Festival of Lights 5k

Runners attack the hill at the Bull Run Park Special Events Center grounds during the Festival of Lights 5k.     Photo by Charlie Ban
Runners attack the hill at the Bull Run Park Special Events Center grounds during the Festival of Lights 5k. Photo by Charlie Ban

Rob Bell was a little bummed after the Festival of Lights 5k, New Year’s Eve afternoon.”Man, I got beat by a girl,” the former Virginia Wesleyan College runner said, disappointed.

His spirits were buoyed when he heard the girl, Lebanon, N.J.’s Julie Culley, made the U.S. Olympic Team after winning the 5k at the track and field trials.

[button-red url=”http://www.bullrunrunners.com/winners/2012.html” target=”_self” position=”left”] Results [/button-red]“Ok, that’s not so bad,” Bell said.

Culley was close behind the overall, running 17:14 for second, behind Andrew Lull (16:59).

What was she doing at the race, a two-lap circumnavigation of a gravel loop around the Bull Run Park special events center, followed by an out and back on a paved road? “My coach (New York-New Jersey Track Club’s Frank Gagliano) wanted me to get a hard five miles in, so I figured I’d do it in a race,” she said. “It was a good time of day and I could get the work in while it was still light.”

Following the Olympics, Culley planned to race the ING New York Marathon, but Hurricane Sandy put an end to that, plus her competitive season. As a track coach at American University, she recalled coming out to Bull Run for a collegiate race, and she remembered the course looked challenging.

“It was even harder than I remembered,” she said.

Hull, of Noakesville, ran a controlled race and took the win home, but the race was more than that for him. It was a comeback for this father, Tajr, who ran his first race in 25 years.

“I used to do marathons, triathlons, everything,” he said. “Then I had kids.”Andrew challenged him to run the race with six months’ notice and he enjoyed getting back into the swing of running.

“After two miles, I really started to loosen up and felt great,” he said.

Peter Thompson and his mother, Carol VanCleef, ran the race last year, and their trip back was part of their family bonding. He finished about 35 seconds faster than last year, and she was quite happy with her improvement. She lost her age group title, though, in the last stretch.

“I just didn’t have the kick,” she said.

The Green family was decidedly brown, dressed as reindeer. They came from across the country, owing to their family’s tradition of getting all five siblings together for Christmas every other year, the alternating years spent at in-laws’ homes.

Every year the Greens unite, though, the host chooses a group activity. They are visiting EJ Green‘s Manassas home, and as such, the former NAIA champion in the 4×800 relay chose a 5k for the family.

All of the Greens ran in their youth, and most do to this day, only once they reach their goal race, they go dormant, like Ron(Prancer), of Gordon, Neb. who awakened to outkick his sister, Joy (Vixen), of Brooklyn. Joy is the only family member to run consistently.

“I had to beat her, I didn’t care if I just came off the couch,” Ron said.

The siblings wore upside-down gingerbread man cutouts ontheir heads to serve as antlers.

“Our pregnant sister could have gone as Santa and led the sleigh,” Joy said.

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