John Gilpin made it three in a row in the rain at Signal Mountain Saturday morning.
He had claimed victory in both the Raccoon Mountain and Moccasin Bend 10K races in recent weeks before adding his second straight triumph at the Signal Mountain Pie Run, a hilly 6.2-mile race that starts and finishes at the Signal Mountain Athletic Club on Ault Road.
Gilpin was all alone again as he won with a time of 34 minutes, one second while runner-up Joseph Wilson was a distant second in 37:33. Paul Deaton was third in 38:05.
Jennifer Huwe was the female overall winner as she finished fifth overall in the field of 120 runners with a time of 41:49. Kristen Bonsor was the second female and 14th overall in 45:41 while Janis Kelman was the third female in 47:11, which was 17th overall.
Jennifer Funk posted a time of 49:23 for 23rd overall, but she was the biggest winner as she came within eight seconds of her prediction and earned $50 for her accuracy.
Maria Vives claimed the $30 second place after missing by just 12 seconds while Sergio Bianchini had the third-best prediction, off by just 14 seconds.
Rain was falling pretty hard at daybreak when race officials first arrived, but it had slowed considerably for the 8 a.m. start. It was foggy in places and the temperatures were cool, creating almost perfect running conditions for the annual race.
As has been the case in those last two races, Gilpin broke from the starting line and never looked back as he ran alone most of the distance. The 26-year-old physical therapist is starting to wrap up his training for the Chickamauga Battlefield Half-Marathon on Nov. 10, but he was happy with his race on Saturday.
“I just wanted to start out at a comfortable pace and close well. It was a good run as those last two miles are tough,” Gilpin said before anyone else had finished.
“Decent miles at the start helped, but I just had to hang in there at the end. The most important thing is that I got a pie,” he laughed, knowing that virtually every runner received an apple pie from the Bread Basket.
“It’s a tough course with several nice climbs, but there are also some critical downhills. I’ve been working on that aspect of my running as much as anything in recent weeks as that’s where I got killed at Missionary Ridge,” he added.
Wilson is a 22-year-old senior at Dalton State who also works as a kitchen manager for Chick-Fil-A. He had run this race a year ago and suffered at the end after starting out too fast. He wanted to make sure to avoid that mistake this time.
“I just wanted to start slow and work my way up. That seemed to work well as mile five was one of my fastest. The weather was nice and I really like this course as it’s challenging. My goal was a 38:30 and I was somewhat faster than that, so I’m happy.
“I ran with Jeremy Miller for a couple of miles before pulling ahead and trying to imagine me catching John. I’m happy with the results,” he said as rain began to fall a little bit harder. Miller was fourth overall in 38:56.
Huwe is a petite 28-year-old quality control employee of McKee Food who “tastes Little Debbies for a living.” There weren’t any other females where she was running, but that didn’t seem to matter.
“It started out a little fast, but you forget how hilly those next five miles are. I was trying for a personal best, but I missed it by about a minute. I was chasing guys the whole way and finally caught one on that last hill, but it’s nice to be rewarded with a nice apple pie after a good run,” she smiled.
Bonsor is the 25-year-old Director of Recreation and Events at the Terrace of Mountain Creek. She had won the Raccoon Mountain 5K two weeks ago, but Saturday was her first 10K ever and she was thrilled with the experience.
“There were definitely some surprises along the way, but it was a challenging course. The weather was great as the rain kept us cool, but that last hill was horrible,” she said shortly after topping it.
While 10Ks have been the order of business on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule for the past three races, the next one is a bit longer. The Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon and Half-Marathon will be held on Saturday, Nov. 10. There’s also a 5K that day.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)