February 4, 2012

Doug Hawley: New cause for old race

— The 25th annual Dalton St. Patrick’s Day Road Race — the two-mile event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on March 15 at First Presbyterian Church (510 S. Tibbs Road) — will have a special flavor.

For the first time in the history of the event, proceeds are aiding charity. Dalton City Special Olympics will be the beneficiary of funds raised by the two-mile race.

“When the Georgia Special Olympics was held in Dalton last October, I was a volunteer,” race director David Sanders said. “I was so touched by it that I wanted to donate all of our St. Patty’s proceeds to Dalton Special Olympics. That’s what we are doing.”

Lisa Hughey, the director of Dalton City Special Olympics, is ecstatic about the support from the race.

“I am excited and very honored that they have chosen us,” Hughey said. “Special Olympics is run completely by donations. In our competitions, 100 percent goes to the athletes.”

Carpet Capital Running Club, which has coordinated the St. Patty’s race since the beginning, annually raises some $150,000 through races to help various community endeavors.

This race recently has shown a remarkable increase in numbers. Until two years ago, there had not been more than 100 participants.

A record number of 144 turned out in 2010. That mark was broken last year with a startling 238.

“Our latest turnout no doubt had a lot to do with a huge Run for God contingent,” Sanders said. “They were in training for the first Run for God Run at the Mill. That should be a good draw again.”

Run for God competition at Prater’s Mill in Varnell, which includes a half marathon and 5K, is scheduled for April 14.

“We’re aiming for 300 people (at the St. Patrick’s Race) this time,” Sanders said. “I think that we can do it.”

The entry fee is $15 by March 8 and $20 afterwards.

“I encourage runners to sign up ahead of time,” Sanders said. “Otherwise, they might not get T-shirts on race day.”

An extra incentive is that the race is the first of some 10 events in the Carpet Capital Running Club’s Runner of the Year competition. Distances vary from two miles to the marathon.

Winners and placers are honored at the annual banquet for various age divisions.

Having the event on a Thursday night will mean minimum competition from other races, which customarily occur on weekends.

Awards, food and soda will help provide a festive atmosphere.

OTHER ACTION: Beautiful Berry College in Rome, the country’s largest land grant college, will attract area runners on Feb. 18 for three races: a half marathon, 10K and 5K. The event serves as a qualifier for the famous Peachtree Road Race, the annual 10K held on July 4 in Atlanta.

One week later, Chattanooga will host the Scenic City Half Marathon, which starts and finishes at Finley Stadium. There’s also an accompanying 5K run.

Two days after Dalton’s St. Patty’s race, Ringgold will host the Gateway Bank 5K.

IN THE LONG RUN: Some people consider marathon runners as either having guts or being crazy. There is something different about running 26.2 miles — basically from Dalton to Chattanooga.

In a recent Runner’s World Magazine story, London’s Fauja Singh was cited as the oldest marathon finisher at age 100 last October. He completed the course in 8 hours and 11 minutes — 49 minutes better than his goal.

The man’s pre-race diet: nuts, sugar and butter with a cup of tea.

Then there was Ed Ettinghausen, 49, of Murrieta, Calif., who last year ran 135 marathons — doing three on most weekends. He averaged 4:30 for each one.

“I’m not that talented,” the CPR trainer explained, “but I felt the need to send a message to all runners that anything is possible if you believe you can do it.”

His point is proven. We all can do more than logic dictates.

Perhaps it is time for me to seek a Boston Marathon championship — having fallen short there five previous times between 1976 and 1981.

Hey, I would be more mature the next time!

Doug Hawley has been a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years. You can write to him at dhawley@optilink.us.