KERNSTOWN — The temperature hovered around the freezing point Saturday morning as runners competed in the third annual Battlefield Half Marathon.

Just before 8 a.m., competitor Marie DiLorenzo, 61, of Winchester, stood at the starting line at Kernstown Battlefield wrapped in a large plastic trash bag for warmth, waiting for the race to begin.

Despite being chilly, the seasoned marathon runner said the temperature couldn’t have been better for a race.

“I think it’s perfect,” she said. “It couldn’t be more perfect.”

Minutes later a cannon blast in a nearby field signaled the start of the 13.1-mile race, and DiLorenzo shed her plastic bag and took off with nearly 700 other runners.

DiLorenzo’s plastic bag wasn’t the only creative way to stay warm Saturday.

Runner Justin Baker, 29, of Strasburg, was competing as part of a four-member relay team dressed as Confederate and Union soldiers.

“It’s 30 degrees, so it helps that it’s cold,” he said as he stretched before the race in his all-wool Confederate outfit, complete with a heavy jacket and hat. “Last year, we sweated a little more.”

Baker said the outfits started as a joke — the race’s starting line is on a Civil War battlefield, after all — but now the group has run the race all three years in the costumes.

“When people aren’t expecting to see us turn the corner, it’s kind of fun,” he said.

Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department marketing coordinator Tony Baker said this year’s turnout was larger than last year’s.

“The weather’s better than last year,” he said. “[Last year] it was probably about this temperature, but rainy.”

Simon Chirchir, 32, of Chapel Hill, N.C., took first place in the race with a time of 1:05:28.0, just 1.3 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Geoffrey Ngtich, also 32 and of Chapel Hill.

Veronicah Maina, 27, of Lansing, Mich., was the first female finisher and sixth finisher overall with a time of 1:14:07.3.

Kevin Shirk, 36, of Stephenson, was the first local finisher and fifth finisher overall with a time of 1:09:52.2. With a time of 1:35:46.3, Caitlin McGreevy, 26, also of Stephenson, was the first local female finisher and 30th finisher overall.

Proceeds from the race will benefit Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS), which provides overnight shelter to the homeless from November to March.

“It’s really cool that we’ve got great weather and another great turnout for the event,” Baker said. “We’re really glad to help WATTS and the community out.”

— Contact Amy Alonzo at aalonzo@winchesterstar.com

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