The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

JMHC 10k Recap
By John Hunt
Posted: Monday, October 12, 2015
Geno Phillips Wins Fourth Pumpkin Run 10K Title


It doesn’t matter if it’s sunshining or raining, hot or cold, Geno Phillips loves to run.

He also loves to win and that’s more often the case than not.

Such was the case at Moccasin Bend Saturday morning where the 44-year-old middle school teacher and coach splish-splashed his way to victory in the Joe Johnson Pumpkin Run 10K.

Phillips won for the umpteenth time this year as he covered the flat, out-and-back course in 34 minutes, 54 seconds, beating runner-up Dean Thompson by 11 seconds.

Tim Ensign was third in 36:29 while Ryan Shrum and Justin Guy followed with times of 36:56 and 37:19, respectively.

Keeley Stewart, a 22-year-old standout for the UTC Lady Mocs, was the women’s winner as she finished 10th overall in 40:50.

Jennifer Curtis was the female runner-up in 44:25 while Lisa Logan and Ashley Patrick followed with times of 44:48 and 44:53. That trio was 18th, 19th and 20th overall. Karen Leavitt was the fifth woman and 30th overall in 49:02.

It seems like several of the Chattanooga Track Club races this fall have been wet, so Saturday’s gathering was no exception. The best news of the day was that it wasn’t cold, so once the runners got warmed up, it was almost like they stayed refreshed for the distance with a constant water spray.

While some runners enjoy running in less than desirable conditions, Phillips isn’t one of them.

“I hate running in the rain,” he said after a few cool down miles with Thompson.

“Dean was really coming on at the end. I think I went out too fast, so I slowed down some after that, but my goal was to break 35 and I did so barely.

Phillips, like Ensign, is now a four-time winner in this race. He set his 10K PR of 32:55 while winning in 2005 and he later added victories in 2011 and 2012.
Thompson was hoping to run faster than 35:30, so he was more than happy with his time that far exceeded his expectations.

“I was very pleased with the results as I did a lot better than expected. I was able to run faster in the second half than the first and that’s always a good thing,” Thompson said later in the day.

“I got after Geno and got to within four seconds at one point as I closed the gap, but my body was done after five miles and I just couldn’t catch him. But it’s always a good day when you can run negative splits,” he added.

Ensign was victorious in this race 31 years ago and his winning time of 31:04 still stands as the course record. The 52-year-old speech writer for IBM had other goals in mind on Saturday.

“I was hoping to break 36:12, which is the state record for guys my age. I had a 36:29, but I slowed down too much and I was out of gas in the last couple of miles. Dean really tore it up and I guess I’m no longer the top 50-year-old,” he smiled before heading to his daughter’s middle school cross country meet.

Nothing seemed to work right for Stewart, who is doing her student teaching this fall before graduating in December. She admittedly has run much faster than her time on Saturday, but under the conditions, she was happy.

“My first mile wasn’t bad, but my shoe started falling off and I spent more time worrying about that than anything,” she began.

“I was hoping to get under 40 minutes, but this was just one of those days. Now I have to fix a flat tire on my car,” she concluded with a laugh.

The 33-year-old Curtis has been running strong in recent races. She really had a personal battle on Saturday, but was smiling afterward after winning that war.

“I’m actually happy with my time for the first time in a while. I haven’t been doing much running lately as I’m trying to let a few nagging injuries heal, so I just wanted to finish today. It seemed like I was hurting the whole way and wanted to give up, but I didn’t and I’m happy about that.

“It’s not a very nice day out, but I’d rather run in the rain than the heat,” she added.

One interesting fact about this race is the top six runners were all older than 40.

Phillips is 44, Thompson is 50, Ensign 52 and Shrum 48. Guy is the youngest at 42 while Tripp McCallie is 46 and finished sixth with a PR by 90 seconds with his 37:35.

Defending champion Mike Walker was not present to run on Saturday.

The next CTC race will be held on Oct. 24 when the annual Pie Run 10K is held on Signal Mountain. And unlike Saturday’s race, there are several significant hills in the Pie Run, but also some of the most spectacular views off the brow along Palisades Road.

(email John Hunt at


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