POWHATAN – Xavier Thompson was searching online for obstacle course races in the area when he found the Powhatan Warrior Run under the mud run guide. Thompson – who ran track and cross country back when he was in high school – read up on the event, saw it was in its second year, liked what it stood for and made the early-morning drive from Charlottesville, where he’s a research coordinator at the University of Virginia, to support and compete in the new, growing race at Powhatan High School.
“Races like this – you never know what you’re going to get, you never know who’s going to come out,” he said. “Definitely love the sense of camaraderie, a sense of adventure.”
And after he and his fellow competitors ran, carried rocks, powered up flights of steps with sandbags over their shoulders, flipped tires, did pull-ups and crawled across a muddy stretch, Thompson circled the PHS track one last time carrying something about his shoulders that billowed outwards like a cape.
It was the American Flag. Thompson was all smiles as he took the overall victory in a race that was founded by Powhatan High School senior Calie Rehme.
With the Powhatan Warrior Run, Rehme, who will be going to the United States Coast Guard Academy, spoke earlier in the year about wanting to “bring more awareness to our military and what they do for all of our communities.”
Featuring a diverse group of runners who ranged in age and occupation, this year’s Warrior Run took place on May 18 - Armed Forces Day – and raised over $1,000 in scholarship money for students graduating and attending a military college, academy or college ROTC program. The 5k – which started and finished on the track and also took runners through surrounding fields and woods, up the flight of steps that leads into the stadium and down the ramps on either side – added new stations including tire flips, pull-ups and lunges. The course featured six pull-up bars, which were built by Rehme and a couple of her friends, including Corey Palmore, and are now permanent structures that can be used by Powhatan County Public Schools.
Some of the running in the course was redesigned from last year, and a big hill was added into the ending portion of the race layout for “that one final push,” Rehme said.
Thompson was most proud of overcoming the 8-foot wall that he and his competitors had to scale in the woods towards the end of the race. If he were attacking the obstacle while completely fresh, it would’ve been easy, he surmised.
But “looking at it in that moment maybe halfway through the course, you’re running through trails and you’re just hoping: I get one good jump and I don’t have to try this again,” Thompson said, “and I did.”
Following Thompson’s winning time of 24:13, Matthew Hedgepeth, from Chester, made a final sprint towards the finish line to take second place overall in the Warrior Run on a 24:30.
“I just like running, I like to train…I heard about this race through my job and decided to come out and support it and just allow for myself to continue to better myself,” Hedgepeth said. “I love the cause that it supports.”
Sean Hall, who this year was also a third-place finisher in the 126 weight division of the Class 4 state wrestling tournament, took third overall in the Warrior Run on a time of 27:33, and was the highest finishing Powhatan High School student in the race. Hall goes to the gym and sometimes lifts with Rehme, whom he said had talked the wrestlers into competing in and supporting the race.
“It’s great to see everyone come out to help support Calie and the veterans,” Hall said. “It’s a good cause.”
Callie Karjane, who goes to Maggie Walker Governor’s School and competes in rowing with Rehme, was the top female finisher in the Warrior Run on a winning time of 30:03.
Thanks to the money raised by the race, Powhatan High School will present two scholarships for $250 each and one for $500. Although the winners have yet to be decided, the scholarships will be awarded at the senior awards banquet on June 6.
“Having a place where we can come together, challenge ourselves mentally and physically while giving money to scholarships for students going into our military and going to be veterans one day and really contribute to our military and our country…I’m really excited about that and proud that we can have an event where these people are really pumped to be here and challenging themselves for that great cause,” Rehme said.
Rehme is a senior this year, but Thompson hopes they continue holding the Powhatan Warrior Run after she graduates.
“Congrats to her for even starting something like this,” he said. “This is awesome.”