Nathan Wanuch Wins 48th Chattanooga Chase Sunday Morning

Joseph Goetz, Jane Ensign Set Records In One-Mile Race

Sunday, May 25, 2014 - by John Hunt

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 second place.

“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,” Miller explained.

“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 afterward.

“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 teacher added.

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 Minnehahda.

“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,” she nodded.

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 25:37. 

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


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