By Doug Hawley
VARNELL — Not even constant rain and strong winds were able to keep some 150 participants from completing the 26th annual Carpet Capital 10-Miler and 5K (3.1-mile) road races Saturday morning in Varnell.
“It’s amazing to me that some people registered this morning,” said race director David Leatherman. “It was raining at the time.”
There were about 100 finishers in the feature 10-mile run and another 50 for the 5K. The races started and finished at Varnell Elementary School.
“We were down from last year’s 270,” Leatherman said. “However, we had good weather a year ago. I appreciate all of the people who came out today despite the unfavorable weather.”
Dalton State College freshman Isaac Pacheco, who runs cross country for the Roadrunners, repeated as the 10-mile champion. He had a per-mile rate of 5 minutes and 44 seconds as he won in 57:16.
“I was very happy with my time, though it was about two minutes slower than last year,” said Pacheco, a North Murray High School graduate. “After the third mile, it started pouring harder and the wind got stronger.”
This was the second straight weekend Pacheco captured an area road race title. He won the Silver Bell Sprint, a 5K, on Dec. 6 in downtown Dalton.
On Saturday, Cumming’s Jonathan Gomez, 18, was a distant runner-up to Pacheco with a time of 1:00.01.
The first female finisher was Jeannette Wilson, a 33-year-old nurse from Chattanooga who won in 1:13, a pace of 7:20 per mile. It was her first road race victory.
“I’m mostly a trail runner,” she said. “At this moment, I’m numb. I can’t feel my arms and legs. It started sleeting out there. However, it was fun.”
Ruth Seiffert, 26 and of Louisville, Ky., earned the runner-up spot in 1:13.49.
Dalton’s Hilario Mendez, 48, won the male masters (40 and older) title in 1:10.3, while Peachtree City’s John Hankins, 56, won the male grandmasters (50 and older) title in 1:13.08.
Doris Windsand-Dausm, 57 and of Harriman, Tenn., was the female masters winner in 1:22.38, while Hiram’s Scarlett Cogland, 50, won the female grandmasters title in 1:36.56.
“For a loop course, it’s ironic that the wind seemed to be in our face the whole time,” said Larry Kugler, a 68-year-old Cedartown resident. “This is always a great race. It’s well-organized. I’ve run in it maybe eight to 10 times.”
Kugler finished second in the 65-69 division at 1:31.48.
“Once you get wet, it is not that bad,” said Scott Williams, a 44-year-old Cohutta resident. “Although it was windy and raining, I enjoyed it.”
Williams topped the 40-44 age group in 1:11.03.
Walt Douglas, who recently completed a strong freshman season for Coahulla Creek High School’s cross country program, finished his longest race ever. He was second in the 19-and-younger group behind Gomez.
“This might be my future type distance,” said Douglas, who runs 5K races during the high school cross country season. “The rain slowed me down, but it was very enjoyable.”
Two Southeast Whitfield High School runners were the top male and female finishers in the 5K as freshman Luis Perez and sophomore Isabel Salinas won in 18:05 and 19:59, respectively.
“It was really cold,” Perez said. “I was slowed down a lot due to the weather.”
Ringgold’s Miles Tanenbaum, 58, a retired Northwest Whitfield High School teacher, won the 50-59 division in 24:33.
“I came out to have fun, and that’s what happened,” Tanenbaum said. “I’m glad that I decided to do the shorter run.”
Dalton’s Jaslyn Gonzalez, 5, was easily the youngest participant. She clocked 31 minutes in the 5K to take third place in the 14-and-younger division.
“She ran for the most part by herself,” said her smiling mother, Nallely Mendez. “We locked hands at the end. This was her fourth race.”
Proceeds aided the Dalton Education Foundation and Whitfield Education Foundation.
Full results will be available later at carpetcapitalrunningclub.com. The club coordinated the race.