May 6, 2012

‘Great crowd’ for Gregory Classic

By Doug Hawley

— Cohutta native Dean Thompson made history Saturday morning as the overall winner of the 32nd Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic’s first 10K race since the latter 1980’s.

“It feels good to make history,” the 46-year-old Thompson said of his 36 minutes, 18 seconds clocking over the tough course, which started and ended at Bradley Wellness Center. “It’s like the Dalton Half Marathon for me.”

Thompson has won the only two Dalton Red Carpet half marathons, which have taken place in October.

“I wanted to see today how it felt to run a race after doing the Boston Marathon less than three weeks ago,” he said. “It ddn’t work too well. I felt awful.”

Thompson was 316th of 22,000 finishers at Boston in 2:54.32 on an unseasonably hot day.

Although Thompson’s time was two minutes slower than usual for him on a 6.2 mile race, he still finished 13 seconds ahead of 20-year-old Fernando Morales from Dalton.

“I took the lead about 2 1/2 miles in,” Thompson said while averaging 5:51 per mile. “I managed to hold on.”

Sarah Woerner, a 22-year-old University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate student in physical education from Ooltewah, Tenn., led the females in 40:28.

“I did not know about the history,” said Woerner. “It was my first time here. It was a great crowd.”

Woerner, who ran track and cross country as a senior at UTC, also competed recently in a 100-mile Alabama trail run from Heflin to Sylacauga.

“This was a short distance in comparison here, but it hurts more for that distance,” she said. “It was very hilly. The last hill on the last mile was really tough.”

Amanda Self, 18, of Dalton, was the female runner-up in 42:12.

Masters’ honors (40-and-over) went to Manuel Ferrer, 40, of Dalton, (38:52) and Belinda Young, 43, of Chatsworth (46:42).

There were 161 10K finishers and 1,040 in the 5K — 1201 combined for the two races, which started together on a humid 70-degree morning.

“You will find that many 5K participants can at least walk the distance,” said co-race director Ricky Harrison. “The 10K runners obviously must have more training for that distance.”

Harrison had been one of the last 10K winners, an accolade he shared with Larry Dunn in 1986 before the event became strictly a 5K event.

About 500 people participated in the Kid’s Classic 2K, which followed conclusion of the other two races. That swelled the total figure to some 1,700 runners.

Brandon Pineda, a 16-year-old sophomore track and cross country runner at Dalton High, paced the 5K field in 18:24.

“I was not expecting to get first overall,” Pineda said. “I was just hoping to get first in my age group.”

Freddy Castillo, 20 of Dalton, finished second in 18:40.

Dalton High graduate Carina Nieto, an 18-year-old freshman at University of West Georgia, led the females in 20:17. She also won the Run for John last week in Dalton.

“I’m certainly excited to come back home and win again,” Nieto said. “People here are a great motivation for me.”

Yazmin Martinez, 22 of Dalton, was the female runner-up in 23:57.

Masters’ accolades were achieved by Francisco Perez, 42, of Dalton (20:10) and Mary Wood, 45, of Rocky Face (24:12).

There was $400 total presented to the four overall winners and four masters’ recipients — $50 to each person.

Participants in both the 10K and 5K negotiated the same two half-mile hills — from Westwood School to the Creative Arts Guild in second mile  and from Cascade Street to Broadrick Drive in the last mile.

“We’re very pleased with the way things turned out,” said co-director Ali Donahue. “It seemed that we had been planning it forever. Everybody wants to run or walk. It’s great for fitness.”

Northwest Georgia Partnership, which has been sponsoring the event since 1996, is celebrating its 20th year of service to promote area fitness.

Complete results will be available this week on the Website of Carpet Capital Running Club, which coordinated the event’s logistics, at