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The rise of Shiloh Park: a recreational sports Mecca

It takes a different kind of athlete to get up 5 a.m. to prepare to run 50k (31 miles) through the rugged terrain of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail, at 6:30 a.m. race-time. After six years, the course continues to challenge endurance racers from walks of life, and all around the state.


In spite of the fog, poison ivy, ticks, and possibly a serpent or two along the way, 41 men and women enthusiastically endured the rigors of the annual race to finish with the knowledge of knowing they did it. The ultra marathon is the only race of its kind ever in King George. The race began and ended at Milepost 0 on Rt. 605, a.k.a. Bloomsbury road.

Both men and women’s overall winners, Virginia Beach resident, Gina Slaby and Arlington resident, Michael Wardian achieved more than just another victory to rest on their mantle; they set a new record for the course. While Slaby age 33, finished with a record setting time of 3:39.26, Wardian finished at 3:10.26. The previous women’s record was set by Emily Halnon in 2012 with a time of 4:20.51, while the previous men’s record was set by Alex Hetherington, at 3:30.42, in 2013.

Wardian’s victory was nearly overshadowed by a strong finish by Slaby’s husband, Steve, who finished at 3:20.05. In fact, Wardian barely managed to maintain a mile lead over Slaby at both Indiantown, and Walmart splits. However, Wardian began to increase his distance between the field, and approaching runners in the final portion of the race.

Other notable category women’s winners included: Kate Moga, 40-49, 5:48.22, Fredericksburg; Lynne Clemo, 50-59, 6:11.26, Fredericksburg; Joyce Ong, 60 & over, 8:03.04, Bristow; Alice Pallotti, others, 5:12.30, King George.

Notable men’s winners included: Alex Hetherington (2013 overall winner), 40-49, 3:45.23, Vienna; Duane Williamson, 50-59, 4:28.31; Uriah Orland, others, 4:11.04, Manassas.

The actual Dahlgren Railroad Trail is 15.7 miles long. The sanctuary is an open space preserve, filled with outlets for wildlife and non-motorized vehicles, such as cycling, jogging, and hiking. The corridor was officially opened for private recreational use June 3, 2006. Currently, efforts in the form of the local conversation group, Friends of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail are underway to maintain the aesthetic natural beauty of the land for present and future generations.

 

Leonard Banks
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