A slightly pudgy young man with a pretend boombox on his shoulder and the words "couch potato" written on his shirt started off in the front row of Sunday's Goblin Gallop 5K race.
Then the serious runners took over, and breaking the tape first with a time of 15:21 was Alexandre L'Heureux, 23, of Raleigh, N.C. First-place female was his girlfriend, Lucinda Hull, 23, also of Raleigh, in 17:03.
Her twin sister Claudin was the second-place overall female finisher. Coming in third overall in the women's division was Laura Freix, 43, of Centreville.
This 11th annual race, now called the Valvoline Instant Oil Change Goblin Gallop, was held at the Fair Lakes Shopping Center. Proceeds go to the John Quadrino Foundation to Benefit Children with Cancer.
It's named in honor of race organizer George Quadrino's young son who died of the disease in 1985. And all the money from the event funds grants to families of children with cancer.
MORE THAN 1,100 people total participated in the 5K race and 1K fun run — some 802 in the 5K and 300 in the 1K — raising nearly $24,000 for the foundation. "Both totals are close to records, and we were very pleased," said George Quadrino. "It was a wonderful day, a happy crowd and a very successful event."
As for local runners, Mark Whalley of Fairfax came in seventh overall in the 5K, and Centreville's Mark Shaffer, 10th. Freix competed in the event for at least her fifth time. But when she saw the Hull twins at the starting line, she said, "I knew there was no way I could have beat those girls. Plus, I had about 20 years on them."
Although she'd hoped to break 19 minutes (her time was 19:10), Freix was pleased with her performance. "I think it's a great, little race," she said. "I like community races because they're on my home turf."
In the fun run, two sets of brothers captured first through fourth places. In first and second places, respectively were the Fulghums, Patrick, 12, and John, 15, of Vienna.
Nicholas and Jordan Lehman of The Fairways community in Chantilly came in third and fourth places, respectively. Nicholas, 10, is a fifth-grader at Cub Run elementary. Jordan, 12, is a seventh-grader at Stone Middle. Their parents are Elaine and Terry Lehman.
L'Heureux, who's French-Canadian and whose name means "happy" in French, graduated in May from the University of Michigan and is just starting a landscape-architect business in Raleigh. He's currently running 75-80 miles a week, but will soon increase his mileage to prepare for the Canadian National Cross Country Championship, Dec. 4, in Toronto, as well as the next Olympics.
BOTH LUCINDA and Claudin Hull are athletes on the Adidas Raleigh Track Club and run some 70 miles a week. They graduated from N.C. State in May and are part-time bank tellers. "We're focusing on the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing," Said Claudin. "We're both looking to quality in the steeplechase, which is 3,000 meters. It'll be the first time it's a women's race in the Olympics."
Their family lives in Maryland and, said Lucinda, "We were coming come for Halloween weekend, and our dad told us about the Goblin Gallop." Actually, dad, Charles Hull, is no slouch, himself. At 59, he runs 33 miles a week and has been in 12 marathons — including the Boston and Marine Corps marathons.
His daughters have been running since ninth grade. Said Hull: "I got them to stretch out their usual runs from one to three miles and more by telling them the tale of Brer Bear, as they ran, so they wouldn't feel the pain."
Donations may be sent to The John Quadrino Foundation at P.O. Box 4614, Falls Church, VA 22044. Contributions are tax-deductible and may also be made via the Combined Federal Campaign/United Way by designating them for CFC/UW No. 8931.