The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

By John Hunt
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015

Phillips, Marlier Win King Of Mountain Four-Miler Again 


By John Hunt


Geno Phillips is beginning to know his way around Lookout Mountain pretty well.


Jessica Marlier is pretty familiar with the four-mile route that’s better known as the King Of The Mountain road race.


Both were overall winners in the 11th Annual race on Saturday and both have been victorious three times now. But for a popular middle-distance race where proceeds benefit the scholarship fund at the Good Shepherd School, it was a tough test for every person who had the courage to enter.


Phillips has run this race six times now and his wins are spaced out pretty good, including the first one, again about six years later and then on Saturday.


What’s amazing is his time on all six races has been in a 10-second range from 21:50 to 22 minutes flat.

Saturday’s time was 21 minutes, 53 seconds as the 43-year-old middle school teacher and coach averaged 5:29 in winning for the fifth time this year.


Jack McGinness, a 22-year-old rising senior at the University of Georgia, was the runner-up in 22:17 while Joseph Goetz was third in 22:29. Dean Thompson was fourth in 22:57 while defending champ Matt Jenkins rounded out the top five with a fine time of 23:15, which was some 28 seconds slower than last year’s winning time.


Marlier has now won this event three straight years, Saturday’s time of 24 minutes and 31 seconds about 36 seconds slower than last year. But for someone who hasn’t done much serious racing since the Boston Marathon 19 days ago, she was 11th overall in a field that numbered 200 finishers and was darn proud of it.


Jennifer Curtis was the second female and 26th overall with a time of 27:53 while Ashley Patrick was the third lady and 31st overall in 29:06. Myra Brock and Lisa Logan were fourth and fifth among the women with times of 29:15 and 29:37, which was 34th and 38th overall, respectively.


Thompson and Logan were also the masters champions.


But on a day when temperatures rose as the time passed, Phillips and Goetz set a pretty good pace for the first mile or so, which just happened to be the toughest uphill segment of the race.


Goetz made a wrong turn, lost a few seconds and all of his momentum as he was never able to catch Phillips. McGinness was hanging close at the time and also took advantage of that wrong turn to finish second.


“I had a good run, but this is a tough course,” Phillips said later about his winning effort.


“Joe and I ran together for the first two miles or so, but he went straight where we were supposed to turn left. I waited for him, but I think he had a stitch or something and I was pretty much by myself the rest of the way.


“That first mile and a half really take it out of you, but Joe was the stronger runner today. But I’m still within that 10-second range and I’m thrilled about that,” he added.


McGinness, the grandson of the late, great Joe McGinness, had been busy with final exams in the last couple of weeks, so his training had to be cut back. It looks like it worked in his favor as he ran a really strong race and finished with a smile on his face.


“I really didn’t think I’d run that well as I just finished exams and haven’t been running much for the last couple of weeks. I used to run this course a bunch when I was in the seventh and eighth grade, but it’s been a while since I raced on it.


“I didn’t have any idea my time would be this fast,” he grinned.


Goetz is a 32-year-old energy analyst for TVA who can run as fast as anyone in Chattanooga on any given day. He has aspirations of winning on Saturday and appeared to be well on his way until he made the wrong turn.


“I was a few strides ahead of Geno, but I went off course a little bit and lost a few seconds. I kind of lost all my momentum after that. But this is an awesome course and I was hurting at the end, but it’s a good race,” he added with a smile.


Thompson is trying to get over a painful bout of plantar fasciitis. He really struggled a few weeks ago when he finished second to Phillips at the Chickamauga Chase 15K, but he appeared to be feeling much better this time.


“I did what I came to do. I was hoping to run a sub-23 and my time was 22:57. My foot feels much better right now, but it may be hurting later. I ran this race two years ago and it’s a fun event, but it hurts like crazy,” he added.


Thompson will doing the Chattanooga Half-Ironman next weekend with hopes of going under 4:50.


Marlier may not have run as fast as she did last year, but she really didn’t need to as she beat the female runner-up by more than three minutes.


“I’ve been taking it kind of easy since Boston, but my time was about what I expected,” the 29-year-old substitute teacher and GPS coach expressed.

“I’m happy with my race today, but it’s always challenging. It was nice to be racing again, but I just tried to keep Mark Malecky in sight the whole way,” she laughed.


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