The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Highlander, Morrison Win Chattanooga Chase 8K
Posted: Monday, May 28, 2012

Throw a little prize money out on the street and watch the fast runners appear at the starting line.

Such was the case at Riverview Park Monday morning as a host of runners gathered to start their Memorial Day celebration with a little exercise.


There were 302 who finished the 45th Chattanooga Chase 8K while another 66 took part in the one-mile race.


Alan Outlaw and Sarah Woerner were the defending champions in the longer race and both were present to race on Monday morning.


Outlaw was eight seconds slower and finished second while Woerner was 23 seconds faster and she was the runner-up as well.


Andy Highlander and Anneli Morrison, both former standouts for the Chattanooga Mocs, captured the overall wins and the biggest checks of the day.


Highlander covered the hilly five-mile course in 26 minutes and 50 seconds while Morrison was clocked in 30 minutes, 44 seconds, which was 11th overall.


While Highlander and Outlaw set the pace at the front, Troy Maddux was third overall in 27:14 while Caleb Morgan and James Teroilligo completed the top five with times of 27:36 and 27:51, respectively.


The women’s overall picture was extremely competitive as well with Morrison and Woerner finishing ahead of Erin Rayburn, who was third in 34:08.


Leslie Becht and Kiersten Vradenburg were fourth and fifth with Becht taking 26th overall in 34:27 and Vradenburg 29th in 34:46.


“I was scared to death in that last mile,” Highlander said, knowing that he had passed Outlaw just past the top of Minnekahda at the three-mile mark and was racing for his life to maintain the overall top spot.


“It’s a hard race.  I didn’t come here today expecting to run a fast time because of the course, but it’s one where you have to be tactical.  I led for the first mile because I just wanted everyone to have a fast start, but I sat back and let the race come to me in the second and third miles,” he continued, knowing a series of hills during that stretch can really take its toll on even the fastest runners.


“I was really motivated in that final mile, knowing that Alan was behind me.  He was in the back of my mind the whole way,” Highlander added after claiming his first Chattanooga Chase victory.


Highlander had finished as the runner-up to Patrick Hall two years ago, but he failed to show last year after sleeping through his alarm clock.


Outlaw is some 10 years older than Highlander.  He doesn’t have the speed of Highlander, but he has the strength and that’s what allowed him to be in first place at the top at the end of the last major climb.


“I wanted to break 27, but I came up a few seconds short,” Outlaw said.


“I got to the top of the hill first, but once we passed through that gate, Andy took off and I never saw him again.  I couldn’t close the gap as all of a sudden, I started feeling old.  Andy ran a great race.


“I haven’t done as much speed work as I need to do, but I’m training for Chicago,” the defending champ at the 7 Bridges Marathon added.


Perhaps the outstanding performance of the day should go to Morrison, who won despite running off course and having to backtrack once she realized her mistake.


“I’ve never run this course and I went straight when I should have turned left.  I was feeling good until I realized the mistake I had made.  We’ve done a lot of training over here, but I ran up some hills today I didn’t know existed,” the 24-year-old assistant track and cross country coach at UTC explained.


“Ryan Shrum yelled at me when I missed the turn, but I guess I didn’t hear him.  I was really excited about running this race as I had a stress fracture and missed about eight weeks of running.  This was my first race back and hopefully the beginning of some serious training,” Morrison added.


Woerner is a 22-year-old graduate-school student at UTC who’s majoring in exercise physiology.  She saw Morrison coming back after the missed turn, but she couldn’t take advantage of her competitor’s mistake.


“It felt a lot tougher than last year.  I tried to go out hard and just hang on, but Anneli deserved to win.  This is definitely the toughest road course in Chattanooga.  I’m just glad that Lanni (Marchant) didn’t decide to show up,” Woerner concluded.


Dean Thompson and Dianna Leun were honored as the overall masters winners with Thompson finishing sixth overall in 27:56 and Leun 32nd in 35:07.


It was the second time for Leun to run this race.  As a first-time member of the Chattanooga Track Club, she’s competing for Runner of the Year honors.


“This is not my favorite race,” the friendly 40-year-old registered nurse said after finishing the grueling event.


“It’s definitely a challenge.  My goal was to win the masters division, but there are some fast girls out there.  It’s a good race because it pushes you and it seems like the whole thing makes you hurt.


“I like the flat courses.  I just joined the track club this year and I’m running races that I normally wouldn’t run,” the mother of four explained afterward.


While Highlander and Morrison were the class of the field in the longer race, Joseph Goetz and Catherine Greenwall were the overall winners in the one-mile race.


Goetz crossed the line in 4:51, beating runner-up Morgan by seven seconds.  Tim Ensign was third in 5:02.


Greenwall was the first lady in 5:12 while Morrison and Woerner followed in 5:34 and 5:57, respectively.


“Very minimal training,” said Goetz, the 29-year-old TVA accountant said after he finished running.


“You can fake it for a mile, but I was trying to pace Tim.  I was by myself after the half-mile, but you never know who will show up.  I’ve been running about 20 miles a week and maybe 25 when I’m motivated,” Goetz added.


Ensign was shooting for the state record for one mile, but came up short by some eight seconds.


It was definitely an interesting day for the former Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon winner who is now 49.  His 84-year-old mother Jane also did the one mile and she got the record with a time of 27:17.


“I didn’t get it, but I’ll try again at the Market Street Mile in June,” Tim said.


“I feel pretty sure I can do it as my mother will inspire me.  I did a 4:51 on the track a couple of weeks ago, but that’s totally different from a road race.  My mother’s been watching me compete for the last 38 years and it’s really neat to see her out here today,” Tim added.


Jane was the last person to finish the one-mile race and she also received the biggest ovation.  She crossed the finish line with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.


“We didn’t go very fast, but I was hoping to break 30 minutes and I did,” she said.


“I knew I could make it because I’m been walking around this park twice a day getting ready.  I feel like I’ve accomplished something today as I was never very athletic growing up.


“I couldn’t let the Ensign name down, but I just want to encourage others who don’t feel very athletic to get out here and do something.  It just makes me feel good all over,” she nodded.


Monday’s race was the 45th running of the Chase, which is the oldest race in the Chattanooga area.  Fast Break Athletics was the main sponsor.


(email John Hunt at


Chattanooga Track Club • 1014 Dallas Road • Suite 101 • Chattanooga, TN 37405 • (423) 842-6265