The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Berry, Marchant Repeat Winners In Missionary Ridge Race
By John Hunt
Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chris Berry and Lanni Marchant were both victorious in their first race at Missionary Ridge last year.
 They liked it so much that they came back and did it again Saturday morning.
 It was a typical August morning for this 38th annual event, a challenging 4.7-mile foot race that starts at Bragg Reservation and goes out South Crest Road before looping around East Crest and returning to the finish at Bragg.
 It was sunny and hot, but as always, there were lots of residents along the way who created their own water sprays with garden hoses while cheering the runners as they passed.
 There were also a few hills along the way, but this is a unique course.  It challenges each runner with several climbs, yet rewards them almost immediately with a nice downhill slope. 
 It’s one of those courses where runners can’t lie about their fitness level and get away with it.  The fit ones do well while everyone else struggles and frequently walks.  It qualifies as one of the more difficult courses on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule.
 Berry is in graduate school at UTC and preparing for his final cross country season for coach Bill Gautier’s Mocs.  He’s been putting in some mega-mileage weeks.  He proved on Saturday that he’s about ready for the season to begin.
 Taking off like a bullet from the start, the 22-year-old Chattanoogan was never challenged.  He was hoping for a time “in the low 23s,” but he had to settle for 23:45 as he beat runner-up and UTC teammate Mark Cole easily.
 Cole posted a time of 25:21 while Chattanooga Chase champion Alan Outlaw was third in 26:02.
 Dean Thompson, a 45-year-old speedster from Cohutta, won the Men’s Masters title as he finished fourth overall in 26:10.
 Isaac Pacheco, the winner in June’s Run For Ringgold 5K, rounded out the top five with a time of 26:27.
 Marchant finished 30 seconds behind Pacheco as she improved last year’s time by three seconds.  Tara Gietema was 11th overall and second among the ladies with a 29:17 while Sarah Woerner was 18th overall and third among the females in 31:22.
 Jan Gautier, who has won this race more than anyone else, was the Women’s Masters winner in 33:53, which was 38th overall in the field that included 223 finishers.
 Kiersten Vradenburgh also had an outstanding run to finish fifth among the women in 34:37, which was 48th overall.
 Berry is looking to finish his final collegiate cross country season with a bang.  It appears that he’s right on track to do just that.
 “I wanted something in the low 23s and I was on pace, but I overcompensated on the long hill in the fourth mile,” Berry said after a three-mile warmdown run.
 “I’ve been doing a lot of miles in recent weeks, but I’m pointing toward the end of November,” he continued, referring to the NCAA cross country national championship.
 “This is really a tough course.  You’re either going up or down, but I love the atmosphere.  My goal was to win again and to get in the low 23s, so I’m happy with the results.
 “I left a lot out there in those middle miles, but I felt really fit today.  I’m sure I’ll probably relax this afternoon, but I may go out for an easy four or five miles later,” Berry concluded.
 Cole is a 20-year-old junior at UTC who is majoring in Bio-Chemistry.  He’s from McKenzie, Tn and he too is gearing up for outstanding things this fall.

He didn’t make his final decision to enter until he ran the course Friday night.
 “I started off conservative because I knew the hills would take their toll eventually.  I just wanted to run my own race and that’s what I did.
 “I’m really excited about the upcoming season.  I like running up here, although I didn’t decide to enter until I ran it one more time last night,” Cole added.
 Marchant was brilliant at UTC but has since finished law school and currently waiting on results from the bar exam.
 She’s a petite 27-year-old from London, Ontario who is pointing toward the Chicago Marathon in October.  She’s also been working as a volunteer assistant with the Baylor girls.
 That makes for a nice fit since she’s working for Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss.  The Baylor coach is Heather Ott, who just happens to be Lee’s wife.
 “I’m not in my best shape, but I have been enjoying running with the Baylor girls in recent weeks.  I’ve been doing a lot of training so today I was itching to do something different.
 “This course is a good one to test your fitness.  I think I’m more fit than I feel.
 “I’m building for Chicago, but I will run  the 10K national championship in Canada in September where I hope to improve on last year’s third-place finish,” she added, noting that her time a year ago was 34:36.
 Saturday’s race proceeds benefited the local chapter of the American Red Cross and  from Dalton who died during this race in 2007.
 Dan Bailey served as the race director of this event for a number of years, but he was a participant Saturday morning.
 “All I did to help was give my contact information to the new race director and help him a little this morning,” the 68-year-old staunch Ohio State fan explained.
 “This is still a tough course as it has hills and heat.  There’s a lot of history here, but I finished.  You know the split timers at the mile marks normally call out your time as you pass.  Today, they were telling me it was still August 13th and that made me feel good,” Bailey laughed.
 Several older runners were reminiscing about prior Missionary Ridge races.  Perhaps the biggest took place in 1983 when Wendy’s was the sponsor and more than 1,500 runners completed the distance that day.
 (Email John Hunt at


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