The 2019 Scenic City Scorcher was literally that in downtown Chattanooga Saturday morning.
This is a blazing fast two-mile race that starts on River Street and runs through totally flat Heritage Landing. This latest race was hot and humid, but it was also super fast as 51 state records were broken, including both overall marks.
John Gilpin was last year’s winner in 9:51 and he came back with the goal of breaking Christian Thompson’s state mark of 9:38, which was set on this same course in 2017.
The 27-year-old physical therapist did exactly that as he crossed the finish line with a time of nine minutes, 29 seconds.
The women’s overall state record was broken as well.
Anna Pasternak, who is in graduate school at Vanderbilt working toward being a nurse practictioner, finished 21st overall with a time of 10:53.12, breaking Emily Bell’s state mark of 11:26, which had also been set in 2017.
There were 172 finishers in Saturday’s race and 51 broke state records. That’s almost 30 percent of the field bettering a former state mark.
While Gilpin was all alone at the finish line, Chase Faudi was the runner-up for the second-straight year with a time of 9:40. Kevin Huwe was third again with a 9:43. All were new records.
While Pasternak was the women’s overall winner, Becca Walter was the runner-up as she claimed 32nd with a time of 11:23. Haley Moody, Jennifer Huwe and Hannah Stockdale followed with times of 11:36, 11:38 and 11:50, respectively, all improving existing standards.
It was indeed an impressive performance overall as the top four finishers averaged faster than five minutes per mile while the top 39 were all faster than six.
“That’s what I wanted and it was fun to get it this morning,” said Gilpin after being informed that his time improved the overall record by some nine seconds.
“I was feeling great at the one-mile mark as I was hoping to average 4:45 per mile. I was right on it, but I could hear the guys behind me in the final stretch. I was a little worried that my legs might close down, but they didn’t. I’m really happy with my time,” the former UTC standout added.
Faudi is a 17-year-old stud who will be entering his senior year as a home-schooled runner. He was hoping to break that state record of 9:38, but he was still happy with a state mark for males his age.
“My goal was to stay with John. I was able to do that for about a quarter mile before he pulled away. I was hoping for the state record and was shooting for even splits,” he said, admitting that he posted a time of 9:30 on the track at the end of cross country season last fall.
Pasternak came to Chattanooga with a group of friends from Nashville. She had a good time – no pun intended – on Saturday morning.
“I’ve never done a two-mile race before and the conditions were not ideal,” she said shortly after completing the distance.
“I just went out and ran as hard as I could. I was hoping to be somewhere between 10:45 and 10:55, so I’m happy with my time,” she smiled.
Walter is a 35-year-old owner of a snack bar company who was with that group from Nashville.
“It was a hard morning for me as I was going for the record. I’m not disappointed but also not super happy. But I got the record and I’m happier now. I was trying to save my energy for the kick at the end, but that didn’t work so well,” she expressed.
Ooltewah’s Jeff Sodemann is a 72-year-old retired physical therapist. He was an outstanding runner in local races back in his heyday some 35 years ago. He broke a state record a year ago with a time of 14 minutes flat. All he had to do this time was beat a time of 15:42 for another record.
He crushed it with a 14:37.
“One of my goals when I retired two years ago was to get back in shape. Humidity was a big factor today, but I’m happy with my time as I was consistent. That was as fast as I could go today.
“I’ve never been a short distance runner as I always preferred the longer stuff, but I’m just happy to still be running,” he nodded.
THE FASTEST TEAM included Pasternak and Walter as its female representatives in addition to Joseph Elsakr, Cormac Carolan and Tyler Boone. Their total time was 52:38 which was seven seconds faster than the team of Kevin Huwe, Ryan McGinnis, Noah Cochran, Jennifer Huwe and Meredith Zinke posted.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)