The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Tim Ensign Wins Wauhatchie Trail Run Again
By John Hunt
Posted: Saturday, December 15, 2012

Maybe they should rename the Wauhatchie Trail Run the Tim Ensign Trail Run.


Ensign, who has been an outstanding runner for more than three decades, celebrated his 50th birthday on Tuesday and that gave him an additional 90 second advantage in Saturday’s race,  the 28th annual 6.7-mile handicapped race at the Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center.


It’s the toughest race on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule with a net-elevation gain of 410 feet on the side of Lookout Mountain. The worst part is the first half.  While there are still some climbs in the second half, it's nothing compared to the first three miles. 


It’s also the most unique.  Using a pre-determined handicapped scale, the females aged 80 and older got the largest head start of 45 minutes plus while those males aged 25-29 are considered the fastest group and got no advantage.


Ensign had an additional 5:30 to work with, so add that to his overall winning time of 35:46 and his total time was 41:16, which is still outstanding for a course that includes gravel, leaves and a slope on the side of Lookout Mountain that slows even the most fit runners present.


Sergio Bianchini was second as he finished in 36:38.  This 71-year-old stud had a 16-minute head start, but it still wasn’t enough.


Jan Gautier was third overall in 38:20 and the first female.


Patrick Hall and Daniel Goetz were fourth and fifth with times of 38:30 and 38:43, respectively.


Weather conditions were about perfect.  Overcast skies yielded a light rain for a short time.  And while it was cool, it wasn’t cold and windy like it has been in years past.


Ensign was in Lexington, Kentucky last weekend taking part in the USA Track & Field Cross Country Nationals where he posted a time of 36:20 for the 10K and helped an outstanding team from Chattanooga finish fifth out of 25 teams.


“That was about as good as I could do today as I needed every second I could get,” he said after winning this race for the eighth time.


“I was getting scared as I never saw Sergio, but he was my motivation to run hard today.  I was hoping to run a little faster, but I’m happy,” Ensign smiled.


Bianchini is an outstanding runner in his own right and will celebrate his 72nd birthday on Feb. 25.  He’s quick on his feet and came within three-quarters of a mile of winning on Saturday.


“Tim beat me by 10 seconds last year, but he got an extra minute and a half,” Sergio said, he himself not saying that he had started 10 and a half minutes before Ensign took off.


“He passed me at the six-mile mark and he was really going.  I tried a little harder this year, but maybe I’ll win in three years when I turn 75.


“This race is beautiful and challenging.  I love it.  I guess it will be three years before I win, but he’s good,” Sergio nodded.


Gautier had been the runner-up in the past, but she was perfectly content with being third.


“The best I ever got was second, but it’s an honor to lose to guys like Tim and Sergio.  It also didn’t hurt that I got an extra 11 minutes at the start.  This is a tough run, but the second half is easier than the first.


“I always think about Chris Presley, who was instrumental in getting women to run this event.  She loved this race more than anyone and I always think about her when I come out here for it,” Gautier said about Presley, who died several years ago from breast cancer.


Connie Petty is a 46-year-old physical therapist who is the head of therapy at Center for Sports Medicine.  Saturday was the first time she had taken part in this annual event, but it won’t be her last.


“What a fun race.  Jim (Steffes) started working with us as our CFO and he encouraged me to do it today.  I promise I’ll be back next year.  My neighborhood is all ups and downs, so this wasn’t too bad.


“We were out in God’s creation enjoying a beautiful day with a nice run.  What could possibly be better than that?” she added.


Debbie Gates was the dominant female in the Chattanooga Track Club back in the mid 80s and she’s done this race a bunch of times. She took part on Saturday after a break of at least 10 years, but she was also celebrating her 56th birthday.


“I just thought this would be a great way to celebrate my birthday.  I had a really good run as I ran with Sue Minton.  I found out that we’re about the same age and have been running about the same number of years.  I’ve never been one to chatter a lot on the run, but today, we had a nice conversation.


“I also got a call from my brother Bo, who called during the race to wish me a happy birthday.  I don’t think he realized I was doing this race today,” she said, referring to her infamous brother Bo Watson.


Gates was 31st in 48:30.


Belinda Young, Lynda Webber  and Bernice Delaney all did the Lookout Mountain 10K before coming down the hill to do Wauhatchie.  Young was 41st overall in 49:49 while Webber and Delaney were 44th and 84th with times of 50:23 and 1:02:32, respectively.


Kathryn Vradenburgh, Jonathan Boyd and Joshua Albertus were the youngest runners at age 12 with Vradenburgh leading the way with her time of 47:33, which was 26th overall.


Jean Horgan was the oldest participant at age 84 who finished in 1:16:47 after getting a headstart of 40:15.


Sue Anne Brown was recognized for having run 23 of the 28 Wauhatchie runs.  She was 11th overall in 43:06 after getting a 24:45 advantage at the start.  Brown had a less than memorable race here several years back when she fell on the trail and broke her arm.


While Ensign captured one of the coveted Golden Antlers trophy as the overall winner, the family trophy went to brothers Bradley and Bob Adams who ran together and finished sixth and seventh overall with times of 39:08 and 39:09, respectively.


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