June 1, 2012

‘Big Harry’ raises big money for grant

By Doug Hawley

— Runners were able to bolster one key statistic Thursday night in the second annual Big Harry Cross Country Run over last year’s debut: money donated to the scholarship fund.

“Last year, we did not charge anything,” race director Doug Renz said. “We just wanted people to run the course and see how they liked it. This time we accepted donations.”

Renz said the challenging 5K (3.1-mile) course, which started at Dalton’s Lakeshore Park, wound through Al Rollins Park and ended back at Lakeshore, brought some $400 to the Harry W. Renz Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is in memory of Renz’s father, who was a supporter of Dalton High athletics, most notably the school’s track meets.

“We’re running here to help the scholarship fund,” said veteran Masters runner Margie Bruner, who helps coach distance runners at Dalton HIgh. “We ran one high school meet here last year.”

Chris Stephens, 37, participated in his first race since running the Derby Day Marathon a month ago in Louisville, Ky., where he clocked a time of 3 hours, 37 minutes.

“It’s a fantastic course,” Stephens said. “You’re running on four surfaces. You have grass, gravel, pavement and dirt trails. Doug’s done a great job with it.”

Karen Galyon, Dalton High’s cross country coach, also likes the course.

“We’ve adopted it as our home course,” Galyon said. “Although we run most of our meets out of town, I’m sure that we will have at least one meet there this next fall. We practice there at least once a week.”

That’s good news for Renz.

“It has been my goal for it to be Dalton’s cross country course,” Renz said. “We’ve done a lot of work on it.”

Much of that work has been accomplished through Steve Card, director of Dalton Parks and Recreation Department.

“He’s been great to work with,” Renz said. “We’re still trying to certify it. A lot goes into having a course certified.”

On Thursday, two teenagers captured top honors: Osvaldo Bastida, 17, was the winning male in 20 minutes and 7 seconds; Tilea West, 15, won the girls race in 24:50.

“I’ve run this course from time to time,” said Bastida, who will be a junior at Dalton High next school year. “It’s a pretty tough course. I have run 18:12 in the cross country season. I won one race last year. It didn’t help that I ate just before the race.”

West is a rising sophomore at Southeast Whitfield.

“This win was a surprise to me,” West said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever run this course, which I liked. I definitely plan to be back next year.”

Those two winners fell short time-wise from last year’s champions: Adam Dodson, 27, 18:52; and Beth Laird, 25, 23:22. Some 40 people participated, which is down from last year’s 72. But the funds were up.

“When we did it last year (on May 17), the kids were still in school,” Renz said. “We might need to go back to an earlier time. That’s something we will need to discuss. We still had a good turnout. We still have letters out to people who no doubt will help us financially.”

Renz said he had spent “all day” at the course getting ready for the event, along with his daughters, Chandler, 15, and Mary Turner, 12.

“You can’t beat that,” he said.

The scholarship fund in its eighth year has provided more than $10,000 to college-bound students. Renz Nest Catering sponsored the event.