By Doug Hawley
A record number of nearly 800 runners turned out Friday night for the 10th annual Silver Bell Sprint which started and ended at City Park School in downtown Dalton.
“I’ve been involved in this event the whole time, and it’s the most people that we have had,” said Staci Halyak, director of sponsoring Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Georgia Mountains.
“We’re so happy to have such great support.”
By official count, there were 794 finishers, including 632 in the 5-kilometer race and 162 for the 1-mile event. They enjoyed brisk running conditions with temperatures in the 50s.
“We always try to beat the year before, and we were able to do that again,” Halyak said. “We had 736 last year.”
According to the director, the event netted some $10,000 for BBBS.
In the feature running competition, 18-year-old Isaac Pacheco — the North Murray High senior stalwart — repeated as the overall winner. His latest time of 16 minutes, 14 seconds — a 5:14 per mile pace — was almost identical to a year ago.
“I had a 4:55 first mile and felt really good while keeping the lead,” Pacheco said. “It was a satisfying race. It was my first race since the state cross country meet which was disappointing (41st overall finish). I would not call this redemption.”
Dean Thompson, 47 of Cohutta, a two-time Dalton Half Marathon race winner, was second overall in 16:36.
“Isaac got too far ahead of me at the start,” Thompson said. “He has the young legs. I was just trying to peak for my next race (Dec. 9 in a national 10-kilometer cross country meet at Lexington, Ky.).”
Ryan Shrum, 45, of East Ridge, Tenn., rounded out the top three in 17:54.
Top female honors went to Julie Simmons, a 30-year-old elementary school teacher from Chattanooga. She clocked 19:35 while averaging 6:19 per mile.
“This was my fourth time here, but it’s the first time that I’ve ever been an overall winner,” an elated Simmons said. “I was much slower here last year. I’ve been running since I was 15 years old. I ran track my freshman and sophomore years in high school (Gordon Lee). I regret that I didn’t run my last two years.”
Shelley Taylor Rickett, a 25-year-old Northwest Whitfield assistant distance running coach who starred as a runner at Northwest and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, took runner-up honors in 21:37. Nayeli Jacobo, a 17-year-old Murray County senior, finished third in 21:53.
Jacobo completed a rare double-feature, winning the female 1-mile race honors in a time of 5:33. Cade Gabriel, 13, paced the field in 5:30 to win the 1-mile race overall.
The Carpet Capital Running Club coordinated the logistics. Complete results will be posted today on the CCRC website at www.carpetcapitalrunning-club.com.