Dick Beardsley Entertains At Chattanooga Track Club Annual Awards Banquet

Jessica Marlier, Dean Thompson Among Runner Of The Year Honorees

Saturday, January 18, 2014 - by John Hunt

Several hundred members of the Chattanooga Track Club gathered at the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Chattanooga Saturday night for the annual awards banquet where Jessica Marlier and Dean Thompson were honored as the overall Female and Male Runners of the Year.

It was a festive occasion where various members of the running community were recognized and honored and where the wonderful level of physical fitness that running creates was celebrated.

it was even more special that a former world-classed marathoner named Dick Beardsley was the featured speaker.

Younger runners probably don’t remember Beardsley, but it was he who had that incredible dual with Alberto Salazar at the 1982 Boston Marathon.  The former Minnesota resident lost that race by a scant 1.6 seconds, but it has been billed as America’s Greatest Marathon where these two runners withstood sweltering temperatures in the 80s to finish one-two in a race that's held on the third Monday in April for the past 117 years.

Beardsley, who still holds the course record for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota  with a 2:09:36, is still an active runner, despite having both knees replaced several years ago.  The slender fellow, who will celebrate his 58th birthdayon March 21, now lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Jill and their three sons.

Beardley, who became world-famous for running a marathon he didn’t win, still logs between 70-80 miles each week, but he can only dream about that day almost 32 years ago when he went toe-to-toe with the American record holder and came within a couple of steps of winning on the world’s biggest stage.

“I’m still serious about my running, but I can’t even dream about how fast I used to run,” he said before the banquet began, noting that his time of 2:08:52.6 at Boston in ’82 is still his personal best.

“When I go to bed at night, I can’t wait until the next morning when I go out for my next run.  I still love to compete,” he said as the tone of his voice rose in excitement as he thought back on his many positive running memories.

Even after 32 years, the memory of that Boston race is still extremely vivid in his mind.

“I woke up that morning hoping that it would be overcast and drizzling, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was 80 degrees for the noon start.  We ran side-by-side the entire way, but I tried to get away from him on the hills.  It didn’t work as I could hear him breathing and I could see his shadow as he was right on my shoulder.

“I couldn’t feel my legs with five miles to go and then with just over  a half-mile left, I got this terrible cramp in my hamstring.  Alberto went flying by me and looked like he might run away with it, but I stepped in a pothole with about a 500 yards to go and the cramp broke free.  That’s when I turned it on and came really close to beating him, but I was completely devastated when it ended.

“I had just run a 2:08 and finished second, which was a personal record by some 45 seconds.  Both of us were so stubborn that we weren’t going to give an inch, but we were never the same after that as we were both extremely dehydrated.  And I’ve never been so sunburned in my life,” he recalled.

“I learned more about myself in those last two minutes.  You can’t ever give up.  It’s about believing in yourself.  I was a nobody at the starting line with guys like Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter and Salazar, but I deserved to be there because I had done the work to prepare.

“Alberto and I both broke the American record that day and that was the first time two Americans had broken 2:09 in the same race.  At the end of the day, I realized that I had given it everything I had and that there was nothing more I could have done to change the outcome,” he nodded.

Since that time, Beardley was involved in a horrific farming accident where his body was crushed and he somehow managed to survive.  No doubt, his level of fitness from all of his running saved his life.

He went through a really dark period in his life following that accident when he had multiple surgeries and eventually got addicted to prescription painkillers.  Miraculously, he survived that as well.

Since that time, he and his wife started the Dick Beardsley Foundation where funds raised from the sale of his books go to help other people with addiction issues.  These days, he’s still clean and will celebrate  17 years on February 12.

This fellow is a remarkable individual who is easy to talk to and one who freely shares his life’s tory, both the good and the bad.  No question, his presence and presentation at the CTC banquet was an inspiration to everyone in attendance.

THE JOE McGINNESS Runner of the Year awards were also presented Saturday night with Jessica Marlier and Dean Thompson taking the top prizes for Open Female and Male competitors.

The CTC will host its first race of 2014 on Feb. 22 when the Scenic City Half-Marathon is held in downdown Chattanooga with the start and finish on the 50-yard line at Finley Stadium.

Listed below are the Runner of the Year award winners for the various categories in addition to the 2013 Volunteers of the Year.


1.       Jessica Marlier

2.       Dianna Leun

3.       Lisa Logan

4.       Sue Barlow

5.       Karin Maucere


1.       Ella Ensign

2.       Ella Hammond

3.       Ava Akovenko

4.       Emma Tennyson


1.       Jenn Stacks

2.       Kiersten Vradenburgh

3.       Andrea May


1.       Jaclyn Beckler

2.       Whitney Allison

3.       Beth Santoro


1.       Pam Nile

2.       Jennie Gentry

3.       Barbara Ensign


1.       Beth Rice

2.       Gwendolyn Meeks

3.       Corinne Henderson


1.       Bonnie Wassin

2.       Sue Anne Brown

3.       Jane Webb


1.       Dean Thompson

2.       Geno Phillips

3.       Ryan Shrum

4.       Charles “Tripp” McCallie

5.       Patrick Hall


1.       Janzen Nile

2.       Jarryd Tennyson

3.       Jivan Taj


1.       Marco Bianchini

2.       Chas Webb

3.       Tim Zorca


1.       Russell Rogers

2.       Alan Outlaw

3.       Adam Burnett


1.       David Moghani

2.       Steven Morrison

3.       Daniel Uson


1.       Mike Usher

2.       Bill Minehan

3.       Ray Kellum


1.       Sergio Bianchini

2.       John Crawley

3.       Joe Axley


1.       Jane Webb

2.       Mark Wisdom

3.       Bridgette Wisdom

4.       John Crawley

5.       Bonnie Wassin

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)

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