Just throw a little prize money into the mix and fast runners from everywhere will show up for a race.
Such was the case on Saturday morning at Moccasin Bend where 132 runners gathered for the fastest and most flat race on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule.
Justus David outkicked Nathan Wanuch for the overall win in the Joe Johnson Mental Health Center Great Pumpkin Run 10K with a time of 32 minutes, 49 seconds.
Wanuch was a second behind.
Jessica Marlier was the female overall winner as she finished 10th overall in 37 minutes, 31 seconds while runner-up Jenn Stocks was 12th overall in 39:24.
Defending champ Geno Phillips was third in 34:27 while Dean Thompson and Hugh Enicks completed the top five with times of 34:43 and 35:51, respectively.
Zamzam Sangau, Dianna Leun and Mindy Williford completed the top five ladies with times of 40:37, 41:37 and 44:59, respectively.
David is a graduate student at MTSU who is from Kenya. He’s pointing toward the Murfreesboro Half-Marathon next Saturday, but he came down to Chattanooga for a quick warmup.
David, Wanuch and Phillips had run together for most of the first half, but by the time they made the turnaround and headed back toward the finish, Phillips was left in no-man’s land.
David and Wanuch both approached the finish line side by side and it appeared they might finish like that before David pulled ahead at the end for the win.
“It was good,” David said in broken English shortly after the race was over.
“I like a flat course, but I’m getting ready for the half next weekend,” the 26-year-old speedster said.
Wanuch is a 23-year-old UTC senior from Toronto whose cross country eligibility is up, but he still has a track season left. He’s been doing his student teaching at Red Bank High School this fall.
“I still have one more track season coming up, so I’m just trying to stay in shape. Justus was a good one to pace off of. I tried to push the pace on the way back, but he stayed right there with me. I just didn’t have enough left at the end,” Wanuch nodded.
Phillips was faster last year, so he felt like he had a bad day.
“I was at least a minute faster last year so I didn’t have a good day today,” Phillips said while changing shoes afterward.
“I ran a steady pace the whole way, but I just couldn’t go any faster at the end. We were together for the first two miles before they started picking it up. I had just enough left to hold off Dean, but I’m getting older,” he joked, knowing that he’s 42 now.
Marlier posted her second personal record for this distance in her last two races. The first came in a heavy rain at Raccoon Mountain two weeks ago. She said that she had been fighting a head cold all week, but that didn’t seem to slow her down very much.
“I’ve been battling a cold all week, so today’s run was sort of a struggle,” the 28-year-old teacher began.
“Regardless of how I felt, I’m happy to get another PR. This is my last fast race before the marathon, but I felt like I had a balloon on my head. It’s still a PR, so I really can’t complain. I think I’d rather run in the rain than with a cold,” she concluded with a smile.
Stocks ran at Berry College where she received her undergraduate degree, but she’s in Chattanooga now at UTC in the Physical Therapy program. She didn’t make the decision to run until late Friday night.
“I knew it was a flat course, but I didn’t decide to run until last night,” the 23-year-old suggested.
“I ran a 40:50 at Peachtree in July, so this is a little bit better. School occupies most of my time these days, but it’s nice to know that I can still run relatively fast. I was about five or six seconds behind Jessica at the turn, but she just kept going from there,” Stocks nodded.
Perhaps the happiest runner in the race was 54-year-old Hugh Enicks, who accomplished both of his goals on Saturday.
“Breaking the state record was my main goal, but I also wanted a top-five finish, so I’m really happy,” he explained later.
Enicks is a nationally ranked masters runner and he’ll be going to Tulsa on Oct. 26 for the U.S. Masters National 15K Championship. Then he’ll come back for the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon on November 9 where he’s hopeful of running somewhere near 2:40.
Enicks broke that state record of 36:39, which had been set by Knoxville’s Jeff Colfer in February 2011.
While prize money was offered for the top three overall finishers for both males and females, there was also money on the table for the top three in the masters, grand masters and senior grand masters. The biggest prize of $500 for a course record went unclaimed.
Tim Ensign set the record of 31:05 back in 1984 while Lanni Marchant has the women’s record of 34:55, which was set in 2011. The 50-year-old Ensign was thinking about that day some 29 years ago, but it was only a thought as he finished sixth overall in 35:53.
Proceeds from Saturday’s race go to benefit clients at the Johnson Mental Health facility with their daily needs.
The Signal Mountain Pie Run is next on the CTC schedule and it’s also a 10K, but it’s no where near as flat as this course.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)