The Story of the Virginia 10 Miler; How to create, and revive, a great race, October 24, 2013
When I first ran the Virginia 10 Miler, in 1980, it was one of the great races. The world's best runners headed an international and local field of more than two thousand, in times that still haven't been surpassed. And the race was only six years old. That's how suddenly and spectacularly the running boom happened in America.
As the years passed, the 10 Miler seemed to be declining. By 2005, it was a routine local race, struggling to find 500 runners. But then it got back on the pace. It was a multiple pleasure for me to be invited to help celebrate the fortieth running on September 28, and find the race back in booming good health, as the Genworth Virginia 10 Miler. Its story is one with a lot of morals, about the present and future of running, as well as the 40-year past.
Before 1970, the biggest road races had fields of one or two hundred. We squeezed through traffic, and were marshalled and hand-timed by four or five weather-proof officials. By the time I first came to race in America in 1980, I discovered truly a new world - colorful, exciting, well-staged, talent-stacked road races, with fields, spectator support, sponsorship, media coverage, and post-race celebrations all on a scale beyond my dreams. Balloons, music, good food, and trophies at the finish instead of stale tea in a dusty hall? I was hooked.