December 2, 2012

Doug Hawley: 10-Miler next on calendar

TUNNEL HILL — When an athletic event can stand the test of time for 25 years, it says a lot for the activity. That’s the case for the annual Carpet Capital 10-Miler, which will celebrate its quarter-century anniversary this Saturday. Varnell Elementary provides the setting for the picturesque action, which begins at 9 a.m.

There have been many great memories over the years. You can expect numerous more in the future because of the anticipated quality leadership.

For those runners who anticipate this annual December action that leads into Christmas, they might feel blessed with a change in the course that brings familiarity — if they’ve been running the race long enough.

“We’re back to almost the original loop course since the Coahulla River Bridge has been repaired, and all of the roads are in good shape,” said David Leatherman — who has done an outstanding job as race director for some dozen years — via the sponsoring Carpet Capital Running Club’s website, “We will still run by the McGaughey Chapel Methodist Church playing the Christmas chimes.”

One distinction this event has achieved in recent years is being Georgia’s only certified 10-mile course. Most of the state’s age group records at that distance have been achieved here. Consequently, it is billed as the Road Runners Club of America’s 10-mile state championship.

“With this state age group thing, we probably are able to attract more serious runners,” Leatherman said. “We always get a lot from the Atlanta area. That might explain why we probably will have double the runners (than for the corresponding) 5K.”

He projected about the same turnout as last year: 200 10-milers and 100 participants in the 3.1-mile run that will take place at the same time.

One big change from the earlier days is no prize money. All participants will run as total amateurs.

Unless an unexpected Olympian arrives, do not expect the all-time record of 48 minutes and 50 seconds to be threatened. That 4:53 mile pace was established by Thomas O’Gara. Alena Palmquest set the female standard at 57:47, a 5:46 pace.

As is the case for many road races, proceeds will go to a worthy cause, in this case the Dalton and Whitfield education foundations.

Leatherman is taking his typical low-key approach to the event.

“No matter what the weather does ... I don’t exactly have control over it like I do, say, course certification ... we’ll have a great time, topping it off with that homemade soup before heading home,” he said in reference to the typical post-race refreshments. “Hope to see you there, and we’ll keep the lights on ... er, I mean the gate open for you.”

n IN THE CARDS: For those of you who consider gambling with cards in foot running action as evil, please digest the entire picture that is the annual Jingle Bell Run, which is set for 6 p.m. on Dec. 13 at City Park School and will include Black Jack competition.

On the CCRC website, David Sanders of the coordinating organization said, “Several decks of playing cards will be left on a retaining wall across the street from the school, and everyone participating will run a lap of approximately 1 mile through downtown Dalton. After each lap is completed, the runner will take one playing card from the deck. The runner may run as many or as few laps as they would like, but they must play every card they pick up. The cards will be used to play Black Jack or 21. Anyone going over 21 will bust and will automatically lose. There will be four winners.”

Winners will receive restaurant gift cards ($75 for first place, $50 for second, $30 for third and $25 for fourth). In the recent past, there was simply a table for winners to select various running-related items, so consider this an upgrade in value.

The winners easily could be the slowest runners in normal races but in this case be able to display the skill (or good fortune) of excellent cards.

In the true spirit of Christmas, each participant is urged to bring an unwrapped toy to donate to Toys For Tots.

Regarding the spirit of eating, everyone is asked to bring either a salad or dessert. The CCRC will provide drinks and lasagna.

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