It was a record-breaking day for seven individuals in downtown Chattanooga Saturday morning as 126 runners gathered to participate in the Market Street Miracle Mile.
Actually, only six of those records will count because Dean Thompson lives in Georgia and he’s not eligible for a Tennessee record.
Perhaps the most impressive performance came from Jean McHugh-Horgan, a spirited 84-year-young woman from Pikeville, who put her name on the state list with an incredible time of 12 minutes, 23 seconds.
Four of Saturday’s seven records came in the women’s race for those 40 and over.
Forty-four year old Barbara Ensign finished in 6:59.91 to beat the old record of 7:12 while Robbie Tompkins topped the mark for those aged 77 with a clocking of 10:23, which was almost a minute faster than the old record of 11:15.
Horgan’s time of 12:23 was almost 15 minutes faster than the old record of 27:18, which had belonged to Chattanooga’s Jane Ensign. Mrs. Ensign set that record last year at the Chattanooga Chase and she claimed another mark for those aged 85 after breaking her own mark of 23:14 with a 22:28.
Sergio Bianchini broke his age group record for the seventh-straight year as the 72-year-old crossed the line in 6:19, which was substantially faster than the old mark of 6:58.
David Peterson, a 65-year-old fellow from Franklin, posted a time of 6:00.78 to break Bianchini’s mark of 6:09.
There were 10 heats total for the event that began next to the Big River Grille’s parking lot on Market Street. The runners went South on Market before turning right on Eighth Street and going one block to Broad for the trip back to the finish line, which was located by Big River Grille.
Issac Pacheco had the fastest time of the day as he finished in 4:41:61 while 27-year-old Jessica Marlier was the quickest female with a time of 5:25.06.
Dianna Leun and Thompson were the Masters winners with Leun breaking six minutes with a blistering time of 5:59.54 while Thompson tied 26-year-old Robert Bedsole with the second-fastest time in 4:49.
“It’s over and done and I’m so glad,” the 41-year-old Leun said after her race ended.
“It hurt on the way out, but I felt a little better on the way back. I’m happy and I’ll take it,” she explained.
“That was painful,” Thompson admitted afterward.
“My goal was to be the first old guy to finish and to stay in front of Tim Ensign. I was hoping to break 4:50, so I’m thrilled with a 4:49,” the resident of Cohutta, Ga. smiled.
Tim Ensign had the eighth-fastest time with a 5:02, but he was hoping to be a bit closer to the record of 4:53 for those guys aged 50.
“I tried to stay with Dean as long as I could, but it was sort of demoralizing as I watched him pull away. I can’t keep up with these young bucks any longer. There were two Ensigns who broke state records today, but I’m sorry to say I wasn’t one of them” he added.
Horgan was a whole lot happier when she found a chair to sit in after her record-breaking performance.
“I’m okay as long as I can sit down and catch my breath. My grandson Dylan Harper talked me into racing when I was 82, but I’m not used to running on such a flat course. I don’t practice. I just do improvisations,” she said when asked about her training.
Dylan Harper is now a 21-year-old senior at ETSU while older brother Bryson is now the head track and cross country coach at Bryan College.
Tompkins normally does her running on the Brainerd levee. She’s getting ready for her annual trek to Atlanta on July 4 as she and other family members have been running in the Peachtree 10K for the past 31 years.
“I really surprised myself today as I just loved it,” the personable Tompkins said afterward.
Peterson posted times of 5:53 for a mile on two occasions last year. He wasn’t quite as quick on Saturday, but his time was good enough to break the mark for those males aged 65.
“I was hoping to break six minutes, but I’ll take a 6:01,” he said, not knowing that his official time was 6:00.78.
“Those younger guys take you out too fast in the first quarter mile and then you spend the next three-quarters trying to recover. But this was a great race for me and I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said with a smile.
Bianchini may be the most competitive runner in the race and he has the times to prove it.
“It was nothing special today,” he began while talking to Peterson afterward. “I just know that John Crawley passed me in the last quarter mile and there was nothing I could do,” he said.
Jeff Stracener didn’t break any records as he was right at a minute slower than the record-holder for those 56, but he still had an outstanding time of 6:12.04, which was the 40th fastest time on Saturday.
“I was just trying to breathe as those guys are fast,” he said. Stracener knows just a little bit about these shorter sprint races as he won the Cotton Row two-miler in Huntsville a few years back in 10:14.
SATURDAY’S EVENT benefited the T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital Foundation. Monies raised help with full room renovations and the purchase of new beds for some of Chattanooga's youngest patients.
This was the first race in the Miracle Team series and will conclude with the final mile at the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon in November.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)