run in Lynchburg. He also provides a Meg’s Miles banner to use at running events and shares Meg’s story with runners he meets. Lopez dedicates many of his runs to Meg’s memory, including this year’s Virginia 10 Miler. As he crossed the finish line, Lopez held Meg’s bib in front of him. The Meg’s Miles Supporters community on Facebook numbers more than 17,000 members around the world, most drawing strength and encouragement from the model set by a woman they didn’t know in life.
North Carolinian Eddie Eldridge was the youngest runner to complete the Virginia 10 Miler as a 7-year-old in 1980. Fast forward to 2015 as Eldridge returned to Lynchburg to run the Virginia 10 Miler with his wife and two sons, Ethan and Dustin. Eldridge and his wife finished with a time of 1:34:05, 14-year-old Dustin’s time was 1:18:07 and 17-year-old Ethan led the family at 1:11:22.
Lynchburg runner Lesley McPhatter grew up with running in her blood. Her dad Frank McPhatter, an avid runner who competed in the first 30 Virginia 10 Milers and numerous marathons, had a favorite saying: ‘Finish what you start.’ Lesley began running to keep up with her dad and three siblings and, like many runners, was bitten by the running bug. Since her dad’s death in May 2013, Lesley, her siblings and other family and friends have run the Virginia 10 Miler as part of Team Frank. Lesley was one of many runners to cross the finish line wearing a singlet bearing Frank McPhatter’s image, his motto and “Frank’s Legacy” — living up to the legacy McPhatter left behind.
Lynchburg runners all know Susan Coalson loves to run. Susan and her husband Keith are longtime Lynchburg Road Runner club members. To warm up for the Virginia 10 Miler last year, the Coalsons and friend Janet Vickers ran the course 41 times including race day in honor of Draper’s 41st Virginia 10 Miler. To prepare for the 2015 10 Miler, they added an additional course run for a total of 42 10-mile runs including the big event. But many of Susan’s fellow runners didn’t know she sings as beautifully as she runs. Susan opened the Virginia 10 Miler by singing the National Anthem, then crushed it with a PR of 1:38:08 on her 83rd run on the course over the past 23 months.
United Athletics Lynchburg pairs local athletes with individuals who require physical assistance to participate in running, swimming, biking and triathlon races. Six assisted athlete teams participated in the 10 Miler and 4 Miler events including Team Aaron, powered by long distance running powerhouse Mike Mitchell, and Team Sophie, powered by Lynchburg City Schools educator Amanda Myers-Ramirez and her husband Brian Myers.
If you missed this year’s Virginia 10 Miler, plan ahead for the 2016 event, which will be held on Sept. 24, 2016. You can learn more about the history of the Virginia 10 Miler in this year’s race guide.
The finish line of the 2015 Virginia 10 Miler was filled with personal stories of triumph. Couples and groups of friends crossed the finish line holding hands and many runners pushed extra hard to gain a few seconds, fist-pumping the air as they crossed the line.
Runners of all ages and abilities competed to honor the memory of a loved one, to challenge themselves to reach higher, run faster, strive for a new PR; and just to finish the journey they started.