By Doug Hawley
Jason Hopkins made history Saturday morning as champion of the first 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race held as part of the Grizzly Trail Run at Raisin Woods Mountain Bike Park in Dalton.
While this was the fourth edition of the Grizzly Trail Run, during the previous three events only a 5K (3.1-mile) race took place.
Hopkins, a 39-year-old Dalton resident, covered the rugged course in 46 minutes and 17 seconds. He averaged 7:27 per mile while negotiating tree roots, mud, hills and other obstacles.
“I did have a few close calls as far as going to the ground,” a relieved Hopkins said. “I hit some slick spots. However, there was a good balance of hills and flat spots. I feel very good about the race. This is my first overall win around here.”
Dalton’s Hilario Mendez, 48, finished as the runner-up in 49:03. He was the champion in the men’s masters (40 and older) category.
Dalton’s Floribel Arana, 36, was the overall female winner for the 10K in 55:57.
“It was a hard race,” Arana said. “It was very slippery. I was worried about falling but didn’t.”
Dalton’s Maria Salaices, 35, was the runner-up to Arana at 56:37. Dalton’s Holly Kimsey, 48, was the female masters champion in 58:01.
As it turns out, this might have also been the first true 5K for the Grizzly Trail run as well — except it was longer than that.
“I measured the course yesterday,” race official Mitchell Hayes related. “The 10K was right at the correct distance. However, the 5K was probably more like 3.5 miles. If we had re-routed it, it would have required five more course marshals. In the past, the course was not quite a full 5K.”
Consequently, any 5K participants who were miffed about slower times should take stock that they ran almost a half-mile farther.
Two Murray County High School distance runners claimed honors in the day’s shorter race. Ivan Delgado, a junior, paced the males in 23:54, while senior Nayeli Jacobo led the females in 28:46.
“It’s the hardest course that I’ve ever run on,” Delgado said. “There were a lot of turns, and it was slick.”
Servio Martinez, 17, edged his brother, Jessie Martinez, 12, for runner-up honors, 24:07 to 24:17.
This marked the third area 5K in which Jacobo has taken female honors this spring. She earlier won the Run for John and Healthcare Classic events.
“I got stuck behind some slower people at the start but managed to pick it up,” Jacobo said. “I’m happy to get another win.”
Dalton’s Sarah Burnette, 8, was a close second in 28:54.
For the 5K, masters champions were Dalton’s Pedro Rodriguez, 42 — he won the men’s title in 26:05 — and Ringgold’s Ashley Remko, 43, who finished in 41:53 to take the women’s honor.
There were 125 finishers in the two races — 100 in the 5K and 25 in the 10K — which was down from 152 in 2012.
“It was a good turnout,” race director Jami Hall said. “The number probably was down a little because of the threatening weather. Fortunately, the rain held off for the races.”
Veteran runner Terry Strawser was among those elated with the course.
“You’ve got to focus the whole time,” the 60-year-old Eton resident said. “It’s a true cross country course. I had to really focus to keep from falling down.”
Dalton’s Frank Patterson, a 66-year-old dentist who competes in most area races, was asked the same question throughout the morning: “What happened to you?”
Patterson’s right arm was in a sling following rotator cuff surgery in his right shoulder, which figures to keep him sidelined for a month.
“I will not be doing my normal duties at the office,” a smiling Patterson said with a shrug. “I will be able to see only the hygiene patients.”
Proceeds from the event aided Cross Plains Community Partner, a nonprofit agency that provides day support to adults with developmental disabilities in North Georgia. Complete results of both races are posted at carpetcapitalrunningclub.com.