The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Lucas dominates River Gorge Trail Race
By John Hunt
Posted: Monday, April 17, 2006
If you want to really make a tough trail run challenging, just let a heavy thunderstorm come blowing through the night before the scheduled event.

That was exactly the case on Friday, March 31 on the eve of the Rock Creek Outfitters River Gorge Trail Race that was contested at Prentice Cooper State Forest on Signal Mountain.

A difficult 10.2-mile route was made even more difficult as the rocks and roots were slick and muddy from the monsoon that hit the night before. But that didn't seem to have a negative impact on 39-year-old Barry Lucas as he cruised to the overall victory in one hour, 14 minutes and 44 seconds.

The race for the runner-up spot was much more competitive as Huntsville's Jonathan Krichev outlasted Chattanooga's Geno Phillips to take the second spot with a time of 1:19:08 while Phillips was third in 1:20:21.

Michael Green was fourth in 1:22:28 with Cory Hall rounding out the top five with a 1:22:53.

Chattanooga's Heather Stone, a 28-year-old police officer, was the overall female winner as she crossed the finish line in 1:34:52, which was 20th overall in the field that included 103 finishers.

Kris Whorton was the second female as the 40-year-old Chattanooga claimed 23rd overall in 1:36:25 while Huntsville's Amber Keller was the third lady to finish in 1:41:56.

Lucas, who owns a software company in Maryville, was third in last year's race.  His time in 2006 was some two minutes faster.  He tried to be a bit more careful with the additional water on the course, but that didn't seem to slow his pace.

"I'm older and wiser this year," he laughed while relaxing as he waited for the awards ceremony to begin.

"I had a good run today.  I just wanted to stay upright through the rock garden.  I only fell once.  But I'm really happy with my time.  I was all alone by the time we got to the first water station (at three miles), but I kept looking over my shoulder for Geno," Lucas added.

Krichev, a 29-year-old doctor who has a family practice and was one of eight participants from Huntsville, has trail running experience, but the course was tougher than he expected.

"It was more challenging than I thought it would be and a whole lot less flat.  It was much more technical in places.  I tried to keep up with him (Lucas) for the first three miles, but he took off at that point and I just tried to keep anyone else from passing me," he said as he prepared to leave.

Phillips was planning to run the Boston Marathon two weeks later, but he's always willing to accept a challenge and a tough trail run wasn't about to change his mind.

"I didn't know what to expect.  With Boston coming up, I really didn't want to run too hard, but this was something different.  This is my third trail run.  I still like running on the roads, but these kind of events are a lot of fun," the 34-year-old middle school history teacher expressed.

Stone was an accomplished track star in college as she ran for Sewanee, but in recent years, she's gotten hooked on trail running and adventure races in general.  Her main goal was to run faster than last year and she did so by more than two minutes.

"I'm pleased.  It's always nice to be running on trails, but my goal was to beat last year's time.  I really didn't expect to win.  But I love trail running.  My legs don't hurt as much as running on the roads," Stone suggested.

Whorton is currently training for a 7-day stage race in Switzerland, which will be held in July.  After completing the course the first time and socializing a little bit, she and her husband Randy went out and covered the distance again.  And their plans for the following day included a 30-mile run, so she still had a lot of energy to burn when she stopped the first time.

"My run was okay, but not great.  We'll do it again in a few minutes, but I think I did better than I expected.  It was a beautiful day to be out here.  There was a lot more water on the course, but all that does is make it more technical and more fun," the UTC English professor said with a smile.

While Lucas and Stone were the overall winners in the 10.2-mile race, 15-year-old Leighton Steadman was victorious in the 6.5-mile shorter event as he covered the distance in 52:05.  Taylor Gonsoulin was the runner-up in 52:24 while Zack Hubbard was third in 52:45.

Jan Gautier was fifth overall and the first woman in the shorter race as she finished in 56:29.  Alicia Dumont finished ninth overall in one hour, five seconds to take second among the ladies.

David Cook, the defending champ in the 6.5-mile race, finished 10th overall in 60:49 as 102 contestants finished the shorter race.

While almost every participant had scrapes and bruises from at least one fall along the way, one person reportedly broke an arm while Billy Watson suffered a severe gash on his knee and had to get stitches after hobbling more than two miles back to his car.

Proceeds from the event benefitted the Cumberland Trail Conference.


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