The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

By John Hunt
Posted: Monday, September 29, 2014

Chad Hon Excels In Ironman Chattanooga

By John Hunt

Matt Hanson and Angela Naeth may have been the overall winners in the initial running of the Ironman Chattanooga, but there were quite a few local folks who had outstanding performances.

Hanson is the 29-year-old pro from Storm Lake, Iowa who was the overall winner in eight hours, 12 minutes and 32 seconds while Naeth was the women’s victor with a blistering time of 8:54:55 in her third race of this distance.

Most Ironman races include a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride followed by a 26.2-mile marathon, but Chattanooga’s race had a bike segment that was four miles longer. However, the swim was point-to-point down the Tennessee River, so any time lost on those extra bike miles was gained on the swim.

Hanson beat runner-up Daniel Bretscher out of the water by four seconds, but was 26 seconds slower on his bike split. However, Hanson blistered the marathon course to post a time of 2:47:40 in that segment to win by a comfortable margin of 6:23.

“My coach put together a great plan for me today, but it was nice to see everything come together on the same day,” Hanson said while sitting down for the first time since early Sunday morning.

“I’ve really had some great runs lately, but I went out about five seconds a mile faster than I should have and I really struggled the last four miles,” he added after posting a personal best by more than 13 minutes.

Bretscher won Ironman Wisconsin three weeks ago with an 8:31 while Hanson finished fifth in the same race. Bretscher had a PR by more than 10 minutes, but it wasn’t enough to get first place.

“I wasn’t that great on the swim and I just tried to bide my time on the bike. I knew the run course was really challenging. I just wasn’t strong enough today, but I’m really happy to get second.

“I should have been a bit more aggressive on the bike, but my legs started feeling it around the 17-mile mark of the run,” he smiled.

Naeth is a 32-year-old speedster originally from Prince George, Canada who now calls Las Vegas home. Not only did she too have a personal best “by quite a bit,” but this is a special weekend for her as she and her husband celebrated their first anniversary on Monday.

“I was hoping to have a good race, but the weather was perfect. There were a lot of folks on the course as there was great support from the spectators, but I just wanted to race to my potential today.

“I was shooting for this race here today, but I also wanted to have fun in the process. It was a pretty awesome experience,” she nodded.

Naeth was 19th overall while the women’s runner-up Ruth Brennan Morrey was 24th in 9:09:39.

“I really enjoyed the swim and I was hoping to have negative splits on the bike, but I knew that I was losing ground on the leader. Angela just had a fantastic bike split,” she praised the winner.

“This was my first Ironman and my pro debut. I came here to win, but it was a perfect course with a lot of excited volunteers,” the 38-year-old mother of three from Rochester, Minnesota said.

Patrick Evoe was the top-seeded pro with a personal best of 8:30, but he didn’t have a very good day and finished 15th in 8:49:45.

“I really didn’t know how it would pan out after doing Louisville five weeks ago. I felt okay, but not spectacular. I was working hard to make up ground. It was a very challenging run course and I felt great for the first 18 miles, but my legs went from hero to zero and I did quite a bit of walking at the end.

“I gave it all I had and I really enjoyed the experience, but I’m happy to be finished,” the 37-year-old pro said after finishing his 30th Ironman.

While all of those pros turned in some incredible times and looked good doing it, the same could be said for a host of Chattanoogans who took part, many of them covering the distance for the first time.

Peter Hurley crashed on a training ride a few weeks ago and suffered a fractured elbow, but that didn’t keep him from finishing in 13:21:31. And considering the fact that the 57-year-old executive for a local bike manufacturer had quadruple bypass surgery some 12 years ago, Sunday’s race was a great experience for him.

“I had a great day, although there were a lot of emotional ups and downs. After having heart surgery 12 years ago, this was a big deal for me today. My goal was to break 14 hours and I beat it. My arm was hurting some during the bike ride, but it was okay,” Hurley said as he headed toward the food tent.

Autumn Friday is a 37-year-old engineer for Hamilton County who also did really well in her first Ironman as she finished in 13:19:18. Her career as a triathlete has really taken off in recent years and Sunday’s race was just icing on the cake for the mother of two sons ages 13 and 10.

“It was a hard day, but totally worth it. My goal was 14 hours and I beat it, so I’m on top of the world. I think I’d like to try it again next year, but I’ve had enough chicken broth to hold me for a while,” she laughed.

Sheridan Ames did his first Ironman in 2007 at Hawaii, but his time of 10:40:17 was more than 47 minutes faster and he beat his good friend Bruce Novkov by more than 14 minutes.

“Everything went according to plan. My run wasn’t great, but it got me to the finish line. I was hoping for a sub-12 today. I guess Bruce was upset I beat him so bad that he’s already gone home,” Ames laughed.

Brian and Joanna Crooks both had substantial personal bests as 50-year-old Brian had a time of 11:31:10 and his wife a 13:56:12.

“I got a PR by almost an hour on a course four miles longer than it should have been. I really had a lot of fun today and I just tried to stay calm,” the 46-year-old CPA for Life Care of America said with a big grin.

“I also had a PR by more than an hour, although I didn’t have a very good run,” Brian said.

“I had my best time on the swim by more than 30 minutes and I had a super-fast bike time. I was hoping to average 19 miles an hour and I was at 20 today,” he said after finishing his fourth Ironman.

George Skonberg is a 62-year-old senior vice president at UBS and now a two-time Ironman.

“That was my second and my last Ironman,” the long-time race director for the Chickamauga Chase said shortly after finishing with a time of 14:18:15.

“I’m old enough to know better. I left my race on the bike ride, but it was still a finish. I had a great swim and a very good bike ride, but a terrible run. All in all, I had a great day,” he said after finishing 1853rd overall.

Ricky Park, who works at UBS with Skonberg and is several years younger, had just hoped to get under the 17-hour deadline as he hasn’t done much running in recent years. He’s done plenty of biking and very little swimming, but he still managed a respectable time of 12:09:40.

Park had a 55:56 split in the swim before covering the 116-mile bike segment in 5:25:47. His marathon time was only five seconds faster than his bike, but that didn’t matter to him.

Looking through the results late Sunday night, several familiar names popped up with their results.

Those included Chad Hon with a 9:47:09, Tad Bromfield in 13:17:37, Mark Malecky in 11:02:32, Tom Sell in 11:05:18, David Buntin in 11:05:57, Missi Johnson in 13:56:23, Sal Coll in 11:28:54 and Billy Collier in 13:03:59.

There was also a "John Hunt" listed in the results with a great time of 11:07, but it wasn't this writer.

(Email John Hunt at








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