By Doug Hawley
Dalton’s Mitchell Hayes didn’t begin running until he was 40 years old. He has made up for lost time.
“I started running with somebody back in 2005,” the 49-year-old Hayes said. “At that time, I had been doing bike races. At the time, I could not run a mile. I hated running.”
In due time, though, he adapted to his new fitness regime.
“I was up to 240 pounds,” Hayes said. “I got tired of carrying it over the hills.”
Then began a big weight reduction for the 6-foot-1 Hayes.
“I lost about 60 pounds in two years during the time period of 2006 and 2007,” he said. “I stayed about 185 to 190. I’m 190 now.”
Hayes’ determination led him to the overall 2013 Runner of the Year award presented by the Carpet Capital Running Club. He and others were honored Friday night at the organization’s annual banquet at Dalton Golf & Country Club. Runners participate in designated races to be eligible for the award.
“I’m excited about it,” Hayes said. “I had almost forgotten about the last race. Somebody mentioned to me about lunch time on the day of the race, or I would have missed it. Otherwise, I would have finished about third overall for the points.”
For the first time, ROY accolades went to the top 11 runners on an age/gender scoring system as related to world age records.
Participants got points in 13 designated races that ranged from two miles to the 13.1-mile half marathon.
“I think that the new format is a good thing,” Hayes said. “It helps the older folks in the point system.”
Under the former system, the 1982 Northwest Whitfield High School graduate and 2005 Dalton State College graduate was the open division champion a year ago.
“I have found running to be a spiritual thing for me,” Hayes said.
“It helps me to overcome some rough days.”
Hayes’ basic training is 45 miles a week. When training for longer distances, that climbs between 75 and 90.
His best time for the a marathon (26.2 miles) came at the Chickamauga Chase, where he finished in 3 hours and 28 minutes. Other personal best times are 19:27 for the 5K (3.1 miles) and 1:04 for the 15K.
“I still do a fair amount of biking,” Hayes said. “It’s a good balance.”
He did not have an auspicious start in sports.
“In my high school days, I was not that good an athlete,” Hayes said. “I seemed to be a B-teamer in whatever I did. I did get started as a snow skier when I was 9. I still do that once or twice a year.”
What is his primary goal for this year?
“I want to get back down to 180 and get a little faster,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the new year.”
Hayes is an operations and engineering manager for Brown Industries in Dalton.
En route to the overall ROY title, he scored 803.76 points. Following were Bret Yaeger, Dalton, 781.39; Doug Hawley, Dalton, 730.40; Terry Strrawser, Chatsworth, 691.90; Holly Kimsey, Dalton, 578.11; Frank Patterson, Dalton, 545.76; Janice Wycherley, Rocky Face, 542.85; David Moghani, Scottsboro, Ala., 471.73; David Wycherley, Rocky Face, 450.60; Eric Curtis, Dalton, 426.68; and Jennifer Cooley, Tunnel Hill, 418.38.
Those recipients ranged in age from 35 to 73. There were 72 participants in the scoring.
Chris Zimmerman earned the award as the Woody and Elaine Cornwell Volunteer of the Year with 925 points. Rounding out the top five were Randall Godwin, 850; David Leatherman, 775; Ricky Harrison, 700; and David Sanders, 700. Sixty-seven members provided assistance in 34 events.
Members of The Daily Citizen’s 2013 All-Area Cross Country Teams also were honored. Girls honorees were Isabel Salinas, Southeast Whitfield, Runner of the Year; Ana Padilla, Southeast; Nancy Paz, Northwest; Morgan King, Coahulla Creek; and Katlyn Richardson, Murray County. Boys honorees were Sadoth Fraire, Coahulla Creek, Runner of the Year; Henson Gibbs, Northwest; Walt Douglas, Coahulla Creek; Servio Martinez, Murray County; and Luis Perez, Southeast.