We've had some pleasant days this month that were great for an outdoor activity like running, but Monday wasn't one of them.
However, the show must go on and that was the case at Chickamauga Dam where the first meet for the Chattanooga Cross Country League took place.
Skies were clear and temperatures were for sure in the upper 80s, which made for somewhat slower times in all three races.
Despite the less-than-favorable conditions, there were some dandy races where Signal Mountain's Mallory Young and Baylor's Simon Holden were overall winners with times of 21:48 and 16:44 respectively for the double-looped and somewhat hilly 3.
Lucy Whitfield of GPS had the lead for the first two miles as Young was content to stay back and wait until the end was near before making her move.
Young gained the advantage on the biggest hill the second time around as Whitfield faded at the end. Karla Vradenburgh did a great job of sneaking into the mix at the last minute and even had the lead on the downhill stretch leading to the finish line before Young responded to win by a second.
Heritage teammates Caitlin Craft and Sarah Buckler followed with times of 21:51 and 22:03 while Whitfield hung on for fifth place in 22:23.
The finish in the boys race wasn't quite that close, but it was still a dandy to watch.
Baylor's Holden was running in a tight group with East Hamilton's Nick McCormick and Walker Valley's Patrick Shultz for the first loop. Holden and McCormick had created about gap of about 100 yards as they approached the hill the second time as McCormick attempted to push the pace, hoping to create his own gap with Holden.
The idea didn't work very well as the Baylor senior matched McCormick stride for stride until they made the final turn toward the finish with about 200 yards to go. Holden shifted into another gear to win by eight seconds while Shultz was a distant third in 17:33.
Ooltewah's Ben Oates and Baylor's Dillon Clemmer rounded out the first five with times of 18:25 and 18:31, respectively.
Signal Mountain's Young does quite a bit of training on hills, including a challenging route up Shackleford Ridge Road where the high school is located. She was more than ready for the hills on Monday.
"It was extremely hot and most of us just tried to hold on," the 15-year-old sophomore explained after catching her breath.
"I went out with the idea of sticking with the leaders. I've never been in first place before, so I really didn't know how to react. And I didn't know that Karla was so close until the very end. It wasn't as fast as last week, but it was a PR from last year and I'm happy," Young nodded.
Vradenburgh was pleasantly surprised with her results.
"It was a pretty good race as my goal was to stay with teammate Sarah Kate Gartman. Then in the final mile, it was just a matter of who had the fastest finish. I don't think that she (Young) expected to see me that close, but I did a whole lot better than I expected.
"This was my first race of the season and I just wanted to see what kind of shape I'm in," the 17-year-old home-schooled junior nodded.
Holden was the male Runner of the Year in the league last year before finishing second in the state meet. He's worked hard this summer and appears ready for all challengers.
"It was hot out here today, but going downhill was fun," he said while dousing himself with cups of water.
"I took the lead with about 250 yards to go, but I was drained. It was a PR by 16 seconds on this course from last year, but I was hoping to run at least 16:40. I think our split at the halfway point was 8:27, so we ran negative splits. I'm happy with that," he smiled.
McCormick had the course at Baylor all to himself last week when he won by more than two minutes and he expressed afterward that he was disappointed that some of the faster runners were not competing.
He got his wish on Monday.
"I'm pretty happy with my time as I wanted to break 17 minutes and did. I stayed with Simon for most of the first two miles, but I knew he'd be picking up the pace at the end. He just outkicked me in the final stretch," the Hurricane senior explained.
Shultz was a standout for Polk County last fall, but has moved and is now running for Walker Valley. He looked strong in the first half, but faded in the second as Holden and McCormick took charge.
"It started out nice as I passed the first mile in 5:16. Nick caught up and started pushing and my legs wouldn't react. I don't think I tapered enough for this race.
"I'm happy with my time for the first race, but Simon and Nick were just a little bit stronger today," he confessed.
With Craft and Buckler leading the way, the Heritage girls finished first with 35 points while GPS was second with 84.
With Holden leading the way, Baylor had four runners in the top 10 and finished first with 32 points. Northwest Whitfield was second with 86.
Baylor sophomore Wes Nation won the JV race in 20:25 as the Red Raiders claimed the top 10 spots in that race. Holden used it as a warmup as he was fifth in 22:23.
There will be no league race next week, although many of the local high school runners will be at Chattanooga State on Labor Day for the FCA 5K. Still others will gather at Moccasin Bend on Sept. 8 as UTC hosts the PowerAde Invitational.
The next league meet will be held at Woodland Park on Tuesday, Sept. 11.