Colonial Williamsburg is a town-turned-museum that recreates Williamsburg, Virginia, as it was in the 18th century when it was the colony’s capital. Founded by billionaire industrialist and ardent colonial revivalist John D. Rockefeller, it opened in 1934. It’s now the largest living museum in the world, with 500 recreated or renovated buildings on a 300 acre campus, with hundreds of costumed interpreters.
For the past seven years, I’ve wanted to run a 5k in Colonial Williamsburg called Run the DoG. DoG stands for Duke of Glouchester Street, which is the main drag down the center of Colonial Williamsburg. The race is produced by the local running shop and benefits a Williamsburg health clinic that provides no-cost medical services. And every year I have missed the race. Until last Saturday.
Destination races are excuses for runners to go someplace exciting, ostensibly to race but really just to go. “Why,” asks an article in Forbes on destination races, “run through the ho-hum streets of your hometown when you can race through stunning scenery in a far- flung locale?” Even if your hometown isn’t ho-hum — I happen to think that Washington DC is stunning — the travel bug bites and a race is as good a reason as any to plan a trip.Destination racers are generally looking at marathons or, at the least, half marathons. Want to run a marathon up Mount Kilimanjaro? There’s a race for that. I’m not a distance runner of any sort. I’m actually barely a runner — more like a trotter — so my travels take me to 5Ks.
Run the DoG started in a neighborhood bordering Colonial Williamsburg. I felt sorry for the people who lived in the area, especially the ones directly next to the start line, because the race organizers started blasting loud, pounding rock-and-roll at around 6:30 am. But they had to have gotten permission from the neighbors to have the race there … right?
At around 7:20 a fife and drum played. Because nothing starts in Williamsburg without fife and drums.
I don’t know how much you know about running, but runners at a race are positioned behind the start line according to their run time. The elite runners, who can do a 5k in 15 minutes or less, group at the very front. Each subsequently slower group gets in place behind them. I was with my people — the Waaaayyyy Back People. We were practically in Yorktown.
The elite runners took off at 7:30 and by the time my group worked our way up to the start line a few minutes later, the elites were half way through the course. We ran through the campus of the College of William and Mary, which is adjacent to CW and far hillier than I’d remembered. Then we worked our way back to the historic area, around the Palace Green and past the Governor’s Palace.
Just as I rounded the Capitol building, its bell rang 8:00. I needed to hustle the last quarter mile down the Duke of Gloucester if I was going to make a respectable showing. As it was, I finished exactly in the middle of the pack.
The race was at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning, so we — I dragged Patricia with me — arrived in Williamsburg on Friday. We stayed, as we usually do, at one of the taverns that is part of the Colonial Williamsburg hotel system. This time, we were in the Brick House Tavern, on Duke of Gloucester Street, and nothing could have been more convenient than being an eight minute walk from the race start line and a five minute walk from the finish.
Run the DoG is produced by Colonial Sports in Williamsburg and benefits the Angels of Mercy Medical Clinic, which provides free healthcare to uninsured residents in the greater Williamsburg area. The 8th annual running should take place in April 2017. See you there.