The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Pacheco, Shaw Win Inaugural Run for Ringgold
By JOHN HUNT
Posted: Saturday, June 25, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011 will go down as one of those days we will never forget.

It was a weather event like none other where a number of tornadoes swept through the Chattanooga area, leaving death and destruction in their path.
The close-knit community of Ringgold, Georgia was certainly one of the hardest hit. People died from injuries caused by the storms while homes and businesses were destroyed.

In an effort to offer financial help, more than 800 runners and walkers gathered in this proud place on Saturday morning for the first-ever Run For Ringgold 5K.

It was a celebration of life and a chance for the local running community to offer a little assistance for those whose lives were changed forever by the devastating storms.

The proceeds from Saturday’s race will benefit 100 percent the Ringgold High School athletic department and band after both suffered extensive damage in the spring storms.

“We were hoping to have 1,000 runners and to raise $25,000 for these folks,” said Bill Moran, who is the president of the Chattanooga Track Club and one of the race directors who helped make this idea a reality.

“We came up a little short on the number of runners and walkers, but counting a $5,000 donation from the Oakwood Baptist Church in Chickamauga, we raised more than $32,000 today,” Moran said proudly.

“Nobody had been out here before and we sort of put this race together in a hurry, but everything turned out great and we were lined up and ready to run real close to 8.  It was just a community showing up to support a race for a great cause,” he added.

There were 334 runners who opted for a competitive chip and had their times recorded.  Another 500 or so jogged or walked as they enjoyed each other’s fellowship while passing by some of the hardest hit areas.

It was a humbling experience to say the least as we passed businesses and residential homes that were literally destroyed by the violent storms.  There were many places along the way where huge piles of rubble still lined the street.

Even as we were running, there were workers on the job, many still clearing away debris while others were working to repair structures that were still standing.

The 3.1-mile course started and finished next to the Northwest Georgia Bank on Robin Road.  It was a circular route with a few minor hills.  Virtually every home or business we passed was damaged in some way if not totally destroyed.

Despite the sadness of the past, Saturday’s event was upbeat, complete with a band that played before, during and after the race.  The Micks, who pride themselves as “Chattanooga’s Top-Shelf Party Band,” made an otherwise foggy and humid morning much more festive.

Isaac Pacheco, a 16-year-old junior to be at North Murray High School, was the overall winner in this event as he covered the distance in 16 minutes, 48 seconds.

He finished 32 seconds ahead of runner-up Jason McKinney while Fernando Morales averaged 5:48 per mile in posting a time of 18:01 for third place.
Will Henderson and Adam Rowland completed the top five with times of 18:10 and 18:12, respectively.

Kaitlin Shaw, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Shorter College, was the overall women’s winner with a time of 19:21, which was 15th overall.

Elizabeth Dull finished a step behind in 19:23 for the runner-up award while Emily Lasater was third overall in 20:25.

Katherine Fisher and Brooke Beach were fourth and fifth among the ladies with times of 22:18 and 22:40, respectively.

“I had a few guys with me for the first two miles, but I sprinted the last mile and left them behind,” Pacheco explained how his race unfolded.

“I really wanted something around 16:30, but the course was a little tougher than I expected,” he added.

Shaw is a 2007 graduate of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School who just finished a degree in Elementary Education at Shorter in May.

She posted a 3:10 three weeks ago in the NAIA Marathon, but that didn’t slow her down on Saturday.

“Today’s race wasn’t about winning.  Athletics build a community and it was the way I paid for my college education.  My time today was a little slower than I planned, but I guess my legs were still tired from the marathon,” she explained.

“I wasn’t living here when the tornado came through, but getting off at this exit and seeing the damage really hits home,” she added.

Amy Allen is a 36-year-old pre-school teacher at Silverdale Baptist Academy.  Her husband John used to be the football coach at LFO and she was an eighth-grade English teacher at Ringgold Middle at the time.

She experienced her first race on Saturday.

“I’ve just started running in recent weeks, but I saw it on Facebook and figured it would be a great day for my first race.  It was a lot of fun, although it was quite emotional for me as we passed my old school and saw what used to be my classroom with one of the walls missing.

“I had seen the news on television and had seen the pictures in the paper, but seeing it firsthand is different.  I’m glad I decided to come today,” she added.
Doug Hawley is a 70-year-old runner who served as the Sports Editor for the Dalton Daily Citizen from 1972-89.  He used to be one of the most competitive runners in North Georgia.  Despite times much slower than in days past, he still enjoys the experience.

“I’ve been running for more than 50 years as I started out as a 14-year-old in junior high.  There was a time when I warmed up faster than I run these days,” he added with a laugh.

“Today’s race was for a good cause.  I thought I’d be a little faster, but I’m fortunate that I can still run.  Many younger runners have already hung up their shoes,” Hawley said after finishing 131st overall and second behind Sergio Bianchini in the 70-over age group with a 27:13.

While Pacheco and Shaw were the overall winners, William Warner and Erin Reynolds were honored as the Masters champions.

Warner was sixth overall in 18:24 while Reynolds was 75th in 24:25.  

“I don’t like the short stuff as it just hurts too much,” the 58-year-old Warner said afterward.

“I ran the course before the race began, but these days I mainly run on trails.  I’ll probably get between 70-80 miles this week,” Warner, who finished fourth in his age group at the Boston Marathon in April, added.

Sharon Vaughn, who has served as the principal at Ringgold High School for the last seven years, got a chance to offer her thanks to everyone who participated.

“I have learned today that runners are very generous people.  We appreciate very much you coming out and supporting our cause today.  The spirit of Ringgold is stronger than ever today,” she said before the awards were presented.

“We can replace a lot of things with the proceeds from today’s event.  Many of our athletic facilities were totally obliterated, so the money from today’s race will help a whole lot,” she added.

The top three runners in each age group were recognized and their awards were bricks from buildings destroyed in the storm.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)


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