The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Phillips, Halcomb win Komen Race for Cure titles
By John Hunt
Posted: Thursday, October 06, 2005

It didn't seem to bother Geno Phillips that he had done a six-mile training run on the morning of the 2005 Komen Chattanooga Race for the Cure 5K, which took place on Sunday afternoon, September 25.

Although he didn't cover the 3.1-mile distance as fast as some of the other 5K races he's run this fall, it was fast enough for the 34-year-old middle school social studies teacher to claim the overall victory with a time of 16 minutes, 25 seconds.

Former UTC track and cross country All-American Steven Kocsis was second in 16:44 while Mitchell Cox was third in 17:05.

Two more UTC runners dominated the women's competition with Nettie Halcomb's 17:57 being fast enough for the overall victory while teammate Kathleen Turchin was right there with her as she finished a step back in 17:58. Another former Lady Moc, Amy Dolittle-Crider was third overall among females as she finished 12th overall with an outstanding time of 19:19.

This event has gotten bigger and bigger since its beginning back in the late 90s, While only 421 competitive runners took part, the entire group totaled well over 7,000 participants. Some ran with friends and family members while others just enjoyed a leisurely walk. Many teams also took part, including schools, fraternities, sororities, churches and other organizations. They all supported the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and many of the participants are breast cancer survivors.

It was sunny and hot as the 2 p.m. starting time approached, but the heat and humidity didn't play as big a factor in the results as the wind. The runners started on Mabel Street behind Maclellan Gym. After covering the first mile on Riverside Drive, the course turned back toward town on the riverwalk and that's where the gusting wind greeted each runner as they made the turn and headed back toward UTC.

After passing Manker Patten, the course turned back onto Mabel Street before encountering the only significant hill as it passed McKenzie Arena before turning left on Houston Street. Another left turn on Vine carried the field past the front of Maclellan Gym. After two more quick left turns, it was a slight downhhill sprint to the finish.

Phillips and Kocsis tried various tactics on each other. Phillips answered the call when Kocsis surged in the first mile, but Phillips gained the advantage when Kocsis didn't respond a mile later. Phillips opened a comfortable advantage at that point and his lead never diminished.

"That was fun," Phillips said while waiting impatiently for the award ceremony to begin.

"I ran six miles this morning and used this race as my speed work for the day. I just wanted to run strong and steady. I think I ran 5:14s for every mile. He tried to drop me at the first mile, but I went with him. I did the same thing at mile two and he didn't go. I'm just grateful that Steven hasn't been running as much as he normally does and he wasn't as strong as he could have been. And that wind on the way back was stout. I'm sure that had something to do with the slower times," Phillips said.

The 24-year-old Kocsis will graduate in December as a Fitness/Wellness Specialist. He has a 5K personal best of 14:07. He had been slightly under the weather earlier in the week, so his performance wasn't near what it could have been.

"It was a fun race, although I didn't run as fast as I wanted. I was hoping to get under 16 minutes. Combined with the wind, those hills sneak up on you. They took a lot out of me, but I took all summer off and I'm still trying to get back in shape," the Ontario, Canada native added quietly.

Halcomb and Turchin both ran extremely fast and both had a huge smile on their faces when they crossed the finish line. You could tell that they had a positive experience and that they felt good about their performances.

"It was a good event for me, thanks to Kathleen. We run together, we eat together and we race together. It was a real pleasure running with an All-American," Halcomb said, referring to the fact that Turchin posted a time of 16:36 in the NCAA outdoor championships back in the spring that earned her those high honors.

"We run on the riverwalk quite a bit, so we knew the course really well. I just wanted a time somewhere in the 17s," the 20-year-old mechanical engineering major from Fayetteville added.

"We worked together and that helped us both quite a bit. We had a lot of fun today," Turchin said quietly.

While Phillips was the overall winner, Don Gregg finished 15th overall in 19:38 to claim the Male Masters' title while 53-year-old John Walker was 24th overall in 20:03 to capture the Male Grand Masters' title.

Cecelia Wigal was 56th overall in 21:51 to gain Female Masters' honors while Paula Cooper was 108th overall in 23:55 to claim the Female Grand Masters' title.

Linda Andreae was the fastest of 11 breast cancer survivors who competed as she was 199th overall in 26:28.  Other survivors who completed the distance included Melinda Ellis, Sandra Roebuck, Kate Judd, Allison Cardwell, Beth Rodriguez, Joan Kirby, Patricia Nowlin, Darlene Smith, Sandi Townley and Cynthia Scott.

Of the 421 who were timed, there were 238 men and 183 women.


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