By Doug Hawley
Kelly Thomas had not participated in the Carpet Capital 10-Miler for more than two decades, but she made up for lost time Saturday morning in Varnell.
Thomas, a 45-year-old attorney from Atlanta, captured the overall female prize by finishing the feature race in one hour, 10 minutes and 29 seconds. Action started and ended at Varnell Elementary School.
“I ran the second one here, I think, 23 years ago,” Thomas said. “It was my second year of law school. I remember that the race had the small community atmosphere. It still does.”
On the male and overall side, Isaac Pacheco, a 17-year-old North Murray High junior, claimed his second overall area race within the past week — this one in an outstanding 55:33. He won the Silver Bell Sprint 5K in Dalton on Dec. 2.
“I was aiming for a state record in my age group (58:30) and got that,” Pacheco said of his 5:34 per mile pace. “Nobody was pushing me, so I was running against the clock.”
Thomas also set a state age-group mark for United States Track and Field (USATF).
There were 220 finishers in the 10-miler, which started and ended at Varnell Elementary School. Another 100 went in the preliminary 5K for 330 total runners.
“I had not done a road race in three or four years,” Thomas said. “I do about three or four triathlons a year. They keep me in shape.”
Pacheco led from the start through a 5:13 first mile. In an even-paced jaunt, he did back-to-back five-mile splits of 27:42 and 27:51. The temperature was 35 degrees when the race started at 9 a.m., but that was fine with Pacheco.
“The weather was great,” he said. “The course was tough, with some tough hills. It was particularly windy going out.”
A revised course had runners going out and back instead of the traditional loop. It was altered due to the washout of a bridge several weeks ago.
Alan Outlaw, 34 and of Chattanooga — who won the Chattanooga Seven Bridges Marathon in October — took the runner-up spot in 57:20. Manuel Ferrer, 44 and of Dalton, was third in 1:00.01.
Candace Harrison, 26 and of Ellijay, was second among the females in 1:14.01. Susanna Carter, 34 and of Chattanooga, finished third in 1:16.
The aforementioned Ferrer earned top honors for Masters (40 and older). Laura Raintree of Pisgah Forest, N.C., topped the females in that category with a 1:14.56. Grand Masters titles (50 and older) went to Curt Zacharias of Chattanooga, in 1:08.32; and Doris Wind-Dausman, 55 of and Harriman, Tenn., in 1:16.55.
Servio Martinez, a 16-year-old Murray County High runner, paced the 5K participants in 18:07.6. Dalton High graduate Carina Nieto, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of West Georgia, led the females in 19:30.8.
All proceeds this year went to assist Lindsey Metcalf, the former Varnell mayor who is at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. He is recuperating from a spinal cord injury suffered almost two months ago in a mowing accident.
“We had about the same number of people from last year on a terrific weather day,” said race director David Leatherman of Carpet Capital Running Club, which coordinated the event. “Certainly the proceeds went to a worthy cause.”
The club will post full results at its website, carpetcapitalrunningclub.com.