By Jeff Nations
You might notice a bit of a relieved smile on Rosie Schiavone's face this morning near the start line for the annual Apple Blossom Valley Health 10K.
Schiavone, now in her 14th year as race director for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival's staple event, knows all too well that the hard part always comes on Friday when she and other race organizers herd a multitude of young runners -- and often, their parents -- from start to finish for the Kids Bloomin' Mile.
After that, the 10K is a snap.
"It's chaotic, but it's fun," Schiavone said of today's race, which likely will attract approximately 1,500 runners. "After you get through Friday with the kids and all the parents, Saturday's good."
The weather should be good, too, which likely will bring out a few impulse entries. Schiavone said that through Wednesday, 1,070 runners had pre-registered for Saturday's 10K. Among that group were at least 17 elite-level runners, although defending champion Deres Deniboba of New York City wasn't among them. Schiavone said he and other top runners may well wait until race day to register, a common practice for the 10K. The U.S.A. Track & Field certified race offers $8,300 in prizes spread among the top five male and female finishers, overall masters winner and runner-up, and the grand masters winner.
One solid contender for the women's race has already signed up to run. Claire Hallissey, based in Washington D.C., ran in the 2012 Summer Olympics for Great Britain, finishing 57th.
Standout Masters division runner John Piggott of Williamsburg was also pre-registered, joining a group of solid runners that included Josh Simpson of Morgantown, W.Va., and Ricky Flynn of Lynchburg. And as always, Schiavone expects to see most of the Shenandoah Valley's top runners like Kevin Shirk and Brenda Schrank back for another run through Winchester.
"Our numbers have been pretty stable," Schiavone said of participation. "We've gone up a little bit and I'm looking for it to be a little higher this year just because the running community has really grown in this area."
Those who do tackle this year's 10K can expect no changes from last year's course. The race starts and ends in front of the grandstands along Handley Blvd., with much of the racing taking place along Valley Ave. Schiavone said the last course change came three years ago, when the start/finish line was moved to accommodate more runners. That same year, the course took runners all the way down Washington St., before taking a right onto Fairfax Lane, then a left onto Braddock St. Schiavone said the current course layout has been working well.
Schiavone is expecting ideal conditions for today's race, a welcome contrast to last year's unseasonably hot and humid weather. Race time is 8:30 a..m.
"It should be perfect weather," Schavione said. "It's supposed to be 45 in the morning and then in the 50s by race time. It should be perfect."
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org>