By Doug Hawley
Daily Citizen Correspondent
Two veteran area runners led a record turnout Thursday for the 24th annual Dalton St. Patrick’s Day road race that started and ended at First Presbyterian Church.
Dalton’s Manuel Ferrer, 39, claimed top overall honors in the two-mile race for the third consecutive year, finishing in 10 minutes and 45 seconds. Chatsworth’s Belinda Young, 41, led the females with a 13:46 clocking.
There were 238 participants on a sun-kissed evening, a total that easily beat last year’s record of 144.
“I’ve won this thing about 13 or 14 times,” said Young, who is a math teacher at Northwest Whitfield High School. “My legs felt surprisingly good after having run three marathons in the past four weeks. I did a trail marathon a week ago in Grand Rivers, Ky. My goal is to run a marathon in every state. I’ve done 22 so far.”
Young, a former standout at Murray County High, used the motivation of 27-year-old Daniel Parson of Dalton to log a better time.
“I was just trying to catch Daniel as I usually do,” she said with a chuckle. “He always says that he’s losing to younger females. I finished just ahead of him.”
Dalton’s Erika Page, 32, finished second for the females.
Ferrer used a spurt on the start of the second mile to finish some 50 yards ahead of North Murray High School sophomore Isaac Pacheco.
“I never get bored with winning,” said Ferrer, a regular winner on the area’s road race circuit. “I felt good. I’m running 25 to 30 miles a week.”
Gilberto Fraire, 32 and of Dalton, and Tom Sell, 44 and of Chattanooga, Tenn., took third and fourth place overall finishes, respectively.
Kate Spetter, a 5-year-old girl from Dalton, received an award for being the youngest participant.
David Sanders, the race director from sponsoring Carpet Capital Running Club, reflected on the increasing turnouts the race has enjoyed for four consecutive years.
“We try to treat our runners like customers,” Sanders said. “We want them to realize how important that they are to us. We made sure that every boy and girl under age 14 got an award.”
Ali Donahue of the Healthcare Foundation provided another insight.
“People’s health is so much more important now,” Donahue said. “They’re into both running and walking. They feel really successful when they cross the finish line.”
Full results of the event will be posted online at carpetcapitalrunningclub.com.