A record number of runners turned out in downtown Chattanooga Saturday morning for the annual Market Street Miracle Mile, a flat and fast one-mile race that was staged by age group and gender.
It was also a record-breaking day for a number of runners as they broke existing Tennessee state records for their respective ages.
Sergio Bianchini is perhaps the most amazing member of this elite group as the 71-year-old speedster covered the distance in 6:24.41, breaking the old mark of 7:19 by some 55 seconds.
He now has the state one-mile mark for males ages 65, 66, 67, 68, 70 and 71.
Other record breakers included Anneli Morrison, who was the overall female winner and 13th overall in the field of 118 runners with a time of 5:19.68. Her time broke her own record of 5:34 that was set on Memorial Day at the Chattanooga Chase.
Evelyn Olson was the oldest participant at 86. The Harrison resident now has the record after crossing the line in 25:37.87. There had been no previous mark for females in that age group.
Hugh Enicks was another impressive performer who would have rewritten the record for 52-year-old males with a time of 5:03.63, which was better than the previous best of 5:10 that had been set by Knoxville’s Greg Johnson in 2010.
Unfortunately, another 52-year old male from Nashville named Mark Carver was also present and the record belongs to him after winning the heat in 4:55.57, which was the fourth best time of the day.
The sixth record to fall went to seven-year-old Octavio Cruz of Chatsworth, who had the 24th best time with a sparkling 5:48.37, which improved the old record of 6:51 by more than a minute.
The race proceeds benefit the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger right here in downtown Chattanooga with money raised being used in the renovation of some 45 patient rooms.
“Many of those rooms have the basic white paint on the walls and they will be repainted with bright and cheerful colors to help the patients feel better. Many of them are there for weeks at a time as they receive cancer treatments and this will help in the recovery process,” said Jenni Berz when asked about where the money will go and how it will be spent.
Calvin Cofield, a 22-year-old Chattanooga State student who lives in McDonald, had the fastest time of the day as he finished his heat in 4:30.13, which was about six seconds off the state record.
While Ms. Olson was the oldest participant, four-year-old Seth Lindley of Dayton was the youngest. He had a wonderful time as he came striding across the finish line in 12:15.84 with a great big smile across his face.
Morrison had a whirlwind week as she was in South Africa with her husband Tommy to renew their wedding vows with her family, who still lives there. She only ran about 20 minutes each day while there, but she was more than ready for the challenge on Saturday morning.
“I was a little tired as we just got back from South Africa on Wednesday. We had gotten married earlier, but we went back to where I was born to have a ceremony there. I didn’t have much time to run while I was there as we were planning the wedding.
“Today, I went out a little fast, which made me hurt a little more at the end. It was a fun event. I had gotten the record earlier at the Chattanooga Chase, but at least today, I didn’t have to run an 8K before I did it,” the 24-year-old assistant coach for UTC cross country and track explained with a smile.
Tommy couldn’t quite match his wife’s time on Saturday, but he certainly wasn’t slow as he finished in 5:39.
While Morrison was the fastest female, Cofield had that honor among the guys. Isaac Pacheco, a 17-year-old high school standout from Crandall, Georgia, was the second-fastest with a 4:47.
Cofield had a specific goal in mind and he met it.
“My goal was to run a 4:30 today. I went out hard, pushed to the max and made it. I had done a speed workout on Tuesday before tapering for the race today,” he explained.
Bianchini finished 39th overall with his 6:24, but he was more concerned about the Chattanooga Track Club members who beat him in the battle for Runner of the Year honors.
One such runner was John Crawley, who served as Saturday’s race director, but took time out to run a 6:09.56.
“I felt like I was still asleep as my legs just wouldn’t go,” Sergio explained.
“I had to slow down midway through the race. There were a lot of fast guys in my race, but I’m pleased with my time. John and I were head to head most of the way, but when I slowed down, he just kept on going,” he added.
That one race for males over 40 was indeed a dandy. Those guys ran their hearts out the entire way.
Carver was first in 4:55 while Tim Ensign and Enicks were next with times of 5:00.45 and 5:03.63, respectively. Ryan Shrum was a step back in 5:07 while Murfreesboro’s Don Poston was next in 5:10.
Ensign had attempted to break the record for his age group at the Chattanooga Chase, but came up short. His time on Saturday was still six seconds away.
“I ran as hard as I could. I guess I should have warmed up more. Maybe it’s just not in the cards. I’m not a great miler and never have been, but it’s always fun to see what happens, he added.
Enicks, like Morrison, had a unique week. He normally logs anywhere from 90-110 miles when he’s training hard, but he only ran about 30 miles this week after sending his son to Afghanistan on Monday.
Enicks was still happy to just be at the starting line.
“Absolutely,” he began when asked if he was pleased with the results.
“Any time you get to race is a great day. I really didn’t know what I had in me today, but this is my fastest mile in several years and I’m thrilled,” the slender Red Bank Junior ROTC instructor explained.
Crawley was another happy person after a record number of participants came to race.
“We had a record number turn out for a fantastic cause and I’m thrilled about that. It was also rewarding to see all the young kids taking part. And the weather was really nice, although it got hot as it got later in the morning.
“But I’m just proud to be part of such a wonderful cause,” he said.
The race started on Market Street and went south before turning right and returning on Broad, finishing just past Big River Grille.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)