Cheeseman, Peeples Win Missionary Ridge Race

First Timers Impressive In Challenging Event On Saturday At Bragg Reservation

Saturday, August 6, 2022 - by John Hunt

There are a couple of things you can just about be guaranteed of when you enter the Missionary Ridge Road Race.

Most of the time, it’s going to be hot and humid.  Every now and then, cooler weather prevails, but that’s more the exception than the rule.  And secondly, runners are going to be faced with one of the most challenging courses for any race on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule.

The uphill segments challenge the most fit runners while the downhills reward you for your hard effort of going up.  There are very few flat spots on this run that starts and finishes at Bragg Reservation.

The 49th running of this popular race was held on Saturday with the overall winners being a couple of outstanding college runners who had never run this race before.

Carter Cheeseman, a bearded 21-year-old runner who is getting ready to enter his senior year at the University of Notre Dame, was the overall winner as he covered the 4.7-mile course in 24 minutes, 29 seconds as he averaged 5:13 per mile for the distance.

Madisyn Peeples, a 24-year-old speedster who did her college running at the University of Kentucky but is now a third-grade teacher at Wallace A Smith Elementary, was the class of the women’s field as she averaged 6:17 in posting a time of 29:28, which was sixth overall in the field that totaled 171 finishers.

Xian Campbell and Marisa Kimple both led for the first half of the race, but faltered somewhat on the way back and had to settle for the runner-up award, Campbell finishing in 25:50 and Kimple in 30:54, which was 12th overall.

Dean Thompson, Zach Buffington and Jack Sullivan rounded out the top five men with times of 27:14, 27:45 and 28:02 while the remaining top five ladies included Juanita Chalmers in 33:43, Janis Kelman in 35:13 and Karen Harr in 35:21.

Cheeseman is the son of Ken and Cathy Cheeseman, both former winners of this race.  Carter will be heading to South Bend in the next few days as he enters his final season for the Fighting Irish.  He’s spent most of his college career on the injured list, so he’s keeping his fingers crossed that he will be injury-free this last time around.

“I really didn’t know what the competition would be like today, but Xian and I were together for most of the first two miles.  We passed one mile in 5:13 and I decided to pick it up a little and that’s when I put some distance between us.

“I was looking over my shoulder the whole time and was doing fine until I got the last hill at four miles.  It got me a little bit as that was a brutal climb at the end.  This is my first time to run this race and my parents had told me about it, but it was even more challenging that I expected.

“But I’m in the middle of a 90-mile week and I feel really good about today’s race.  And I’m confident that this will be my year at Notre Dame,” the English major concluded with a smile.

Campbell is a slender 19-year-old who will be heading to Johnson City to run track and cross country at East Tennessee State after graduating from Baylor in May.  He broke from the starting line and led the way for most of the way out before Cheeseman caught him.

It was a race for second place on the way back.

“I went out fast as I didn’t know who he was at first,” Campbell suggested in a quiet tone.

“I wasn’t expecting the hills to be such a factor, but he pulled ahead about time time we turned around and he just kept pulling away on the way back,” he added.

While Cheeseman is 21 and Campbell just 19, Thompson will be 57 on Sept. 11.  He’s been a competitive runner for most of his life and quickly admitted afterward that Saturday was one his best days on this course in a number of years.

“I had a really good day as this was my fastest time in the last eight years.  I was hoping to break 28 and was closer to 27, so things went really well for me.  When I caught Zach (Buffington) at the three-mile mark, that really gave me a big boost as he’s a better runner than me,” the Run For God executive explained while runners continued crossing the finish line.

Peeples liked what she experienced in her first race on this course.

“I felt pretty good for the first half, but it was tougher on the way back.  I had chased the young girl (Kimple) for the first couple of miles, but was feeling good, so I just went for it.

“It was hot and I jus kept pouring water down my face, but was a nice course and the people along the way were awesome.  It’s been a long time since I entered a road race, but I’m glad I came today,” she nodded.

Kimple is a 16-year-old junior at Armuchee High School in Rome who is getting ready for cross country.  She too was running this race for the first time.

“It was a little hillier than I expected and I went out a little too fast.  I’ve been training pretty hard this summer and I’m ready for cross country.  When the girl passed me, I thought about trying to stay with her, but I couldn’t maintain that pace,” she smiled.

Sergio Bianchini claimed the Arnold Godwin Award for being the oldest participant.  Sergio is now a youthful 81, but acts like he’s 31.  He finished Saturday’s race with a time of 45:17 and was 87th overall.

Ryan Shrum served as the race director for the eighth straight year.  Everything seemed to unfold without incident and he was just happy to get through another big event.

“It’s been a great day as we had a good turnout and nobody got hurt.  There were a lot of new faces today and that always makes me happy.  Things can get tense at times, but I’m always glad to get another one behind me,” he added.

Matthew Studholme celebrated his 59th birthday on Saturday.  He’s a member of the CTC’s Timing Team and does a great job making sure all the results are correct.  He tried to tell everyone that he was just 29, but we all knew different.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)


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