John Gilpin Wins Raccoon Mountain 10K Saturday

Andrea May Wins Women's Division In Tough, Challenging Race

Saturday, September 23, 2017 - by John Hunt

John Gilpin had done some training runs a few years back atop Raccoon Mountain, but he had never raced there.

He had his first experience with a race there on Saturday morning and he finished in his usual spot, first place overall with a time of 35 minutes, 18 seconds in the annual Raccoon Mountain 10K.

John Sillery was second overall in 36:29 while defending champ Dean Thompson was third in 38:11.

Andrea May was the overall female winner as she covered the scenic, but challenging, 6.2-mile course in 44 minutes, 51 seconds as she finished 14th overall.

Juanita Chalmers was the runner up as she was 16th overall in 46:39 while Kristen Curtis was the third female and 17th overall in 48:46.

Chas Webb was the overall winner in the 5K with a time of 20 minutes, 52 seconds as he beat runner-up Patrick McGinnis by 17 seconds.

Stephanie Maurer was the female winner as she claimed third overall in 21:51 while Keri McKay was the second woman and fifth overall in 23:18.

This Raccoon Mountain race is certainly one of the most scenic on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule, but it’s also one of the most challenging.

It all starts and finishes at the Laurel Point recreation area, but there’s a long climb in the first mile before runners get to the perimeter around the reservoir. 

The 5K course is an out-and-back affair while the 10K goes around the rim and includes two significant hills in the first half.  The last 3.1 miles are mostly flat and downhill.

Gilpin is a 25-year-old Nashville native who was really outstanding in track and cross country for the Chattanooga Mocs.  The slender Gilpin isn’t doing the long training weeks like he once did, but he’s in his final year of physical therapy school and that’s taking more of its share of his spare time.

Nonetheless, it was all a matter of racing for second place when he stepped to the starting line.

“I’ve done some long runs up here before, but today is the first time I’ve ever raced up here,” Gilpin said, barely breathing hard shortly after he crossed the finish line.

“I haven’t been doing as much training as I’ve done in the past, but I just wanted to come up here today and run the best I could.  It was about what I had hoped for, but I gave myself a chance to recover after those long hills and that helped,” he added.

Sillery is an emergency room doctor who works for Erlanger in Dunlap and Pikeville.  He’s done quite a bit of biking on Raccoon Mountain, but Saturday was his first experience in a foot race.

He was overall quite happy with the results.

“It was tough,” he began after taking a swig of water shortly after finishing.

“I was starting to close in on John until we got to the first hill and that’s when he just took off.  Overall, I pushed hard the whole way and it was a challenging course.  I used to hate hills, but I’m stronger now and they don’t hurt as bad.

“Time really isn’t relevant on a challenging course like this, but I was really excited to see my time as I approached the finish line for such a tough course,” Sillery nodded.

May is a 31-year-old nurse practitioner who has lived in Chattanooga for the past four years.  She’s currently training for the Savannah Marathon in November, so she was more interested in a good workout than a great time.

She got both on Saturday.

“I really wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did as I was just running how I felt this morning.  The hill a the three-mile mark was rough, but I tried to make up for lost time on the downhill.

“My goal today was to run a good race and to run to the best of my ability.  Now I’m getting ready to head to Atlanta with a friend for a music festival, but this is a great way to start my day,” she added with a smile.

It had been a few years since Webb was close to winning a race, but he was sure to not make the same mistake as last time when he got outkicked at the finish.

“We were running neck-and-neck the whole time, but I told myself when we got to the final quarter mile that it was now or never as I didn’t want to get outkicked again,” the former Chattanooga Track Club president now civil engineer for Hamilton County expressed shortly after finishing.

“I haven’t been doing as much running lately as I’ve been busy with work, but 20:52 is a really good time for me.  And there’s no place else in this area when you have such a scenic place to run as it’s really beautiful watching the sun come up over Chattanooga,” he added.

Proceeds from Saturday’s races benefit the Jasper Middle School.

The next race on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule is the Moccasin Bend 10K on October 7.  Unlike Saturday’s Raccoon Mountain event, the Moccasin Bend course is flat as a pancake and a perfect place for setting personal records.

(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)



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