October 17, 2010

Tight finish

Thompson wins sprint to the line

Chris Whitfield

— In the battle between two of the area’s best runners, the winner of Saturday’s inaugural Dalton Half Marathon didn’t think he would be taking home the trophy.

Cohutta’s Dean Thompson said that in distances such as the 13.1 mile course that runners traversed through Dalton, the win usually goes to Manuel Ferrer.

But under near perfect conditions as he rounded the bend and headed for the start/finish line in front of the Whitfield County courthouse in downtown, Ferrer wasn’t the one putting the pressure on Thompson.

Thompson won the sprint to the finish, nipping second-place finisher Victor Breedveld by 12-hundreths of a second to win the first ever half marathon in Dalton with a time of 1:16.14.

“Usually Manuel wins these things and I finish second,” Thompson said of Ferrer, who finished fourth overall. “It was a wonderful course. We’ve got the 10-mile race coming up here in December, but having something like this at this time of the year is just fantastic.”

Thompson was one of 972 registered participants in the half marathon, 5K race and the 1-mile “fun run.”

It was the second win of the fall for Thompson, who won the Unity Run 5K in Calhoun in September. But with a much longer distance and on a course that had never been run before, Thompson said he knew he faced a steeper challenge.

But he liked it.

“I enjoyed the course a lot,” Thompson said. “It is rolling hills and nothing too tough, but it was an honest course and an honest test of the runners. It was as original as any race that I have ever raced in.”

For Dalton’s first half marathon, Thompson said he expects the event to grow and grow.

“I think once the word gets around how well-run this was, we will be bringing in a lot more runners from across the Southeast next year,” he said.

Race director David Sanders was also happy with the organization and smoothness for a first-time race.

“I was exceptionally pleased,” Sanders said. “The police department and the volunteers were absolutely phenomenal. We had plenty of volunteers, and everything went exceptionally well. I spoke to a lot of runners who have run a lot of races, and a lot said that it compared favorably with what they have run in the past.”

Particpants in the 5K numbered 507 runners according to finishers listed in the official results. Nearly 350 runners raced in the half marathon.

Emily Hardin of Huntsville, Ala., was the top female finisher with a time of 1:27.24, while Cohutta’s Dee Goodwin was the second-place female and the winner of the Women’s Masters division.

Dalton teenagers Josue Limas and Natalie Williams were the male and female winners of the 5K race, with Limas clocking a time of 19:32 to win over Dalton’s Jason Denson by more than a minute.

Williams, 15, was the lone female in the top 20, winning with a time of 22:57.

Cohutta’s Paige Watts was the second-place female finisher with a time of 24:14.