Geno Phillips and Ashley Evans were overall winners in the annual Scenic City Half-Marathon, which was held in downtown Chattanooga on Saturday morning.
Neither of them were seriously challenged as Phillips crossed the line next to Finley Stadium in one hour, 14 minutes and 27 seconds while Evans finished 11th overall with a time of 1:25:14.
Phillips beat runner-up Andrew King by 3:16 while Evans margin of victory over female runner-up Julie Simmons was 4:59.
Alan Outlaw was third overall in 1:18:25 while Hugh Enicks claimed fourth overall and first in the masters division with a time of 1:18:46, which also broke a Tennessee state record.
Aaron Ainsworth completed the top five with a time of 1:19:42.
While Evans and Simmons were one-two among the ladies, Mindy Williford outlasted Dianna Leun for third with Williford finishing 38th in 1:33:07 while Leun was right on her heels, finishing 39th in the field of 577 finishers with a time of 1:33:11.
Kimberly Humphries was the fifth female as she crossed the line in 1:34:06, which was 41st.
Jacob Bradley beat Jack McGinness to win the 5K as Bradley recorded a time of 16:37, which was six seconds ahead of the runner-up. Hunter Hall was third in 17:21.
Emily Lasater was the female 5K winner as she finished seventh overall in 20:18. Jaydene Reardon was ninth overall and second among the ladies in 22:06 while Beth Santoro was third in 22:54, which was 14th among the 298 finishers of the shorter race.
The streets were wet from an earlier rain when the races began, but the temperatures were about perfect with overcast skies. The humidity may have been a little higher than desired, but other than that, conditions were just about perfect.
Phillips had recorded a time of 1:12:01 in Dalton back in October as he prepared for the Rocket City Marathon. He didn’t run as fast in Chattanooga on Saturday, but he didn’t need to as he finished all alone in first.
“I just tried to maintain a steady pace. I had some company for the first two miles, but they backed off after that. I’m never happy with my time as I always want to run faster, but it’s hard to get in a rhythm when you’re running by yourself,” the 41-year-old Social Studies teacher at Brown Middle School explained.
“This isn’t an easy course with the stairs and lots of turns, but at least I didn’t make a wrong turn today,” he said, referring to the 2011 race when he went the wrong way and ended up second.
King is also a middle-school teacher from Anderson, S.C. He’s 24 and fast, although he hasn’t been logging the number of miles he would have liked.
“All of my training is with my high school girls cross country team. I haven’t really put in a lot of miles preparing for this race, so I wasn’t expecting much. My cousin Catherine is running her first half today and that’s why I came.
“I ran with Hugh and Alan for the first half before I pulled away. It was a nice course, but that stretch between eight and 10 miles was tough,” he said, referring to the hill going up Battery Place after passing Manker Patten.
Evans is a petite 26-year-old graduate student at Lipscomb who is majoring in Exercise Science. She currently logs around 80 miles a week as she prepares for the Country Music Half-Marathon in April.
“I’m happy with my race today as I had a lot of fun. I really didn’t have a goal, but my boyfriend was running the 5K. I loved the course and that hill wasn’t too bad. It was nice running along the river. I hope to set a personal best in Nashville,” she said, noting that her previous bet was a 1:22:40.
Enicks is training for the National Indoor Championships for the 3000 and mile in four weeks, but he wanted a little speedwork with company on Saturday and that’s exactly what he got. He also broke the state record of 1:19:04, which was his main goal.
“It was a good run. Alan and I tried to maintain a six-minute pace, so it was nice and smooth. I’m ecstatic to get the record as that was the plan for today. I just tried to crank it as hard as I could in that last mile, but my legs got a little heavy toward the end,” the 53-year-old ROTC instructor explained.
Bradley and McGinness had quite a race in the 5K, but it was Bradley who finally prevailed.
“It was a good race as Jack came up beside me and took the lead about the halfway point,” the 22-year-old Bradley explained.
“My plan was to run hard today and see what I could do, but I took the lead for the last time with about a half-mile to go and I didn’t look back,” the Chattanooga State student added.
McGinness is the 20-year-old grandson of the late Joe McGinness, who was a great long-distance runner for many years. He’s currently majoring in English at the University of Georgia and he was ready to put the hammer down Saturday morning.
“It was a hard race for me. Jacob led part of the way before I took the lead on the way back. He passed me for the second time toward the end and pulled away at that point. That sort of broke my spirit, but he deserved to win today,” McGinness said with a smile.
Caleb Morgan and Rebecca Greenwall were the defending champions in the half-marathon and neither were present on Saturday to defend their titles.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)