The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Chris Berry, Leah Thomas Win Karen Lawrence Run For St. Jude
By John Hunt
Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2011

The 33rd Annual Karen Lawrence Run for St. Jude was held in downtown Chattanooga late Saturday afternoon and there was a surprise for the 398 finishers when they got to the finish line.


It has been billed for the past 32 years as a four-mile race that included two two-mile loops with a significant hill going up Sixth Street between Broad and MLK.


Saturday’s race went north on Broad before turning left on second, right on Chesnutt and then left on Riverfront Parkway.


The only hill on this route was a nice little incline on the curve before the intersection at MLK.  And while the advertised distance was supposedly four miles, more than one runner reported that it was closer to 4.5 and possibly 4.6 miles.


Therefore, the paces listed on the results are somewhat slower than they actually are since the distance was longer.


Whatever the case about the new course and the mystery distance, it didn’t seem to matter to Chris Berry or Leah Thomas.


Both were overall winners with Berry crossing the finish line in 21:56 and Thomas coming across in 15th place overall with an outstanding time of 27:29.


Berry’s margin of victory over runner-up Caleb Morgan was a minute and 39 seconds while the difference between Thomas and Emily Cooper was 2:51.


Patrick Hall, Allen Thurman and Patrick Shultz were third, fourth and fifth overall  with times of 23:57, 24:04 and 24:11, respectively.


Rounding out the top five ladies were Kiersten Vradenburgh, Mindy Williford and Rebecca Shearer with times of 31:27, 31:43 and 32:30, respectively.


While weather on New Year’s Eve can be unpredictable and often tricky, Saturday’s crowd had temperatures in the mid 50s with no wind to speak of. 


Berry ran alone from the start.  He intentionally bolted from the starting line and nobody was able to come anywhere close to keeping up.


“I went out hard from the opening horn,” the 22-year-old Berry explained shortly after finishing his task.


“The course was a little long, but I just came out to get a good workout and to have a little fun.  I really had no expectation other than a good tempo effort.


“I have no idea how far back Caleb was as I never turned around and looked, but I know he was second when we turned around,” the UTC standout continued.


Berry has been busy in recent weeks as he got married a few weeks back and just got back from his honeymoon.  He’s laying the groundwork for his final track season and he’s on target to get his MBA from UTC in May.


In addition to all of the holidays, he also managed to log 85 miles this week.


Morgan is a Lee University graduate who is now teaching elementary physical education for grades K-5 at CSAS.  He’s raced against Berry in the past, so he knew what his goals were when he walked to the starting line.


“My goal was to win this race until I saw Chris at the start.  Then I knew I’d be racing for second place,” the 24-year-old Morgan said later.


“The course was longer than I expected, so I kind of died in that final mile.  I feel like I had a good run, but I’d be able to tell you more about it if I knew the distance,” he added.


While Berry and Thomas were the overall winners, Hugh Enicks finished 10th overall in 25:51 to earn the Male Masters title.


Yoli Bell did the same for the ladies after a time of 32:39 allowed her to finish 55th overall.


Jacquie Winters and Michael Leary were Grand Masters winners with times of 34:56 and 31:36, respectively.


There were 398 finishers in the longer race and at least that many or more in the two-mile run/walk.


All of the proceeds from this event benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.


(Email John Hunt at



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