Dalton Half Marathon

August 7, 2010

Doug Hawley: Ex-Bruin takes runner’s high to extreme heights

One Dalton native’s main obstacle while training for the first Dalton Half Marathon, which is scheduled for Oct. 16, is not the excessive heat that most people encounter, a subject addressed in last Sunday’s column.

“I know well the struggles of running in the heat as you discussed in today’s article,” 1959 North Whitfield High graduate Gary Ray wrote from Fairplay, Colo.

“Here I live about 10,000 feet above sea level. My problem is not heat but enough oxygen for long and hilly runs. Hopefully, October in Dalton will not be so hot that maybe I can make the transition from cool, high altitude running and get through the half marathon.”

Many world-class runners train in the high altitude of Colorado to develop incredible endurance. With mid-October in Dalton anticipated as much cooler than now, Ray might be better off than many lowland participants.

“A lot of the elite runners in Colorado are in the Boulder and Colorado Springs areas, which are moderate elevations beginning at 6,000 feet,” Ray wrote. “I believe that (1972 Olympic marathon champion) Frank Shorter still lives in Boulder, but not sure. Colorado Springs is the headquarters for the USA Olympics Training Center.

“I know no elite runners personally, but am impressed by many I encounter running effortlessly at this altitude.”

According to Ray, Fairplay, Colo., was founded as a gold mining town in the 1860s. Its history is celebrated each July with a runner and burro team competition.

“The runner and burro team up to run 27 miles together from Fairplay to a 13,000-foot pass and return,” Ray explained. “The burro is on a lead held by the runner. Imagine a marathon that goes up 3,000 feet on rough, rocky trails at these elevations, and you get the idea of the kind of athletic runners the burros and runners are. They usually finish in about 5 1/2 hours.”

Before feeling sorry for the 69-year-old Ray and any high altitude problems faced, consider his follow-up communication.

“I know that you guys are in a tremendous heat wave at this time,” he wrote. “Not rubbing it in, but the temperature outside my house now is 47 degrees. I hiked near Vail today, and the temperature was not above 65 degrees. Now you know why I spend the summer in Colorado.”

Although he’s been into distance running for some years, that was not the case in Ray’s school days. He was the Southeastern Conference’s 100-yard dash champion while running track at Auburn University.

If distance runners are not accustomed to the high altitude, they may face problems. Consider the 1968 Olympics at Mexico City, where many runners crashed, including several from the U.S. (However, at the same Olympics, American Bob Beamon shattered the Olympic long jump record with an amazing leap of 29 feet, 2 1/2 inches, more than 2 1/2 feet better than the previous mark.)

In a similar vein on the Major League Baseball scene, what pitcher would want a trade to the Colorado Rockies? Home run statistics at their stadium are always inflated.

College football coaches for years have faced the dilemma on traveling to high-altitude sites. Do you arrive early for acclimation or get there as late as possible before the oxygen factor strikes? Georgia runs into this question Oct. 2 on a visit to Colorado. The adaptation no doubt will be a key for coach Mark Richt’s Bulldogs.

n While Colorado is a long way from Georgia, one outstanding local runner, Adam Dodson, was due to be much farther away this weekend in Gambell, Alaska. Dodson, 26, has moved there to join his fiancé, Ashley Watson, a instructor at John Apangalook School.

“This will be her second year there as a second grade teacher,” Dodson said. “I have been out there a couple of times. I have applied for a health care position in the village. I’ll be a full-time substitute teacher. We’ll be coaching cross country together. It will be my first time to coach.”

Dodson said the tiny school has a few more than 200 students from pre-K through grade 12 in a town of 700 people on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea.

The 2002 Northwest Whitfield High graduate has won several overall area road races, including the 2009 Coulter Hampton 5-K memorial race at Fairmount in Gordon County. Watson was a distance runner at Walker Valley High (Tenn.).

“We’ll only be 30 miles from Siberia,” Dodson said. “There shouldn’t be many distractions.”

This is the seventh in a 16-part instructional series leading up to the Oct. 16 Dalton Half Marathon. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, was a top 10 percent finisher in five Boston Marathons between 1976 and 1981. You can write to him at Dhawley@optilink.us.

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Dalton Half Marathon
  • Time to roll out the red carpet

    Organizers are expecting nine states to be represented Saturday at the fourth annual Dalton Red Carpet races, where the action — which starts and finishes downtown — will include a half marathon, 5K and 2K.
    “I feel sure that it’s the most states that we’ve had represented for this event,” said co-race director Rick Little. “It’s become so well-known. People outside our area know that it’s a quality event.”

    October 25, 2013

  • Run back for concert downtown

    Get ready to rock with the Austin, Texas-based band Fastball at the Saturday night concert following the Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon/ 5K/2K races and the Liberty Tree Festival in downtown Dalton.

    October 25, 2013

  • Half marathon male winner.jpg Red Carpet Half Marathon: Phillips outkicks the field

    Isaac Pacheco stuck with Geno Phillips for around half the race.
    Then the Chattanooga resident “broke” the North Murray High senior.
    Phillips was the first person to cross the Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon finish line in downtown Dalton on Saturday morning, running the 13.1-mile race in one hour, 12 minutes, 1 second.

    October 7, 2012 1 Photo

  • Chris Stephens: Ready for a good run

    The best part about running your first half marathon? Finish the race and you automatically set a personal record.

    October 3, 2012

  • s-MartinezFamily1-3x-col.jpg Racing runs in this family

    If officials for Saturday’s Dalton Red Carpet races are looking to award a family for having the most participants, a local contingent rates as quite a favorite.

    October 11, 2011 1 Photo

  • Runners can try out half marathon course

    Area runners are invited to help test the reconfigured course for the second Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon, 5K and 2K event, which is scheduled for a downtown start and finish on Oct. 15.

    June 7, 2011

  • 5k 3 mlh.jpg Tight finish

    October 17, 2010 1 Photo

  • Doug Hawley: Firsts not only bests

    October 17, 2010

  • 5k 12 mlh.jpg Perfect day for a race

    They came mostly from the Southeast and a few from as far away as Colorado and South Dakota. Some ran Saturday’s half marathon for the first time, while one Dalton podiatrist used it as a tune-up for the real Marathon race in Greece later this month.

    October 17, 2010 1 Photo

  • Dalton Half Marathon2010.jpg Day of distance near

    Lauren Sain was already planning to run a half marathon in a city halfway across the country when she saw an advertisement for one in her own backyard.
    On Saturday morning, Sain will find out how far her training has taken her in preparation for the first Dalton Half Marathon, which will also serve as her first attempt at a distance race beyond a 5K.

    October 14, 2010 2 Photos