Those dedicated runners who gathered at Finley Stadium for
Saturday’s running of the Scenic City Half-Marathon and 5K couldn’t have asked
for better weather.
Temperatures were in the mid 40s with clear skies and lots
of sunshine. Even the wind along
Riverfront Parkway that can be a real pain at times seemed to remain calm for the most
A total of 1,245 runners finished the two events, including
852 in the 13.1-mile race and another 393 in the shorter 3.1-mile test.
Paul Stuart and Sydney Marshall, a couple of really fast
college students, were the overall winners in the longer race while Joseph
Goetz and Betsy Heines were tops in the 5K.
Stuart, a 20-year-old sophomore accounting major at UTC who’s
from Brentwood, totally ran away with the longer race as he averaged 5:29 per
mile in posting a winning time of one hour, 11 minutes and 49 seconds.
Runner-up Jack Findley was exactly three minutes behind
while defending champion Geno Phillips claimed third place in 1:15:53. John Sillery and Ryan Shrum completed the top
five with times of 1:19:55 and 1:20:22, respectively.
Sydney Marshall, a slender 22-year-old senior at the
University of Georgia who’s from Alpharetta, was the class of the women’s field
as she finished eighth overall in one hour, 22 minutes and 27 seconds.
Her margin of victory was even greater than Stuart’s as the
female runner-up Jeanette Wilson finished almost 10 minutes back in 36th overall with a time of 1:32:06.
Sarah Eldridge was the third female in 1:33:38 while Chelsea
Morris was fourth in 1:33:46 and Mindy Freeman fifth in 1:34:51.
The 5K race turned into a family affair as Joseph Goetz beat younger brother Daniel by three seconds with times of 16:04 and
16:07. Hugh Enicks was a distant third
Betsy Heines was the first female in the 5K and 10th
overall in 20:05 while Gracie Pendleton and Jillian Lentz followed with times
of 20:52 and 21:03.
Both races started on the field at Finley Stadium with the
half-marathon taking a right on Riverfront Parkway and going out of town toward
Amnicola Highway. The course turned back
to the riverwalk just past the five-mile mark and came back toward town before going
through the art district and crossing the Walnut Street bridge.
A right turn onto Frazier led to a nice hill coming back
across Veterans Bridge before turning back onto Riverfront and heading back to
Finley for the finish at midfield.
The 5K followed a similar course, but turned around about a
quarter mile past MLK Boulevard and came back to the end.
Stuart was the winner at the Karen Lawrence Run for St. Jude
on New Year’s Eve, but he proved on Saturday that he has the leg speed and
endurance to do well at longer distances as well.
“It was lonely out there, but what a great day to run as the
weather was just perfect,” he expressed shortly after his run ended.
“I’ve never run a half-marathon before, so this is my
personal record, but I just wanted to see what I could do. I just tried to run even splits, but I really
liked the course. There were a few hills
in miles 8, 10 and 11 that were killer though,” he said with a smile.
Findley is a 27-year-old general manager for a crane company
in Jackson, Tenn., whose wife is from Chattanooga.
“I knew there would be a good crowd as this is a popular
race, but I went out faster than I was expecting. I felt good, although I was all by myself
after the fourth or fifth mile. I got a
PR today, but I just kept telling myself to hang in there and not give up the
pace I was on.
“I really felt like slowing down after the third mile as the
course can be deceiving. There are spots
you think are flat when you’re really climbing a hill. But I ran really hard today and I’m happy,”
Marshall and her boyfriend Kyle James made the trek from
Athens just for this race, but they were planning to spend the weekend in
Chattanooga and celebrate her win on Saturday night.
“This has been a fun weekend trip and it was a pretty flat
course,” she said as she took off her left shoe to reveal a bloody sock from a
cut on her heal. “I guess I need to get
some new shoes as they cut my feet.
“I just wanted to be the female overall winner and to get a
personal record. That’s what I did by
more than a minute. I just tried to keep
a consistent pace as long as possible and to push as hard as I could in the
last three miles. I didn’t see any other
women around me the whole time, so I was pretty sure that I was going to win,”
the senior majoring in communications and public health added with a smile.
The two Goetz brothers ran together for most of the 5K, but
older brother Joseph made a move near the end that younger brother Daniel
“It was a good race as I ran with my brother the whole way,”
“We were both surging back and forth and he almost broke me,
but I made my move just before we turned into the stadium and he couldn’t catch
me. He just started running again, so I
probably won’t be able to beat him in a month,” the 30-year-old financial
consultant for TVA explained.
Daniel is a Chattanooga State student who’s working toward
being a physician’s assistant. He too
felt like running with his brother was a worthwhile endeavor.
“He threw in a surge toward the end and I didn’t respond
soon enough. I was hoping to beat him
today, but I just started running again in January. We had a good time out there today,” Daniel
Jeff Stracener is a 57-year-old TVA retiree who has been
running about 35 years. He looks like
Forrest Gump with his long beard and he runs like him too.
“It was about what I wanted today,” Stracener said after
finishing 33rd overall in 1:31:11 and first in the men’s 55-59 age
“It was fun running with the younger guys and I even beat a
few of them. I’d like to break 1:30
again one day, but I’ll have to do more
homework,” he said.
Austin McCowan is an 11-year-old sixth grader from
Cookeville who made the trip to Chattanooga with his father Richard to run the
“I’ve run three or four halves and I was running with my
father before I pulled away at the fifth mile,” he said after finishing 251st
in 1:52:51. His father slowed down a bit
and enjoyed the route as finished a ways back in 1:59:30, which was 356th
Jeannie Gentry just turned 45 on Tuesday and she celebrated
with a personal record in the half.
“I broke two hours today for the first time and I’ve never
felt better. The weather was awesome and
I really liked finishing at the 50-yard line.
This is a PR by at least five minutes, but I felt good the whole way,”
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)