OK, I really wanted to get 34 counties/cities in by the end of 2012, so I made a road trip to the Williamsburg area for a three-run extravaganza. I knocked out Gloucester County, James City County and Charles City County all in one weekend. I’ll save Williamsburg and York County for another time.
For the Gloucester County run, I started at Tyndall’s Point Park in Gloucester Point. The very small park just across the York River from Yorktown was strategically important as early as 1667 when Virginia was threatened by a Dutch invasion. During the decisive Revolutionary War’s Battle of Yorktown, the British unsuccessfully attempted to retreat through the area. The Battle of Gloucester Point in May 1861 involved a Union gunboat on the river exchanging fire with Virginia cannons on land. It was the first Civil War engagement in the state.
Unlike some of the more touristy destinations in the area, the rather humble park consists of three parking spots, a quarter mile path through earthworks, a few cannons, and a half dozen informational signs.
After running through the park, I headed out hoping to find a nearby beach park. I never quite found it, but I did find a large marina that made up for the mileage and looked to be a potentially nice place to have dinner at someday. Gloucester Point is also home to a rather large oceanography center run by the College of William & Mary.
The county is rich with history. The oft disputed legend of Captain John Smith getting sentenced to death by Chief Powhatan but then saved by Pocahontas took part in the county. During the 17th and 18th century, it was home to major tobacco plantations.
For the James City County run, I managed to avoid historic areas in one of the most historic counties in the U.S. and instead went to the beautifully artificial land of Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas Town. The 8K run featured a large herd of Chick-fil-a cows to cheer on the 3,000 or so runners that stampeded through the sparkly park. It was fun to run through the attractions, although I wished more of the holiday lights had been on.
The county is home to Jamestown, the first permanent European settlement in the New World, founded in 1607. Today, Jamestown, along with Yorktown and Williamsburg, has been transformed into a major destination for history buffs.
After the park run, I hopped into my car and went to Charles City County where I ran part of the Virginia Capital Trail. The plan is for the trail to eventually stretch from Richmond to Jamestown. The Charles City Courthouse area has the longest chunk of completed trail – about 8 miles of nicely paved surface. I did about four miles of it, passing by mostly farm fields.
Charles City County has its own place in history. In the area of Weyanoke in 1619, English settlers brought over the first enslaved Africans to North America. A number of historic plantations are located in the county. Its Native American roots run deep and it is currently the home to the Chickahominy Tribe with 800 members. Today, the county seems to acknowledge and celebrate both the diversity and coming together of the three cultures.
33 down, 101 to go.
View gloucester point in a larger map
View busch gardens run in a larger map
View charles city in a larger map