September 12, 2010

Doug Hawley: Going over the course

— It was a shock to learn the first Dalton Half Marathon suddenly became brutal with a change in the course. Due to complaints by some veteran runners about a lack of hills, race organizers decided to revamp the course in a big way.

Would you believe the 13.1-mile event now is to include going up Mount Sinai?

For those of you not familiar, Mount Sinai goes almost straight up some 1.5 miles off College Drive, a little south of Dalton State.

Have the race organizers lost their minds for this Oct. 16 national event? Wasn’t this supposed to be a runner-friendly course?

If those veterans believe that they must have this type terrain, go run the Pike’s Peak race in Colorado, which is marathon distance.

In the midst of my gnashing teeth and four-letter thoughts, I suddenly woke up from a restless sleep. It was a nightmare!

Yes, we still have our same moderate terrain. There is no Mount Sinai to climb.

With the Oct. 16 race roughly a month away, let’s envision how the runners will negotiate the course.

“Each of the miles is marked,” said race director David Sanders of Carpet Capital Running Club, which is coordinating the event. “They shouldn’t have any trouble beforehand either running or driving it.”

The race starts at 8 a.m. in downtown Dalton north of the courthouse on King Street. There is a quick right turn onto Hamilton Street. Then right on Franklin Street to Thornton Avenue, where you turn right onto Waugh Street.

Turning left on Waugh, there could be some bad thoughts about the hills on that street. Rest easy.

Quickly turn left onto Jones Street. That becomes Valley Drive as you pass the Crawford Street intersection. Turn right onto Walnut Avenue. Take a right onto Tibbs Road.

About four miles into the run, make a left at Wood Valley. This represents the area where the annual St. Patrick’s Day race — which starts and ends at First Presbyterian Church — occurs. However, that event is two miles, barely a warmup for the half marathon.

Runners will stay left on this loop so they do not cross paths with other participants. Then turn left onto Tibbs/Shugart. A right turn is made onto the bypass, then a quick right comes onto old U.S. 41.

“This is different from the original route,” Sanders said. “It’s more scenic and safer.”

Turn right on Thornton. You will have a mild incline. Then turn left on Franklin. Make a right turn onto Hamilton, where you go to a turnaround shortly past the railroad tracks and go back north.

Heading for home, you will have a slight climb on Hamilton. Having negotiated 12 miles, the terrain might feel tougher.

Turning left at King Street, you have gone 13 miles. There is only .1 of a mile ,or 176 yards, to go.

You will hear some festive music down the stretch. It might even be theme from “Rocky.” A red carpet will greet you for the final yards.

Instead of that nightmare about Mount Sinai, perhaps you will have a wonderful dream that focuses on such an ending.

Although overshadowed by the area’s first half marathon, the 5K that begins at 8:15 a.m. the same day is attracting extensive interest.

This run has the same starting spot and turns right onto Hamilton. The runners stay on this road where they have a turnaround near the railroad tracks.

Participants doing this 3.1-mile run will make the King Street left turn and finish at the same finish line as the half marathoners.


This is the 12th in a 16-part series of instructional columns preceding the first national Dalton Half Marathon on Oct. 16. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, finished in the top 10 percent of five Boston Marathons between 1976 and 1981. You can write to him at