Fifteen years ago today I lined up with my Cruiser friends to run the 9th Annual LAWS Run For Shelter Half Marathon in Leesburg, Virginia. Proceeds from the race went to help support the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS), a shelter that has been in place for thirty-four years serving the needs of Loudoun County. LAWS provides emergency sanctuary and other services to both children and adults who are victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Once Bill and I got to the fairgrounds on race morning, we were able to pick up our race packets relatively easily due to the small size of the race – less than 500 runners. We found our friends and enjoyed hanging out as we waited for the race to begin.
Six Cruisers ran the race; however, it was Bob, Terri, and I who usually stuck together on these races that we treated as training runs. We ran long together on most weekends, even when we weren’t in the midst of a marathon training cycle, and longer races like this provided the occasional fun diversion to our weekly Saturday morning date.
The race started and ended at the Loudoun County Fairground on the western side of Leesburg. Leaving the fairground, we ran on a combination of the W&OD Trail, country roads – both paved and gravel – through Paeonian Springs and into Purcellville before turning to make the scenic trek back to Leesburg. The course took us along the rolling hills of beautiful Loudoun County and even treated us to some steeper than expected hills, and to add insult to injury, some of those evil hills were on gravel. It was on one of those infamous hills that Bob said, “I’m never running this race again.”
Bob and I finished the 2003 Laws Half Marathon together with a time of 1:58:30 (9:02 pace) which placed me 5th out of 13 in my 45-49 age group and 249th out of 480 finishers. This late September race served as a great mid-distance training run before my final long run as I prepared to run three marathons over the course of four weeks starting in mid-October. On a side note, all three marathons went great and I BQ’d at all three – those were the days when running a marathon was just another race and no big deal.
Terri and our other Cruiser friends were just a couple of minutes behind Bob and me, and Terri thinks this was the race where she slipped on the gravel and slid down the hill. Bill finished in 1:51:46 (8:31 pace) and returned in 2004 to improve upon his course time by running a 1:48:43 (8:18 pace).
As we crossed the finish line we were given a finishers medal, which at that time, wasn’t the standard for races shorter than marathons.
After the race, we hung out with the Cruisers and milled around looking for other running friends. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw our friends Vojtech and Gerda because we had no idea Vojtech had started running longer distances and was training for a marathon.
Unfortunately, the race ended after its running in 2011. It was a well run local race with proceeds going to a very good cause. I’m sorry that the race ended after seventeen years, and I’m sure LAWS is even more sad to see it go…
- Did you ever run the LAWS Run For Shelter Half Marathon?
- Do you prefer out-and-back, loop, or point-to-point race courses?
- Are you aware of any local races that you hated to see get canceled?