The Chattanooga Track Club

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Noble, Huwe Win Chattanooga Chase 8K Titles
By John Hunt
Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Noble, Huwe Win Chattanooga Chase 8K Titles

By John Hunt

It was your typical hot and humid Memorial Day morning in North Chattanooga on Monday for the 52nd Annual Chattanooga Chase, but that didn’t seem to matter as a huge group of running enthusiasts gathered for the oldest race on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule and certainly one of the most challenging.

Christian Noble is a 22-year-old senior at Lee University who just earned All-America honors after finishing fifth in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the Division II National Championship on Friday. He flew back into Chattanooga on Sunday night, just in time to win the Chase with a time of 25 minutes, 32 seconds.

Brandon Hudgins, the defending champ for this event, ran a second faster than last year with a time of 26-minutes flat, but he had to settle for the runner-up spot.

Derek Gallardo was third in 26:29 while Seth Ruhling and Kevin Huwe were fourth and fifth, respectively, with times of 26:39 and 27:26.

Jennifer Huwe had finished third in this race last year with a time of 34:15, so she was thrilled to knock two minutes off of that time while claiming the overall women’s title after finishing 33rd overall.

Catie Campbell, who is a training partner and good friend of Huwe, was the second female as she finished 36th overall in 32:21.

Lindsay Mies, Lilly Smith and Jennifer Stocks completed the top five for the ladies with times of 33:47, 35:12 and 36:23, respectively.

Temperature and humidity levels were high at the start of the main event, but they were even higher at 10 a.m. when the one-mile race began.

Hudgins was first overall in 4:24 while Gallardo and Ruhling followed with times of 4:42 and 4:50.

Kathryn Vradenburgh was the overall women’s winner in the one mile as she claimed 18th overall with a time of 5:28. Huwe and Campbell followed with times of 5:43 and 5:47.

“I ran this race last year for the first time and knew just how tough the course was, but I flew back into town last night just in time to run again today,” the 22-year-old senior who is majoring in Public Relations said shortly after finishing the race on the road next to Riverview Park.

“I was a bit more tired this year and wasn’t really expecting to win, but I took the lead just past the one-mile mark and basically ran by myself the rest of the way. I knew that if I could get to the top of the hill (Minnekahdah) before anyone else that I would be fine,” he added.

Hudgins is a 32-year-old running coach from High Point, N.C. who is good friends with race director Alan Outlaw and the late, great Cameron Bean. He knew that Noble may have been a bit on the tired side and he tried to take advantage of that fact, but his plan backfired.

“I knew that Christian has just run a hard race on Friday and I did my best to make him pay by going out harder than maybe I should have, but he blasted up Minnekahdah and dropped me at that point,” Hudgins explained with a smile.

“I went out really hard in the early miles trying to drop the young pup, but he was on another level today. I was really good friends with Cameron Bean and he’s one of the reasons I come to run this race.

“I stayed with the Outlaws last night and I’ll spend tonight with Cameron’s parents, so it’s a good chance to reconnect with some good friends,” Hudgins added.

Huwe and Campbell train together several days a week, but Monday was Campbell’s first time to run this course and that was a fact that Huwe took advantage of.

“I ran two minutes faster than last year, so I’m thrilled with the results,” said Huwe, the friendly 29-year-old quality control employee of McKee bakery who basically “taste tests Little Debbies for a living.”

“Everything felt pretty good until we started up Minnekahdah. I laid down the hammer on the way down and eventually passed Catie on the last hill at the start of the final mile,” Huwe nodded.

Campbell is a 26-year-old speedster from Columbus, Ohio who moved to Chattanooga in the last year to take a job as an Academic Advisor in the UTC athletic department. Her race plan may have been different if she had been more familiar with the course.

“I’ve never run this race before and it was tough,” she began while cooling down afterward.

“I didn’t realize there was one more hill and that’s where she pulled away. But I’m really pleased as I didn’t expect to run so well today. If I had known about that last hill, I might have conserved a little energy in the earlier miles. We train together several times each week so today was a fun experience for us both,” Campbell said.

Ruhling won this race in 2016 and hasn’t run it since. He’s currently in school at East Tennessee State University where he’ll graduate in December with his masters in Nursing after earning his undergraduate degree at Southern Adventist University. He’s also planning to get married about the same time, so exciting things are on the horizon for this 24-year-old triathlete.

“It was fun and hot as normal, but Christian and Brandon are top-notch runners and in a different league from me. I’ve been really busy with other areas of my life and really didn’t have any expectations for today’s race, but I’m super happy as I was a minute faster than when I won in 2016,” Ruhling said.

While there were 558 finishers in the longer race, another 180 crossed the finish line in the one-mile that was designated as the Road Runner’s Club of America’s Tennessee state championship for that distance.

Vradenburgh has run the longer race in previous years, but didn’t on Monday as she concentrated on the shorter one.

Her decision paid off in a positive way.

“It was hot, but I felt fast today,” the 18-year-old home-schooled graduate said later. She has plans to attend Dalton College in the fall where she will major in Business Management.

“I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d be able to do, but I couldn’t be more happy with my placing. My personal record for one mile is 5:12, but that was on a track and this course had a little hill in it,” she said.

Hudgins was the defending champ for the 8K while Jessica Marlier had won the women’s division for the past two years. Noble and Kiera Weems were the defending champions for the one mile.

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