Colonial Williamsburg Gets Off to a Running Start in 2016 with Hair of the Dog 5K

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A runner in formal wear participates in the Hair of the Dog 5K. (Photo Courtesy of Mettle Events)
A runner in formal wear participates in the Hair of the Dog 5K. (Photo Courtesy of Mettle Events)

After 10 years ringing in the New Year in Virginia Beach, Mettle Events will bring its pajama-packed, formal wear-filled Hair of the Dog 5K to Colonial Williamsburg on Jan. 1.

Ann Hupp, an owner of race management business Mettle Events, said she began thinking about relocating the race two years ago after noting the majority of participation in Mettle Events racers came from “Newport News north.”

Williamsburg would be a more central location and it offered the potential to bring Hair of the Dog to DoG Street, she said.

“It was just a really great mix and it threaded it all together,” Hupp said.

She pitched the idea to Colonial Williamsburg, the city, the city’s Economic Development Authority and DoG Street Pub, who all were on board with hosting or participating in the race activities.

The move has already reaped benefits for Mettle Events – as of 8 p.m. Sunday, Hair of the Dog registration is tracking 150 more registrations than the same time last year, Hupp said.

The Hair of the Dog 5K will feature age-group awards and finisher medals, but also recognition for best formal wear and achievements by weight class. Hupp said runners can be spotted wearing pajamas, boas or tutus, while others run with their dogs, which may also be dressed up for the occasion.

The race course will be different than the Blue Talon Bistro Turkey Trot, which Mettle Events also organizes, and the event will conclude with a celebration at DoG Street Pub.

Hupp said she pitched Hair of the Dog in March to First Night Williamsburg, a winter festival that focuses on family-friendly, alcohol-free entertainment for New Year’s Eve. Mettle Events and First Night are promoting each other’s events and emphasizing their shared mission.

“Every [Mettle Events] event is family-oriented and we feel strongly about that, and First Night was a good mix,” Hupp said.

Grover Lewis, First Night’s vice president for development, said the festival is excited to tap into Mettle Event’s network of 95,000 event participants. He said 4,500 people came out to last year’s First Night and he’s looking to bring out even more this year.

“We’re really working hard this year to try to move that attendance back up for First Night. One of the ways is with this promotion with Hair of the Dog,” Lewis said.

Hupp and Lewis agreed promotion of both events could encourage tourism from New Year’s Eve through the holiday weekend.

“We’re very excited to be working with everybody in Williamsburg,” Hupp said. “I think once people see [Hair of the Dog], they’ll catch on really quickly and hopefully it will become a tradition for many families to go to Williamsburg, stay the night, tour Colonial Williamsburg. I think it’s a win-win for everyone.”

In an email to WYDaily, Karen Riordan, president and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, wrote the race and the festival complement winter offerings in the Historic Triangle, including ice skating, holiday shopping and more.

“I think both of these events give visitors yet another reason to visit the destination during a time not traditionally associated with a trip to our area,” Riordan wrote.

Registration costs $40 for participants who sign up by Thursday and $45 for participants on race day. A one-mile kids fun run will also be offered and registration costs $15 for participants.

All net proceeds from the Hair of the Dog 5K will benefit the R.F. Wilkinson Family YMCA.