Wicked or soggy: Annual race run in the rain


Nearly 200 take off Saturday morning for the start of the 8th Annual Wicked Bottom 5k sponsored by Culpeper Parks and Rec. This year it started and ended at Lenn Park.
Photo by Marshall Conner

Last weekend’s 8th Annual Wicked Bottom 5k could have been renamed the “Soggy Bottom 5K” yet the rain did little to dampen the spirits of the nearly 200 participants in the Kids Fun Run and 5K.  A band of rain showers settled over the race just after the Kids Fun Run and minutes after the start of the 5K.

In contrast to the prior seven events the race began and concluded in Lenn Park and the official times were recorded electronically by Race Works Timing. In previous years the race was held next to Old Vineyards historic farmhouse.

Culpeper Parks and Recreation reported 184 entrants in the 5K known for its scenic views and eclectic additions to the normal cross-country format. Despite the rain the event kept its fun tone. There was a saxophone player, wine tastings, massages and yoga to soothe runners before and after the run. Local childcare provider Kid Central offered face-painting and crafts.

The top overall male finisher was first-time runner William Snodgrass, 31, of Richmond with a time of 20:33.

“This was my first 5K so I’m very happy with my finish. I don’t really train that often. I run in my neighborhood,” said Snodgrass following the race. “I double knotted my laces and hoped for the best. My girlfriend told me about this 5K—she’s enjoyed running in it before. The scenery was beautiful even with the rain.”

The top overall finisher in the female division was race veteran Danielle Hardaway, 47, of Rixeyville who finished with a time of 23:51.

“I’ve been the top-female finisher six-out-of-eight times that I’ve competed in the Wicked Bottom 5K. It’s a great event and Culpeper Parks and Recreation Department does an excellent job organizing the race,” said Hardaway.

Standing next to Hardaway was her 11-year-old daughter beaming with pride and confidence.

“I was the third overall woman. It was about not giving up and having the moral support of my teddy bears,” said Bella Hardaway, daughter of the top female finisher.

“I think she will be a great runner in the future,” added her mother.

The race fulfilled a wide variety of goals for runners spanning age and experience.

Before the 5K, a ½ mile Kids Fun Run was completed. Dozens of children ran the course led by a friendly teenage guide wearing a cape. Following the run three Culpeper brothers all with the last name of Franti gathered to compare stories about the run. The boys finished in their birth order, but the two younger runners promised that things might change in the near future.

“It was cool to beat my little brothers—it’s normal. It’s great to win. I came in second once before,” said Jonas Franti, 9, who was the first kid to cross the finish line.  His brother was second and closing fast.

“He has longer legs, but I’m going to keep growing and get him next year,” said 7-year-old Ewen Franti.

Finishing in the middle of the other runners was little brother Felix Franti, 4, who just smiled and said, “I’ll catch them someday.”

On the other end of the spectrum a couple in their 70s ran the 5K with their daughter.

“We finished and we had a wonderful time,” said S.V. Athavale and his wife Neela. “We were happy to represent our friends in the Silver Club. This is a very nice event.”

A strong presence from one of the area’s top new youth programs Girls on Run also offered dozens of young girls their first experience in a 5K.  Girls on the Run is a program that encourages young girls from 3rd-8th grade to build inner confidence, rise to any challenge and go out and change the world for the better.

“Our program is growing locally and we are excited that many of our girls came out to run today,” said Kathy Butler, a council chairperson for the organization.

By any measure this year’s Wicked Bottom 5K is always a wicked good time.The name Wicked Bottom always evokes subtle notes of sin committed in a distant past, but this year’s run was all about good-natured healthy fun amid the rows of grapevines.

“It’s great working with the Kearney family of Old House Vineyards.  The family was very flexible with the many changes parks and recreation staff implemented due to the dismal weather forecast prior to the Wicked Bottom 5K run.  Although the runners were a little soggy due to rain 10 minutes into the run, they all managed to have smiles at the finish line,” said John Barrett, Director of Culpeper County Parks and Recreation.

The race was organized by Culpeper Parks and Recreation to benefit the Culpeper Recreation Foundation, a non-profit fundraising committee that helps provide additional funding for Culpeper County’s parks.

Medals were awarded to the top male/female finishers then additional medals were awarded to a wide variety of age groups ranging from 5-years-old to senior citizen status.

Many first-time visitors ask why the land between Salubria and Stevensburg was once labeled wicked.

In 1976, historian Mary Stevens Jones wrote, “Wicked Bottom is said to have received its name from the rowdy activities of the wagon passengers who often used the spring site as an overnight campsite.”

Because of its numerous inns and taverns in the late 1800s and early 1900s Stevensburg gained a rather shadowy reputation among local residents. Among the notorious pastimes of the day were horse-racing, rooster-fighting and gambling, according to historical accounts.

The wicked or soggy the Wicked Bottom 5K continues to be a family-friendly affair.