By Doug Hawley
Marietta’s Valentin Alvarez admits he dislikes cold weather.
It didn’t keep him from winning the feature half marathon Saturday morning at the fourth annual Dalton Red Carpet races, which began with a 28-degree reading on the thermometer.
“I certainly don’t like cold weather,” said Alvarez, 44, who won the 13.1-mile race in 1 hour, 15 minutes and 7 seconds against a field of 250 participants. “Being from Mexico originally, I’d rather it be 60 degrees.”
Alvarez averaged 5:44 per mile over the rolling course, which started and ended in downtown Dalton at the intersection of West and Selvidge streets. The morning’s competition also included a 5K and a 2K.
“This was my first time to run this race,” Alvarez said. “It’s more challenging than I thought that it would be. It’s a good course. I like the people. I definitely want to come back and do it again.”
Cohutta’s Dean Thomp-son — the 48-year-old veteran of the area road race scene won the first two Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon titles — was the runner-up in 1:16.10.
“I was within 15 seconds of him at 10 miles,” Thompson said. “Then he gradually started pulling away. I was only two seconds off my best time here two years ago. I do like running in the cold.”
Jill Horst, a 35-year-old Rome resident, paced the females to the red carpet that awaited all finishers with a 1:25 clocking. She averaged 6:29 per mile.
“I was happy with my time,” said Horst, who qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon. “In my first time here, I really enjoyed the course. It’s a good event.”
Patrica Coppel, 30, was second to Horst in 1:28.23.
Thompson was awarded as the top finisher in the male masters (40 and older) division. Snellville’s Chris Adkins, 50, received the grandmasters (50 and older) title with his 1:30.59 finish.
Female honors in those categories went to Atlanta’s Mary-Gay Li, 49, who finished in 1:34.25, and Toccoa’s Donna Presley, 67, who finished in 1:46.02. The latter set a state age-group mark in the Georgia Road Racing record book.
Some 800 people finished the three races, a smaller figure than co-race director David Sanders had projected.
“We were up in the half, but we were way down in the 5K,” Sanders said. “When runners have trained for a half marathon, they are going to come, no matter the weather. In the 5K, a lot of the runners are going to see how the weather is before they come. If it had been a warmer day, I’m sure that we would have had 1,000 runners.”
Dalton’s Manuel Ferrer, 42, led 279 finishers in the 5K (3.1-mile) race with a time of 18:10. Chatsworth’s Donald Cantrell, 53, won the masters title with a time of 22:32, while Pablo Martinez, 60, was the grandmasters champion in 25:40.
Melissa Dykes, a 25-year-old Rocky Face resident, claimed the female’s top prize in 22:44. Ringgold’s Fang Wang, 47, was the masters winner in 26:10, while Dalton’s Carolyn Roan, 56, took the grandmasters title in 28:19.
The 2K (1.2-mile) race had a pair of 13-year-old winners in Jessie Martinez, 6:38, and Rachel Ward, 7:57.
Eton’s Terry Strawser, 60, captured the overall male award presented by U.S. Track and Field for the three-part Grand Prix series that culminated with the Dalton Red Carpet Half Marathon after earlier 5K and 15K races in Georgia. Strawser received $300.
Sanders said the event might net $50,000 to aid two local agencies — City of Refuge and Family Promise of Whitfield County.
Primary sponsorship came from Alliant Health Plans. Engineering Floors and Marketing Alliance also provided key corporate assistance.
Complete running results can be found at carpetcapitalrunningclub.com.