The Downtown South Boston Farmers’ Market’s “Sprint to Spring 5K” Saturday morning was a success.

A total of 43 people laced up their running shoes and made their way from the farmers’ market on Broad Street up to Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, back down Main Street, finishing up back at the farmers’ market.

Professional runners competing regularly in races and novices of all ages walking or running their first 5K all participated in the community run/walk.

“It went really well,” said Megan Throckmorton-Harris, manager of the Downtown South Boston Farmers’ Market. “We had a lot of runners, and we had great support from the community, too.”

Angela Smith ran the 5K alongside her 13-year-old daughter Kennedy, a member of the middle school girls’ organization “Girls on the Run.”

“I thought it was a nice route, and it was perfect weather,” Smith said. “We’ve enjoyed all the market vendors, too, and made some purchases.”

Running in a 5K was a first-time experience for Kennedy but based on her experience, it won’t be her last.

“I liked every minute of it,” Kennedy said.

Several coaches of Girls on the Run — Senecca Kirkhart, Rebecca Stimson, Maryanne Austin and Rebekah Slabach — joined the girls in running the “Sprint to Spring 5K.”

“I love bringing more awareness of running to the community,” said Kirkhart, adding she also enjoys supporting the farmers’ market vendors.

Another member of Girls on the Run who ran in Saturday’s 5K is 12-year-old Samantha Van Opstal, sister of the second-place finisher in the race Will Van Opstal.

“I like being able to be social and run with my friends,” Samantha said, of her membership in Girls on the Run. She said she and her brother Will have always loved running.

Running is like second nature for Will Van Opstal, a junior at Halifax County High School. He shared that he started running at the age of 5 and ran his first four-mile race at the age of 8. He liked that Saturday’s 5K was low-key.

“It was nice and casual; it wasn’t super competitive,” Van Opstal said. “It was just having a good time.”

Jacob Barker, 20, of Drakes Branch, was the top finisher in the 5K, completing the race in 16 minutes and 17 seconds. The third-place finisher was Michael M. Campbell of South Boston.

“It was a good experience for me. I really like things like this,” Campbell said. “To be in shape is good for health.”

Originally from Nicaragua, Campbell said he was a professional basketball player in his home country and started a running team “Basket Runners” there. He said he and his wife Brittany have lived in South Boston for a year and based on their positive experience here so far, they plan to stay in the community for a long time.

Gwen Harris and her daughter Taylor Harris, of Saxe, had an enjoyable first-time experience running in Saturday’s 5K.

“It was so fun!” said Gwen, an avid walker who typically walks two miles a day. “It was a nice crowd, and I made friends along the way.”

Gwen said she and Taylor had trouble keeping up with her sister-in-law Hope Harris-Gayles and her daughters who also walked the 5K. Taylor said she had always wanted to do a 5K and since she was off work for this year’s race, decided to “go for it.”

After the race, Gwen and Taylor received a four-cell pack of plants from Tuck Farms and mini muffins from another market vendor, Ben Capozzi of Broad Shoulders Farms.

Throckmorton-Harris said the farmers’ market had wonderful community support for the 5K, from the members of the South Boston Police Department directing traffic and keeping the runners safe during the race, to the downtown businesses making prize donations for the top three finishers in the race. Anne Eakes, owner of The Busy Bean, also offered up free beverages to runners in the 5K.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at