By Doug Hawley
Isaac Pacheco and Allison Whittle claimed the overall male and female victories Thursday night as the 25th annual Dalton St. Patrick’s Day Road Race produced a record 293 runners.
Pacheco, a standout junior at North Murray High, easily paced the males by running the two miles from First Presbyterian Church and back in 10 minutes and 25.6 seconds. In a battle of Chatsworth residents for second place, Jesus Cruz, 16, finished just ahead of Antonio Martinez, 14, 11:32.0 to 11:35.6.
Pacheco, second last year, won the event on his fourth attempt.
“I like to use this race as preparation for the track season,” he said. “It gives me a good break from the track.”
Going through the first mile on Wood Valley Road in five minutes, he already had opened a big lead on a humid night which showed an 80-degree temperature at the start.
Rounding out the top five males were Amaury Jiminez, 27 of Chatsworth, fourth, 12:11; and Zac Long, 30 of Dalton, fifth, 12:11.4.
In an exciting female race featuring two Dalton runners, Whittle, 28, outlasted Katlyn Liszewski, 24, 14:16.2 to 14:17.5. They finished 21st and 22nd overall.
“Katlyn caught me after we came out of Woods onto Tibbs coming back (with a half mile to go),” said Whittle, a pre-K teacher. “Then I held on to barely finish ahead of her. This is my first time to run this race, but I certainly will run it again.
“This is my first overall win. I usually finish first or second in my age division.”
Whittle, a Northwest Whitfield High graduate, has been a consistent runner for the past six years.
“I ran track in high school,” she said. “However, I was not a distance runner. I remember doing the 4 x 400 as a runner and some field events.”
Trailing those leading females were Holly Kimsey, 45, 14:57; Dee Goodwin, 44, 15:04; and Mariam Burnette, 11, 15:40.
For the first time, proceeds from this race aided charity, with the funds going to Dalton City Special Olympics.
“We were hoping to have 300 people, and we were right at it,” said an elated Lisa Hughey, the director of the Dalton agency. “All of the money stays with the local Special Olympics. This will be particularly helpful in enabling us to send our kids to state competition.”
Local Special Olympics are scheduled for April 27 at Coahulla Creek High School.
David Sanders, director of the event for sponsoring Carpet Capital Running Club, was happy with the way the runners turned out for a good cause.
“We might make $5,000,” Sanders said. “That would be great. This race has continued to get bigger each year.”
The previous record was 238 runners, set last year, about 100 more than the older mark.
Full race results will be available soon at carpetcapitalrunningclub.com.