Colonial Relays: Still running strong

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April 4, 2008

1:02 AM

__College set to host storied Colonial Relays at Zable Stadium for 43rd year__

p. For 43 years, the Colonial Relays has offered track and field fans a glimpse of some of the world’s finest athletes. From former 1,500-meter world record holder Sydney Maree to 2000 gold medalist LaTasha Colander, the event has featured Olympians, gold medalists, world and American record holders and countless All-Americans.

p. This weekend’s meet features 16 All-Americans, including Tribe senior Christo Landry, when a contingent of teams compete at Zable Stadium. Distance powerhouses Georgetown University and Iona University, and sprinters from Seton Hall University, headline the competitors.

p. “The fields across the board are going to be great,” men’s Head Coach Alex Gibby said. “Some of the best college teams, in some instances in the country, will be here and certainly in some instances in the east.”

p. In the past, the College has hosted a meet the weekend prior to the relays, and track teams from the north have trained in Williamsburg during spring break.

p. “It was great to see all the athletes running around the campus and all over Williamsburg, and to be walking around and hear the speakers blaring with results and announcing upcoming races,” Ken Halla ’86 said.

p. Halla, a four-time All-American, won the 10,000-m race in 1985, a year after he broke the school record for that distance in his first-ever 10K. He noted that the Colonial Relays were often a steppingstone to greater performances. His victory in 1985 led him to an impressive 70-second improvement on his personal record at the Penn Relays. Additionally, when coach Roy Chernock held him out of the 5,000-m in 1986, he turned in a memorable race at the Penn Relays, winning the 10,000-m.

p. Gibby also mentioned the importance of performances at the Colonial Relays as catalysts to great races.

p. “Every year I ran at the relays, I had a breakthrough in terms of performance, and it keyed off usually very productive outdoor track seasons for me,” Gibby said.

p. In addition to the races, the meet also creates an opportunity for track alumni to return to the College.

p. Last year, Halla, Shelby Hawthorne ’67 and Brian Hyde ’96 organized a reunion to coincide with the Colonial Relays. In attendance at the Alumni House event were 150 alumni, as well as members of the track squad. Halla hopes to continue organizing reunions every few years.

p. Hawthorne noted that reunions give current athletes a chance to meet the College’s record holders so they can see these past performers as more than just names on a wall.

p. Although no official reunion is scheduled for this year’s Colonial Relays, alumni will still flock back to the College to take part in one of the longest-running meets in the country, second only to the Penn Relays.

p. “Even when it’s not a big reunion, alumni come back,” Hawthorne said.

p. The Hawthornes will be hosting guests at their home all weekend long in what Hawthorne termed a ritual. She has seen 42 of the 43 Colonial Relays, while her husband Randy ’67 has attended every meet.

p. “More than the great races has always been the atmosphere that surrounded – still surrounds – the meet,” Halla said. “The meet continues to have a warm spot in our hearts.”

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