By Doug Hawley
On a rainy Saturday morning in which most area outdoor activity was postponed, some 1,300 hearty souls braved the elements as part of the 33rd annual Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic.
In the longest race from Bradley Wellness Center, the 10-kilometer which displayed 123 finishers, defending champion Dean Thomp-son of Cohutta even improved his time. However, he had to settle as the runner-up this time.
Alan Horton, a 30-year-old stalwart from Knoxville, Tenn., covered the 6.2 miles in 33 minutes and 15 seconds — an average of 5 minutes and 22 seconds per mile over the hilly course. An unknown to the area running community, he still is not known that well after leaving before the awards’ ceremony.
Thompson, 47, claimed men’s masters (40-and-over) while clocking 35:01. That easily beat his 2012 time of 36:18.
“Last year when I ran here, it was only one month after running Boston (Marathon),” Thompson said. “A lot of people don’t like to run in the rain, but I do.
“It might give me a mental edge. I feel great. I was hoping for 35:30 and did that.”
Stephanie Rynas, a 25-year-old Chattanooga resident — who is employed as an athletic trainer through Bradley Wellness Center — claimed the female title in 47:06.
“I was second overall last year,” Rynas said. “I ran a little slower this time but still managed to win. I always enjoy running this race.”
Holly Kimsey, a 46-year-old Daltonian, topped the female masters in 48:56 and also finished second overall. As a part-time fitness trainer, she often leads a dozen females in runs.
“I enjoy leading those women," Kimsey said. “I really enjoy seeing them do well in the races such as this one. This is a PR (personal record) for me on this course."
In the 5K event which produced 331 finishers, North Murray High senior standout Isaac Pacheco emerged the champion despite competing Friday night in the State 3A track meet’s two-mile at Jefferson.
He covered the 3.1 miles 16:47 — a 5:25 per mile rate.
“I feel good,” Pacheco said. “The hills here really beat up my legs. This race always has been important to me. This was the first race that I ever ran when I was in the fourth grade.”
Louis Perez, a 14-year-old Dalton resident, was second overall in 18:15.
Tom Sell, 46, the Northwest Whitfield High School head cross country coach, emerged as the top male masters in 18:28.
For the second straight week, Murray County High senior Nayeli Jacobo earned a 5K crown while pacing the fenales in 21:18.
She took top honors at the Run for John race in April.
“Running in the rain has worked for me,” Jacobo said as the Run for John was also a wet race. “This was a PR for me on the roads.”
Summer Wofford, a 27-year-old Red Bank, Tenn. resident, garnered the female runner-up spot in 22:23.
Masters honors went to Mary Wood, 46 of Rocky Face, in 23:11.
Dr. Don Thomas, who still practices medicine as he approaches his 80th birthday, participated with his customary vigor in the 5K.
“I was the oldest one here last year and haven’t seen anybody who looks older,” Thomas said with a chuckle.
“I ran the course in a little over 40 minutes. I run three miles a day, usually six days a week.”
In a preliminary 2K for the youngsters (about 1.2 miles), Jesus Cruz led the boys and Clarabel Salaices the girls (times unavailable).
Numerous untimed 5K participants and the 2K swelled the overall number. Many runners wore black ribbons to support of the people who suffered in the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy.
“I was amazed how many runners and volunteers were here today despite the rain,” said co-race director Ali Whittier. “It shows that people really believe in health.”
Whittier represented the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership which received the event’s proceeds.
Co-race director Ricky Harrison coordinated activities as a Bradley Wellness Center employee.
Complete results of the 5K and 10K races can be found through carpetcapitalrunningclub.com.