Sports Columns

October 6, 2013

Doug Hawley: $50,000 the goal on the Red Carpet

When runners can participate in viable races and also help charities big time, it serves a double purpose.

That is the case for the fourth annual Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon/5K/2K on Oct. 26 in downtown Dalton.

City of Refuge-Dalton and Family Promise of Whitfield County are the primary beneficiaries.

Race director David Sanders said the past two years have netted $70,000 for those two charities, with $40,000 raised last year.

“We have a good chance of making $50,000 this time,” Sanders said. “We’ve got more corporate sponsors to go with all of the runners’ fees.”

For the charities, fees will go 100 percent locally to help provide food, clothing, medical attention and housing.

From the first year, the half marathon — the country’s fastest growing road race distance in terms of popularity — has been the feature event on Dalton Red Carpet race day. The 13.1-mile jaunt represents the longest distance of the 13-event Runner of the Year competition, which is coordinated by Carpet Capital Running Club.

Having participated in the other three half marathons, it is penciled in each year on my calendar. This represents my longest race of the year, with marathons long ago in the rearview mirror.

With the event less than three weeks away, most half marathoners should be doing at least one leisurely 10-mile training run a week by now. Do not be concerned by the time it takes you to complete such a run.

On the assumption that you have a race day time goal, plan to do your training runs much slower. Figure about one-and-a-half to two minutes slower per mile.

The idea is to be on your feet about the same amount of time as your projected clocking in the race. For example, if you are shooting for a time of two hours, that is a 9-minute, 8-second average per mile. Your training runs likely would be in the 10:45 to 11-minute range.

Faster weekly pace sessions on the track or the road can help your speed. You should also expect to get an adrenaline boost on race day after tapering the week before.

Do not overlook the importance of the shorter 5-kilometer and 2-kilometer events. These participants will take pride in their fitness while aiding the deserving charities.

Since the 5K is the standard high school cross country distance, you can expect many prepsters as usual to do this run. I strongly urge the high schoolers to not do the half marathon at this time, because it can mess up your competitive cross country running with region and state races coming up soon after.

“Two years ago, we had a little more than 1,200 for the three races,” Sanders said. “This year, we’ll probably beat that. At our cutoff date (Sept. 28) before the prices went up, we were off about 5 percent locally in the half marathon. Amazingly, though, we had about 60 percent more from the outside area. The good word has reached outside our area to such areas as Atlanta. Our prices are lower than almost any place else, particularly the half marathon.”

Sanders hardly can wait for race day.

“I believe that it will be our best ever,” he confidently said. “You learn more each year. A lot of races treat you as an afterthought. We want to treat each (participant) like a customer.”

For runners and their backers looking to wind down later, they can anticipate the Liberty Tree Festival, which will feature the band Fastball this year.

ALSO A RECORD: Melissa Dykes, 25 of Rocky Face, was inadvertently omitted from the Georgia Road Race state record list in earlier results reported at the Eton Country Fair 4-Miler.

Race director Terry Strawser said Dykes set the women’s open division state record for the race in 29 minutes and 31 seconds. She was one of eight people to establish records on the certified Eton course.

TUNEUP RUN: One week prior to the Dalton extravaganza, on Oct. 19, the sixth annual Black Bear Classic 5K in Chatsworth can serve as a tuneup. Action starts and ends at First National Community Bank.

This event also counts in the CCRC’s Runner of the Year competition.

BLISTERING PACE: For anybody who considers marathon runners to be plodders, consider what 31-year-old Wilson Kipsang of Kenya did in the recent 40th annual Berlin Marathon.

Negotiating the 26.2 miles (imagine the distance from Dalton to Chattanooga) in two hours, three minutes and 23 seconds, he averaged a robust 4:42 per mile.

That time would win many boys’ high school 1,600-meter races on flat four-lap tracks.

Yes, the best in the world can accomplish some amazing things.

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

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