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HISTORIC HALF RUNNER DRAWN TO FREDERICKSBURG
Cindy Whitehead of Fredericksburg has run all Historic Half marathons to date and plans to return to mark her fifth on May 20, 2012. Whitehead was initially drawn to participate in the inaugural 2008 Historic Half because of the reputation of the Marine Corps Marathon.
“I thought this race [the Historic Half] would be well run and have the same spirit as the full marathon,” says Whitehead, a member of the newly-created Iron Mile Company honoring runners who have participated in every Historic Half. “It surpassed my expectations!”
It was the Marine presence combined with the appeal of Fredericksburg that kept her coming back every year- and led to some big decisions in her life, as well. Whitehead resided in Baltimore, MD until the summer of 2010 when a job opportunity arose at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren. After bringing her husband along to experience the 2010 Historic Half, the decision to relocate to Fredericksburg was solidified.
“It was the inaugural [Historic Half] that hooked me into the charm of Fredericksburg. The history, the downtown, the friendly people,” Whitehead says. “Tim [husband] came with me in 2010 but at the time we had no idea that we might move here. Having him see Fredericksburg with me sealed the deal for the job and the move.”
Now as a resident of the city, Whitehead’s enthusiasm for the Historic Half remains strong. Her intent to run in 2012 even factored into her family planning. Pregnant with her first child, a boy due at the end of February, she plans to sign up for the Historic Half when registration opens on January 25 and resume training after his birth.
“If we didn't get pregnant by July 2011, I was going to wait until after the  Half before we tried again. Now I'll have time to deliver, recover, and run,” says Whitehead.
Over the course of the past four years, Whitehead has recruited others to join her in experiencing a great race combined with the allure of Fredericksburg. Her first run through the city was with her brother, Cedric, and, since then, she has shared her races with running partners from Baltimore as well as her husband, who, after cheering her on in 2010, ran his first half marathon with her in 2011.
“The organization of the race from packet pickup… to the race course and post-race are so well run, and now I’m proud to show off my new town,” she says.
While she says choosing which running of the Historic Half has been her favorite to date is difficult, Whitehead holds a particular affinity for the inaugural year. The race itself and her introduction to the city make 2008 memorable.
“I was still new to the distance and the course was so varied through a retail area, then residential, then historical, then that big hill. There was a surprise around every turn. Now each race is a jog down memory lane,” she adds.
Over the last four years, Whitehead has gained intimate knowledge of the Historic Half course. For her, a highlight is the aerial display of the American flag on Cowan Boulevard presented by the Fredericksburg Fire Department and the Chancellor Fire and Rescue squad. “My eyes tear up every time,” she admits.
Four years, however, has not been long enough for the course to become easy for Whitehead.
“You think that by living here I’d be prepared for Hospital Hill,” she says. “It’s still hard!”