20 Years of the Monument Ave. Running Party

By Annie Tobey | January 17th, 2019

The Monument Avenue 10k celebrates 20 years with perks and training team improvements

Monument Ave 10K

April 13 will see the 20th running of a favorite Richmond race, a 6.2-mile course for walkers and serious runners alike. Over the years, the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k has helped numerous people meet fitness goals, gain confidence, kickstart a running lifestyle or just have fun.

Ray Flournoy, now 60, has run every Monument Avenue 10k. He began running in 1991. “I was so out of shape,” he recalls. “I was just not happy with myself.” That same year, he ran the Richmond half marathon. He ran the Richmond marathon the following year – and every year since. “You gain a bunch of new friends and the community kind of evolves.”

Lenora Mariner
Lenora Mariner (left)

Lenora Mariner, turning 64 in February, has participated in the 10k 13 times and is a long-time 10k training team coach at the Midlothian Y. She became involved with aerobics before running, first at Victory Lady then at ACAC in Midlothian (Briarwood at the time), as a participant and an instructor.

She recalls when a woman at the gym said to her, “‘Lenora, come and do this [5k] race with me.’ [I replied], ‘I’ve never run a race before.’ ‘Oh, you can do it.’ The lady who invited me was 9 to 10 years older, so I thought, I can keep up with Charlene, no problem. So the race started – ‘I’ll keep up with Charlene. I’ll be alright.’ So a few minutes later – ‘As long as I can keep her in my eyesight, I’ll be alright.’ And so then – ‘I know she’ll wait for me at the end!’” Mariner laughs at the memory. “And that was my very first race. It was a very humbling experience.”

Apparently, it was a very motivating experience, too. She kept on running, joined the Richmond Sports Backers Marathon Training Team (MTT) and soon began coaching – first the MTT, then the Sports Backers Half Marathon Training Team and then the Sports Backers YMCA 10k Training Team.

As a 10k coach, Mariner has worked with many people who are unsure of their ability to handle the distance. “We have a lot of first-timers at the 10k. [I tell them], ‘You can do it, hang in there … I encourage them – just come out to the training, they’ll get you there. We slowly increment and add on the miles.”

Lenora Mariner Monument Ave 10K
Lenora Mariner (right)

For some, the 10k becomes a stepping stone. She recalls half-marathon runners who began on her 10k training team. “It’s just such a good feeling to see that they were successful in doing the 10k, and then they moved on to take on a greater challenge … To help people and get them over the hump, and to motivate them, and to see them move on to other challenges, it’s just so rewarding to me,” Mariner says.

This year, the Sports Backers YMCA 10k Training Team has 19 teams scattered throughout the region, including the first Sunday group (meeting at the Shady Grove Family YMCA), two stroller-friendly groups (at Deep Run Park and Rockwood Park) and a virtual training team option.

For all 10k participants, beginning this year, Sports Backers is offering perks to runners for Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k milestones.

  • Five or more: your name on a banner at the pre-race health and fitness expo
  • 10 or more: car decal commemorating your ten completions
  • 15 or more: 10k garden flag
  • 20: 10k duffel bag

And as always, the event provides an opportunity for good times – for runners, walkers and spectators – with live music and enthusiastic spectators along the route. Runners and walkers can enter the Dress Up & Run costume contest. Spectators can win the Allianz Partners Community Spirit Contest or the Porch Party Contest presented by Impact Makers (registration required for both).

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