October 17, 2010

Doug Hawley: Firsts not only bests

— Congratulations to all of you runners who completed the first national Daltlon Half Marathon race Saturday morning.

Your 13.1-mile jaunt was like running from downtown Dalton to downtown Chatsworth.

Too often our society acclaims only the athletic champion as worthy of recognition. Nothing could be farther than the truth in this local event.

All finishers were winners — particularly those runners negotiating the distance for the first time. Distance running is more about personal victories — such as improving times from race to race.

Dean Thompson of Cohutta, age 45, deserves plaudits as the first overall champion.

Yet his 1 hour and 16 minutes on the course might not have been as tough as many people who spent a lot more time running.

That included yours truly. The final mile, which had a slight incline north on Hamilton Street, seemed to take forever.

A left turn at King Street meant only one-tenth mile to the finish next to the county courthouse.

It had seemed like a mirage.

This event debuted quite successfully.

It had a lot to do with outstanding organization.

David Sanders of the coordinating Carpet Capital Running Club served adroitly as local race director. He spent countless hours leaving little to chance.

Dean Reinke was the overall director.

This Floridian obviously knows his stuff as evidenced by coordination of half marathons throughout the country.

Neither officials nor anybody else could have ordered better weather.

At the 8 o’clock start, the temperature on a magnificent morning was a runners’ delight in the 40s and minimum wind.

A good, rolling course had excellent traffic control throughout the race by Dalton Police Department.

Safety never was an issue.

Those many volunteers were vital as they showed their civic pride. Spectators along the route also proved encouraging.

Give laurels also to the numerous sponsors who made it all possible.

Along with spotlighting fitness (also the 5K and one-mile fun run), the community stood to gain some $325,000 enconomically.

That is a needed positive bit of news.  

In the future, it would be good to have updated records of all age groups made available through the entry forms.

Few people have any chance to break overall records, but they could be motivated for something more to their ages.

Look for the Dalton Half Marathon to be bigger and better down the road. It already is off to a terrific start.


Doug Hawley has been a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years. You can write to him at dhawley@optilink.us