With a tip of his cap, Connor Hendrickson finished the 2019 Marine Corps Historic Half looking equal parts cultured and composed.

But it took a mad dash to get him to the starting line.

The Texas native and former University of Virginia runner exhausted his NCAA eligibility two weeks ago, and while his legs hadn’t yet started to atrophy, the competitive hiatus struck him as a waste nonetheless.

“I was sitting there yesterday, figured I was getting out of shape,” Hendrickson said.

He’d heard about the Historic Half—sort of hot, hella hilly—from friends in his graduate program and decided to sign up. When he submitted his payment around 3 p.m. Saturday, Hendrickson assumed he could pick up his race day packet early Sunday morning.

That was not the case. So Hendrickson raced from Charlottesville to the Fredericksburg Expo Center ahead of the 6 p.m. deadline, picked up his packet, ate dinner, and promptly went home.

“It was a very scenic drive,” he noted.

With limited preparation, Hendrickson relied on his pedigree as a college distance runner specializing in the 10k. His winning time of 1:15.23 outpaced runner-up Stephen Harrison by about 30 seconds.

“I’ve run this distance before, but never this fast,” Hendrickson said. “I was kind of worried at four miles. I figured it might not be my day. [Harrison] looked really good.”

But Hendrickson overtook him as the leaders entered the downtown portion of the course, then padded his advantage over the final few miles. Not that it was a pleasure cruise.

“When you get to that hospital [hill] and start going straight up at like 10 miles, you wish you didn’t have to do that,” he said.

Marine Corps 1st Lt. Lindsay Carrick cruised to victory in the women’s division with a time of 1:25.01, more than two minutes ahead of her nearer competitor. Fredericksburg resident Erica Brecher placed third.

Carrick, a logistics officer who lives in Fredericksburg, placed third among women in last fall’s Marine Corps Marathon and competed in the Boston Marathon in April. After that gauntlet, the Historic Half amounted to something of a fun run with a familiar setting.

“It was hard to pass up a chance to run a race in my backyard,” Carrick said.

Disappointment at the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon drove Matt O’Neil to attempt the Devil Dog Double, which entailed running the Semper 5ive-miler immediately followed by the half marathon.

O’Neill, wearing a bandana adorned with the Virginia state flag, showed his true colors by acing the 18.1-mile circuit in a blistering 1:43.56.

“Honestly, I didn’t have a strategy,” said O’Neil, who finished his first marathon just three weeks ago. “I went through five miles and wasn’t even looking at my watch. Probably across the five-mile mark I looked down and felt, ‘Wow, I’m really moving.’”

The husband and wife duo of Mark and Emily Hopely swept their respective divisions in the Semper 5ive, earning the moniker “the first couple of running,” from Congressman Rob Wittman, who administered awards.

Hendrickson is currently pursuing a masters in structural engineering. He understands that even the staunchest foundations crumble over time. He received an injury redshirt at the University of Texas, and even prior to Sunday’s race, his left foot was acting up.

“I’ve been running pretty hard for about nine years,” said Hendrickson, 23. “My body has felt that, and it’s told me to stop a few times but I haven’t. I definitely enjoy running, but it might be time.

“I just wanted to come out here and run something I could hang my hat on.”

MEN’S TOP 10

1. Connor Hendrickson (Charlottesville) 1:15:23, 2. Stephen Harrison (Fredericksburg) 1:15:54; 3. Christopher Pirch (Spotsylvania) 1:15:59; 4. Richard Harris (Washington) 1:18:00; 5. Jonathan Ladson (Woodbridge) 1:18:19; 6. Matt Boyd (Fredericksburg) 1:21:01; 7. Sean Blue (Quantico) 1:21:43; 8. Jared Jenkins (Fredericksburg) 1:22:09; 9. He Huang (Woodbridge) 1:22:17; 10. David Neal (Richmond) 1:22.47.

WOMEN’S TOP 10

1. Lindsay Carrick (Fredericksburg) 1:25:01; 2. Abigail Cember (Ardmore, Pa.) 1:27:07; 3. Erica Brecher (Fredericksburg) 1:27:13; 4. Shauneen Werlinger (Springfield) 1:27:34.65; 5. Serena Burla (Stafford) 1:27:34.79; 6. Tracy Dzibela (Fredericksburg) 1:27:56; 7. Alice Henley (Oakland Park, Fla.) 1:29:11; 8. Jillian Weisbeck (Fredericksburg) 1:29:53; 9. Amy Huerta (Fredericksburg) 1:30:34; 10. Stefani Watterson (Alexandria) 1:31:04.

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Joey LoMonaco: 540/368-5045 jlomonaco@freelancestar.com @joeylomonaco

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