WILLIAMSBURG ——Mbarak Hussein hopes to compete well into his 50s and 60s, inspiring younger runners the way older runners motivate him. Chris Kimbrough simply hopes to compete more frequently.
Hussein and Kimbrough were the overall winners of the inaugural Fit to Run Fit to Dream 8-kilometer race, USA Track and Field's national championship for Master's Class runners age 40 and above.
"I had no idea what to expect," said Kimbrough, a 41-year-old mother of five who lives in Austin, Texas. "My coach thought I could get top five. I was kind of hoping for that."
Kimbrough clocked 28 minutes, 18 seconds over the 8K course that wound through the streets of Williamsburg and finished at William and Mary's Zable Stadium.
She outlasted former William and Mary track star Sonja Friend-Uhl (28:56) and 48-year-old Laurel Park (30:38) on a picture-perfect Saturday morning.
Saturday's event kicked off a two-race weekend in Williamsburg, capped by Sunday's first Run for the Dream Half-Marathon, a fund-raiser for the An Achievable Dream schools for at-risk youth in Newport News and for the U.S. armed forces' Wounded Warriors program.
"We're perfectionists at what we do, and we're very critical of our own performance," said race overseer Dave McGillivray, whose outfit also runs the Boston Marathon and other major road races around the country. "But everything seemed to come together — the weather, community support. … From what I'm hearing from the runners, they're pleased with the event."
No complaints from Hussein. A naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Albuquerque, N.M., he ran 24:40 — a pending age-group record — and burned off runnerup Mark Andrews (25:04) in the final two miles.
"I knew once Mbarak was here, I was pretty much running for second," said the 40-year-old Andrews, the reigning 2011 Masters half-marathon champion and a former winner of the Colonial Half-Marathon.
Though Hussein's specialty is the marathon, he is obviously competitive at shorter distances.
"It's a tuneup," said Hussein, who clocked 2:16 at the Twin Cities (Minn.) Marathon last fall. "I use this to build up speed. Marathoners are getting faster."
Hussein's time was one second faster than the 8K record set by Bill Rodgers in 1993. He was pleased with the course, not only the turns and rolling terrain, but the fact that on some of the loops and double-backs, he could see other Masters class runners not very far behind him.
"I see guys 55, 60," Hussein said, "it's motivation for me. I could see guys 50-something and 60-something right behind me."
Hussein, Andrews and eventual third-place finisher Fred Kieser (25:29) ran together for the first two miles. Hussein and Andrews pulled away in the third mile, and then Hussein opened a gap by pushing harder on the course's inclines in the final two miles.
"The course was a little hillier than I expected," said Andrews, who lives in Rochester, N.Y. "I expected it be a little flatter. The heat and humidity are a little higher than we get at home at this time of the year, so I'm not used to that yet.
"I was hoping to run a little bit faster, something in Mbarak's range, but I'm happy with where I finished."
If Hussein and Andrews were happy, Kimbrough was ecstatic. She said that Saturday was her first Masters' class race.
"I don't follow other runners or their performances," she said.
Kimbrough's been running only for six years and started mostly as a means to get in shape after giving birth. Her youngest just turned one in January.
"It's easier to fit in shorter runs when you're home with the kids," said Kimbrough, a former college point guard at Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Mont. "I'd like to do some more."
Kimbrough and Friend-Uhl raced together for the first two miles before Friend-Uhl fell off the pace.
Though the former W&M star relished the opportunity to return to Williamsburg and be part of the weekend's inaugural event, she was disappointed that she didn't provide a stiffer challenge.
"I love to race," she said, "and I felt like I was out there surviving and not racing."
She said that for the past several weeks, her energy level has dipped dramatically after approximately 10 minutes of training or competing.
A coach and trainer, as well as a competitor, she wondered if she has an iron deficiency, and plans to have blood work done when she returns home to suburban Nashville.
She is a national-class age-group runner on the track, at distances from 800 to 3,000 meters, and she's pointing toward the World Track Masters' championships in Sacramento in July.
"It gives me some time to prepare for that," she said.