Outlaw Wins Chattanooga Chase On Memorial Day

Sarah Woerner Finishes 12th As Overall Women's Winner

Monday, May 30, 2011 - by John Hunt

Alan Outlaw was the first to admit that his training this year isn’t what it was a year ago.

He took that into consideration when thinking about this year’s version of the Chattanooga Chase, the oldest and most challenging course on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule.

So much for his pre-race thoughts.

He finished third a year ago in 27:08. His goal on Monday was “about 45 seconds slower.”

Once the 8K race got underway on a muggy Memorial Day morning, all of those “plans” went by the wayside as he finished in first place with a time of 27 minutes flat.

Dean Thompson was the runner-up in 27:19 while Jason McKinney was third in 28:14.

Hugh Enicks finished fourth overall in 28:19 and was the Male Masters winner while Jimmy Swansbrough completed the top five with a time of 29:26, which calculates to a 5:56 per mile pace.

Petite Sarah Woerner won the Raccoon Mountain Trail Marathon in 3:13 on May 21 and she did an 80-mile bike ride this past Saturday.

She must have plenty of energy to burn as she captured the overall title among the ladies with a time of 31 minutes, 39 seconds, which is a blistering 6:22 pace on a hilly course.

While Woerner was 12th overall, Atlanta’s Mary-Gay Li was the runner-up among the women with a time of 33:11, which was 19th overall.

Chattanooga’s Elizabeth Dull was third in 33:23, which was 21st overall.

The Chattanooga Chase is an 8K footrace (just short of five miles) that starts and finishes at Riverview Park.

It includes a scenic route with several challenging hills in the first three miles, including the infamous Minnekahda, which isn’t the steepest, but it’s the longest and it’s the last of the big ones.

Once the runners crest the hill at the top, it’s a downhill sprint for the next mile.

There’s a deceiving little uphill segment right before the runners pass the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club on the return trip while the rest of the way is mostly downhill and flat.

Outlaw took off from the start and never looked back.

Thompson ran with him for the first two miles, but knowing that Thompson’s strength comes on the downhill portions, Outlaw put the hammer down before reaching the summit and Thompson never caught him.

“We were doing a lot more mileage this time last year, so my goal was about 45 seconds slower,” the 33-year-old Outlaw said of his winning effort.

“I was around a 5:30 pace for the first two miles before running a six-minute mile in the third. Dean caught me going up Minnekahda, but I threw in a surge before we reached the top.

“Once I got the lead, I just wanted to hang on. I never turned around to look, but when we were coming around that long curve on Riverview Road, I could see him out of the corner of my eye. I’m very grateful to win today’s race,” the Fast Break salesman added while wiping sweat from his brow.

Thompson is a 45-year-old manager at Shaw Industries in Dalton. His goal was to be under 27:30 and he made it with 11 seconds to spare.

“It was a good one,” he assessed the race when it was over.

“That third mile was awfully tough. Alan and I were together for most of the first two miles, but he pulled away in the third and I never could close the gap. This was my first time on this course and it was kind of fun.

“I liked those last two miles with all of the downhill. If I had known that Alan was thinking about where I was, maybe I should have put forth a little more effort to catch him,” Thompson smiled.

McKinney is the 34-year-old assistant principal at Signal Mountain High School.

There are plenty of hills for him to train on near the new school, but there’s nothing quite like the series of hills at the Chattanooga Chase.

“I’m just trying to get used to the heat. This is my second time here and it’s a frustrating race because it’s impossible to get into a rhythm.

“My goal was to hang on as long as I could. Going up Minnekahda is where I lost contact,” McKinney added.

Woerner is a 21-year-old graduate student at UTC who’s majoring in exercise science.

She normally does more ultramarathons on trails, but she thoroughly enjoyed her first experience with Chattanooga’s oldest race.

“All of the hills take a toll on you, but Minnekahda is the longest and steepest hill of any road race in this area. My goal was to make it to the top and hold on.

“It was a great course and a nice atmosphere with all of the neighbors out along the way. The hills worked to my advantage, but I really enjoyed the run today and I’ll definitely come back next year,” Woerner said.

There were 222 finishers in Monday’s race.

Patrick Hall was the defending champion with a time of 26:30. He was present for Monday’s race, but he did not participate.

(Please feel free to email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net with any comments concerning this story or possible suggestions for others.)

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