Nathan Wanuch has done a lot of running in North Chattanooga
and specifically on parts of the Chattanooga Chase course, so he was real
familiar with the surroundings on Sunday morning when he entered Chattanooga’s oldest race for the first time.
The former UTC standout, who just graduated a few weeks ago
with a degree in Secondary Education, was all alone as he came around the bend
next to Riverview Park as he covered the distance in 26 minutes, 35 seconds.
Payton Miller, who finished as the runner-up at the King of
the Mountain race on Lookout Mountain two weeks ago, was the second finisher
again as he finished 58 seconds behind Wanuch.
Vaughn Rightley was third in 27:54 while Fynn Glover and
Hugh Enicks were fourth and fifth with times of 28:02 and 28:06, respectively.
Jessica Marlier, who was the second female in this race a
year ago, knocked about a minute off her previous best with a time of 28:11,
which was seventh overall.
Keeley Stewart was the female runner-up as she finished 11th
overall in 29:16.
Leslie Gentry was third as she claimed 25th
overall in 32:26 while Jeannette Wilson and Emily Bell completed the top five
ladies with times of 32:57 and 32:58 respectively, which were 29th
and 30th overall.
The race is normally an 8K, which is just short of five miles. Sunday’s race
course was changed just a bit and the leaders took a wrong turn on the way out,
meaning they missed memorable Woodhill Circle, which is the shortest but
steepest hill on the route.
Wanuch didn’t seem to mind the shorter course.
“It was a pretty good race.
I do a lot of training in this area, so my goal was to stay relaxed and
keep a steady pace to get ready for the hills.
I was tired at the top, but happy it was over. I really wasn’t sure what kind of competition
I would have today, but I was hoping to run a sub-27,” the slender fellow who
just celebrated his 24th birthday on May 19 said.
Miller is also 24 and a UTC graduate from 2013 who will
begin his work toward an MBA this fall.
He’s raced against Wanuch before, so he knew that the race would be for
“I knew this course was all about the climb, so my goal was
to keep a good, steady pace going up. I
was in fourth place when we started up, but I caught the next two guys right
after we went over the top and I just tried to hold them off at the end,”
“I’m really pleased with my time today. I was hoping to keep a 5:30 pace, but I know
how strong Nathan is so I let him go from the beginning,” he added.
Marlier, who was also the women’s winner in the one-mile
race with a 5:20, was in the lead pack as the runners made the turn from the
golf course loop and headed up Riverview Road past the Chattanooga Golf and
Country Club. She was a step behind
Stewart as the series of hills leading to Minnekahda began.
“I knew what to expect and it hurt so good,” Marlier grinned
“Mentally, I was better prepared today than last year. I’m a strong downhill runner, so I just
wanted to run smart to the top and have fun.
The pace was somewhat casual at the start, but I cut at least a minute
off from last year, so I’m happy. It was
a doozy, but my goal was to break 30 minutes again and I did,” the 28-year-old
Stewart, like Wanuch, recently celebrated a birthday as she
turned 21 on May 15. She’s an education
major from Winchester. Sunday was her
first time to race on this course and she too was happy to reach the top of
“She pulled me through the first mile and then left me,”
Stewart said in reference to Marlier’s race.
“I had no idea where I was going, but I really liked the
course, especially after we got past those hills. I was relieved when we got to that point,”
There were several other runners who ran this race for the
first time, including 30-year-old Garrett Robinette and Hank McMahan, who’ll be
59 in October.
“It was an awesome race and one of the best I’ve ever done,”
said Robinette after finishing 48th overall in 34:46.
“I was expecting a time near 45 minutes, but my watch says
34:50. It was a hard race, but what a
beautiful course,” the young man who just started running a year ago said.
McMahan lives just up the street and either runs from work
on the Riverwalk or from home in Riverview.
He estimates that he’s run this course more than a thousand times in the
last 20 years, but Sunday was the first time to compete on race day.
“I’ve lived here 20 years and I probably run on this course
twice a week, but I don’t always go up Minnekahda. It was the first time I’ve done this race and
it was fun,” he said after finishing 128th overall in 43:49.
Carter Lynch, a local attorney who brings as much joy and
laughter to a race as anyone, was just thrilled to reach the finish line on the
same day he started.
“I’m not complaining, but that’s not the real course,” he
said when explaining about the mixup on the route. “But I ran the whole way and didn’t have to
walk, so I’m thrilled,” he said after finishing 126th in 43:40.
While Wanuch and Marlier were easy winners in the longer
race, they also took part in the one-mile event.
Joseph Goetz beat Wanuch by a lean as both crossed the line
in 4:37 while Marlier was fourth overall in 5:20.
Goetz was going for the state record for 31-year-old males
and did so with ease, rewriting Chattanoogan Kevin Croft’s old mark of 4:54,
which was set in 2006.
“That was brutal,” Goetz said shortly after finishing.
“Too many Memorial Day festivities, but I feel pretty
good. Nathan set a good pace and I
stayed right behind him, but he must have been tired because I know he can run
faster than that,” he added.
Jane Ensign was the last person to finish the one-mile race,
but she wasn’t bothered a bit as she rewrote the state mark for 86-year-old
women with a time of 21:15, which was much better than the old mark of
Mrs. Ensign, the proud mother of Tim and Pete, now holds the
state mark for 84, 85 and 86-year-old females.
There were 81 finishers in the one-mile race.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)