Gilmer Women's Marathon Winner After Hamilton Disqualified

Overall Chickamauga Winner DQed Following Saturday's Race

  • Monday, November 10, 2014
  • John Hunt

Do you remember when Rosie Ruiz was honored as the female winner of the Boston Marathon back in the early 80s, only to be disqualified the next day when questions arose concerning the overall results?

Canada's Jacqueline Gareau was declared the winner and given the laurel crown on her head, but everyone in Boston had gone their separate way by the time that decision was made.

It appears that there was a similar situation on Saturday in the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.

Tabatha Hamilton, a 31-year-old woman from Trenton, Ga., crossed the finish line at Barnhardt Circle with an apparent winning time of 2:55:39, but several questions came up later when those results were announced.

Hamilton had a split at the 13.1-mile mark around 2:06, which would have meant that she would have posted a time of less than 50 minutes for the final half.  We all know that the world record for the half-marathon is just under an hour, so there's no way that could have happened.

Hamilton said late Monday that the timing device was wrong and that her split at the halfway point should have been 1:36 instead of 2:06.  Even if that had been the case, she would have needed a time of 1:19 for the second half.

Again, the likelihood of that happening wasn't real feasible.

After several telephone conversations between race directors Jenni  Berz and Sherilyn Johnson and timing coordinator Trey Stanford, Hamilton was disqualified from Saturday's race and the overall win then awarded to Nashville's Lillian Gilmer, who had finished 25th overall in 3:21:33.

"We knew that her splits just didn't match as we had her time at 2:05 or 2:06 for the half.  That's when we decided to disqualify her," said Johnson late Monday afternoon.

"There's no way she ran Saturday's marathon in 2:55 when her previous three marathons were so much slower," said Berz, referring to the fact that Hamilton's previous best had been 4:50:11 at Chickamauga in 2011.

"It's unfortunate that the overall results are affected by this, but it was a group decision to disqualify Tabatha.  The bottom line is that the Chattanooga Track Club wants to put on a quality race with accurate results.  And we hope that all who participate do so with ethical intentions.

"We always want to give people the benefit of the doubt as timing equipment can fail, but I'm not sure that was the case on Saturday," Berz added.

Hamilton was adamant late Monday that the wrong decision had been made.

"I don't think it's fair as I didn't do anything wrong," she said during a telephone conversation.

"I'm crushed and heartbroken as my name is mud right now.  People have been saying horrible things about me today and I don't deserve it. I don't know why my timing chip didn't read right, but I've been blindsided all day by all the phone calls I've gotten.

"Of all the races, why would I cheat in a local race where everyone knows me.  I had run Chickamauga in 2011 and was really mad about my time, so I had been training hard since that time with this race in mind," she added.

She had a personal best in the 4:25 range at Baltimore a couple of years ago, but she said that Saturday's race was a PR "by six or seven minutes." 

When asked about what her previous best half-marathon time was, she replied by saying, "I can't remember."

Saturday's situation was unfortunate for Hamilton, members of the Chattanooga Track Club and everyone associated with the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.

The final decision has been made and Nashville's Lillian Gilmer has been awarded the overall victory for women with a time of 3:21.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)

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