You can almost be guaranteed of one thing when John Gilpin approaches the starting line of a road race.
Chances are better than average that the former Chattanooga Moc track and cross country standout is going to win.
Such was the case at the annual Signal Mountain Pie Run Saturday morning as the 25-year-old Nashville resident covered a hilly and challenging 10K course in a winning time of 33 minutes, 43 seconds.
John Sillery was the runner-up as he finished in 37:29 while Jeremy Miller was third in 38:35. Joseph Wilson and Tripp McCallie completed the top five with times of 38:41 and 38:44, respectively.
Victoria Winslow was the overall women’s winner as she finished sixth overall with an outstanding time of 39 minutes, one second.
Defending women’s winner Amanda Tate was second among the ladies as she claimed 12th overall in 40:53 while Meg Martz, Andrea May and Lisa Logan followed with times of 44:40, 44:55 and 45:38, respectively.
Jose Polido, a 41-year-old resident of Chatsworth, Ga., finished 14th overall with a time of 41:45, but he was right on the money as he claimed the $50 cash prize for making the closest prediction.
Red Bank’s Michelle Rice was two seconds off her predicted time of 60 minutes even while John O’Keefe-Odom missed his time of 55:00 by five seconds.
But on a day when temperatures were just about perfect, the humidity was low and the view off the brow overlooking the Tennessee Valley spectacular, Gilpin took off from the start, built a big lead early and kept building as he ran alone on one of the Chattanooga Track Club’s most challenging courses.
“It was hard, but I had a good run as I was aiming for 33:15,” the 25-year-old physical therapy student expressed afterward while waiting on the rest of the field to finish.
“I think I’ve run along the brow a few times, but I have never run this particular course. I was hoping to be about 5:20 at the first mile and I was a few seconds off, but I just tried to stay crisp the rest of the way.
“It was a pretty course and the sun coming up was really nice. It was just a great morning for a good run,” he added.
Saturday was also the first time Sillery had run this particular race. He would have been able to follow Gilpin along the way, but the leader was simply too far ahead.
“It was a tough day as this was my first time up here. I’ve ridden my bike up the W Road before and ridden along the brow, but this was the most challenging 10K course I’ve ever run,” the 45-year-old emergency room doctor said later.
“I think I predicted 36:30 and was about a minute off, but I ran hard and got beat by that same fast guy again,” he said in reference to similar results at the Raccoon Mountain 10K on Sept. 23.
“The course description said there were two major hills and I agree with that, but there were many more than that as there wasn’t much flat at any time. There were some incredible views and I’m glad I entered,” he added.
Miller is a 40-year-old project manager for Chattem who was the overall winner in this race two years ago with a time of 38:16. He too was happy with a strong effort on a great day for running.
“I just want to know my time. I predicted 38:15 and feel like I was pretty close, but the temperature was much cooler than it was two years ago,” he explained.
Winslow is a 24-year-old Unum employee who works in customer service. She’s been in Chattanooga for the past 18 months after graduation from Alabama-Huntsville in 2016.
“I have no idea what my time was, but I had a good effort and I’m looking forward to eating that apple pie,” she said in reference to the fact that virtually everyone receives a pie from the Bread Basket.
Tate was 44 seconds faster than her winning time a year ago. She said she hasn’t raced since last year, but she still has that ability to pick’em up and put’em down in a hurry. And for a woman who will celebrate her 40th birthday next week, she hasn’t slowed down much at all.
“It was okay, but I think my time was about the same as last year. We live at the turnaround point and I run on this course quite a bit, so I know what’s coming. That’s not always a good thing,” the physical therapist for Center for Sports Medicine explained.
Polido has run faster times for the 10K distance, but he’s never been a winner. He was all smiles when his name was announced as the winner of the prediction time.
“I’ve run this race the last two years and really love it. I’ve run faster than this in the past, but I’m training for my first Boston Marathon and have been doing longer runs. I wasn’t expecting to win this today,” he admitted.
There were 155 finishers in Saturday’s race.
Tate was present to defend her title, but the defending men’s winner Joseph Goetz was not.
The next race on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule is the annual Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon and Half-Marathon, which is set for Saturday, November 11.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)