Sports Columns

March 3, 2013

Doug Hawley: Check the calendar: Race is on for year’s top runners

By the time someone becomes a senior citizen, it’s logical to assume his or her chances are extremely long in athletic endeavors against talented athletes half his or her age.

That’s why road races have age and gender divisions. A solid 18-year-old high school runner certainly should be expected to beat a good 60-year-old.

However, under the new guidelines for the Carpet Capital Running Club’s Runner of the Year honors, older runners actually can emerge as overall winners for the awards — even against the younger, faster runners.

This year there are no divisions for ROY honors, as was the case in the past. Instead, the club will use an age and gender system that compares times to current world records.

“We already have all of the data needed in our system for our new competition,” said David Leatherman, CCRC membership chairman, on behalf of ROY chairman David Wycherley. “Everyone has an equal shot at being the Runner of the Year.”

Those top 10 scorers will earn accolades as Runners of the Year and be honored next January at the club’s annual banquet. The ROY competition encompasses a dozen designated races ranging from two miles to 9.3 miles. A minimum of four races must be entered.

Unlike in past years, there is no requirement to volunteer at one race to be eligible for the ROY award. But there’s still value in doing so to be eligible for the Volunteer of the Year competition.

The first ROY race, a two-miler, is March 14 in the 26th Annual Running of the First (and Maybe the Only) St. Patrick’s Day Road Race. Runners will start and finish at ChristChurch Presbyterian on Tibbs Road in Dalton.

Last year, a record 270 people participated, and race director David Sanders anticipates even more this time.

“I believe that we can hit 300 this time,” he said. “We’ve increased enough over the past five years where that seems realistic.”

In 2012, proceeds were earmarked for charity for the first time. The local chapter for Special Olympics, the beneficiary, received some $2,000.

Lisa Hughey, Special Olympics coordinator for the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department, enthusiastically awaits this event — the only Thursday night ROY action scheduled in 2013.

Other ROY activity:

• Chickamauga Chase: Chickamauga Battlefield, April 20. This 45th annual event, which occurs in America’s largest military park, again will features a 15K jaunt and, for the first time, a seven-mile trail run.

• Run for John 5K: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dalton, April 27. This race honors the late John Bruner, a prominent Dalton High School runner.

• Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic: Bradley Wellness Center in Dalton, May 4. Last year, the 10K resurfaced. It’s back, along with the traditional 5K.

• Grizzly Trail Run 5K: Raisin Woods in Dalton, May 18. This serves as the primary trail race for the Dalton area.

• Riverbend Run: Chattanooga, June 15. This event features both a 5K and 10K and always comes on the final day of the famed Riverbend music festival.

• John Bruner Missionary Ridge Road Race: Chattanooga, Aug. 10. This 4.7-mile run also honors the aforementioned Bruner.

• Calhoun Unity Run: Calhoun, Sept. 24. Area runners long have supported this United Way of Gordon County weekday 5K, which occurs this time on a Tuesday.

• Eton Country Fair 4-Miler: Eton, Sept. 28. This serves as Georgia’s lone certified four-mile road course.

• Chatsworth Fall Festival 5K: Chatsworth, Oct. 19. After finishing, runners can take in the festival.

• Santa Dash: Eton, Nov. 16. People can start getting into the holiday spirit with this 5K.

• Silver Bell Sprint: Dalton, Dec. 6. This annual festive Friday night 5K in downtown Dalton concludes the ROY points events.

Some longer local well-known races that are not part of the ROY activity certainly deserve mention.

The fourth annual Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon is scheduled for Oct. 26 this year and is partnered with the Liberty Tree Festival. Then there is the CCRC’s annual 10-mile race, which is slated for Dec. 14. It now serves as the state’s lone certified 10-mile road race.

Although runners enjoy the various events while staying fit, they are also helping charities in most cases.

The aforementioned Sanders, who serves as the Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon’s director along with Rick Little, has raised $30,000 and $40,000 to help Family Promise and City of Refuge. He estimated that the sponsors could net $50,000 this year. The Run for John usually brings in $10,000 for scholarships.

Area runners aren’t alone in their support of good causes. According to Runner’s World magazine, the United States accounts for some $1.2 billion through races for charity.

It’s just one more reason to run.

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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