Quinnelly, Warner ‘catch the spirit’ in benefit 5K

December 22, 2012


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CAPON BRIDGE, W.Va., Dec. 22, 2012 — Roland Bland said that when he arrived at the midway point of the 3.1-mile Catch the (Christmas) Spirit 5K run/walk on Saturday in Capon Bridge, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to make it back.

Undaunted by the 25-degree temperature at the 11 a.m. race start, it was instead a constant wind — with gusts up to 40 miles an hour — that greeted Bland and about two dozen other runners and walkers on the out-and-back course that started and finished at Faith Bible Baptist Church and ran along Smokey Hollow Road.

With the encouragement of fellow walker Jeff Fagga, Bland went on to complete the 5K — as did everyone else who toed the start line. Bland had originally planned to complete the 1-mile option that followed the 5K, but appeared motivated by the turnout despite the harsh conditions. With a smile, he pinned on bib No. 75 and went to the end of the church driveway, which served as the start and finish area.

It wasn’t the most difficult thing Bland, a disabled Army veteran who was honorably discharged from the Army after nearly 15 years of service, has had to put up with recently. On Dec. 1, a catastrophic fire consumed his family’s home and all its contents. Bland, and his fiancé Shannon Wood and two teen-aged daughters, lost everything. The family had said it recently had completed its Christmas shopping.

The idea of the benefit race belonged to Romney resident and self-taught high school junior Allyson Fagga, who approached the Potomac Highlands Distance Club about staging the event. The fire occurred on Dec. 1, and Fagga brought the idea to the club four days later. Everything that happened on Saturday took place on only 17 days’ planning. With the PHDC on board, Fagga and club officials quickly scurried to garner community support from businesses, civic organizations and individuals. Their efforts paid off, as donations before the event totaled $300. Including entry fees, the event generated more than $650 for the Bland family, who is set to move into a new home on New Year’s Day after living the past month in a Winchester hotel.


Ryan Quinnelly, 30, of Winchester, Va., paced behind Eric Vaubel and Kevin Spradlin until shortly after the 1-mile point. Quinnelly then forged ahead and left Vaubel and Spradlin to fight for second place — or so it seemed. At the midway point, Spradlin led Vaubel by a handful of seconds — but led Emily Warner and Jonathan Bellingham by only a few seconds each. Both Warner, 28, of Winchester, and Bellingham, 50, of Capon Springs, passed Spradlin before the 2-mile mark and cruised to the finish line in second and third place, respectively.

Quinnelly stopped the clock in 19 minutes and 33.4 seconds. Warner held off Bellingham and took second overall in 20:56.1. Bellingham outdistanced Spradlin, 33, of LaVale, Md., by more than 22 seconds — 21:06.7 to 21:29.1 — while Vaubel, 42, of Delray, placed fifth overall in 21:375.


Matthew Fagga, 15, of Romney, captured the Under-20 crown with a time of 23:28.4.


The first-place female, Emily Warner, looked familiar to the women’s runner-up, mother Ann Warner, 58, of Shanks. She finished in 27:27.8 — a mere 1.2 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Aseel Salman, 29, of Winchester. Ann Warner clocked a 27:27.8 while Salman finished in 27:28.9.

Volunteers included Allyson Fagga, Noah Spradlin, Shannon Wood, Cecelia Fagga, Nancy Cutlip, Lindsay Brill, MacKenzie Spradlin, Stephanie Spradlin, the Hampshire County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Reserve, Kimberly Fagga, Austin Dowdney, Desire Dowdney and more.

A huge “THANK YOU” to the individual and organizational donors for today’s event, including Panhandle Ministries, the Tea Cupboard, Gourmet Central, Dennis and Donna Lipscomb, David Brunnel, Patricia Baxter and many, many more.


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