By Drew Brantley
Cohutta’s Dean Thompson said he prepares especially for the Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon.
His effort Saturday showed his work paid off, as he repeated as the overall winner in this year’s 13.1 mile course with a time of 1 hour, 16 minutes and 5 seconds.
“This is one my two biggest races,” Thompson said. “Mostly because it is local. I put a lot of effort into this one.”
Retuning for its second year, the half marathon — which was accompanied with a 5K and 2K run run — followed a new course this year, which wound from the starting point downtown out to Walnut Avenue and along the Tibbs Road area out to the North bypass and over to Thornton Avenue, returning downtown for the finish.
Elizabeth Scroggs crossed the start-finish as the fastest female time in the half marathon with a time of 1:38.36.
Manuel Ferrer grabbed the top time in the Masters — and second overall — with a 1:19.17, and Thomas Stark claimed the fastest Grand Masters time at 1:33.01.
Dee Goodwin was the fastest Masters female with a 1:39.47, and Margie Bruner was the fastest Grand Masters top female at 1:47.35.
Race director David Sanders said event workers at day of races put in their own effort to compliment the participants.
“We try to treat the runners like our customers,” Sanders said. “A lot of races seem to treat the runners as an afterthought. We got a lot of hard work from a lot of people to help make sure the runners were taken care of.”
In the 5K race, Jason Alford won with a 18:23, and Wendy Houston turned in the top female time with a 21:52.
“This course was a little tougher,” Thompson said. “But it was tougher early. But that 5K or so past the hospital was pretty tough.”
Sanders said feedback from the runners was mixed.
“We got about as many positive comments as we got negative,” Sanders said. “Last year a lot of runners said they did not like the down and back on Thornton Ave., and they wanted to run through some prettier neighborhoods. So we did that. We do a survey to find out what people think. We could fix again next year.”
It was much faster for Scroggs.
“I liked this course better,” Scroggs said. “I took 11 minutes off my time this year.”
As Coahulla Creek’s girls cross country coach, Scroggs said would like to see her efforts drive the Lady Colts now and beyond their time in school.
“I hope it inspires them,” Scroggs said. “I want them to be life-long runners and not just a fad.”
And if her runners complain about training, Scroggs said her recent participation in races could be a good coaching motivation tactic.
“I ran the Dalton half and I ran a 50K about two weeks ago,” Scroggs said. “If (my runners) complain, I’ll say, ‘I just ran 31 miles. I don’t want to hear any of that.’”
Goodwin, a standout at Northwest Whitfield and the first runner inducted into the Tennessee-Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame, Goodwin has also competed in the Boston Marathon. While she said the starting gun still fires her to compete, training has gotten tougher.
“I’m so competitive,” Goodwin said. “Running used to mean more to me. Family and work have become more important. But when you get out here, you obviously want to win. Preparing for these races does go against your natural desire to sit on the sofa and eat doughnuts.”
For 5K and half marathon race results, visit zuluracing.com or turn to page 7B.