The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Gilpin, Tate Win 2013 Chickamauga Chase 15K Titles
Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gilpin, Tate Win 2013 Chickamauga Chase 15K Titles




CHICKAMAUGA , Ga. – The runners who gathered near Wilder Tower for the 45th running of the Chickamauga Chase 15K and 5K races couldn’t have had better weather Saturday morning.


With nary a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the mid 30s, it couldn’t have been a better setup for the most popular and longest running event on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule.


Jason McKinney won the 5K with a time of 18:08 as he beat runner-up Nathan Helton by 11 seconds.


Becca Umbarger was the first female to cross the finish line in the 3.1-mile race as she finished 13th overall in 21:26 .


John Gilpin won his first 15K ever as he beat defending champion Geno Phillips by 10 seconds.


Gilpin posted a time of 50 minutes, 57 seconds to win the 9.3-mile race while Phillips was second in 51:07.  Isaac Pacheco-Pulido led during the middle miles, but had to settle for third in 51:17.


Patrick Hall and Alan Outlaw completed the top five with times of 51:36 and 53:12, respectively.


Amanda Tate was the women’s winner in the 15K as she finished ninth overall in 59:53.  Julie Simmons was the second lady as she finished 20th in 1:02:20 .


A total of 465 runners completed the 15K while another 475 made it to the end in the 5K.


A trail run was added to the event for the first time and several hundred trail enthusiasts endured muddy trails, sometimes deep creeks and a few other obstacles to complete the distance.


Cullum Boyd and Kiersten Vradenburgh were the overall winners in this race, but no times were available for that event.


Jan Gautier was the female runner-up in the trail run.


McKinney is a 36-year-old assistant principal at Normal Park who had a personal best of 14:48 back in his college days.  He wasn’t nearly as quick on Saturday, but his body responded when push came to shove.


“It’s always hard to judge who’s doing the 5K when the two races start at the same time, but I tried to gain on the leader in the second mile and I really put the hammer down in the third,” McKinney explained.


“I really pushed hard in that last mile and I caught him (Helton) at about the three-mile mark.  I was just trying to get to the finish line at that point, but I still have a little get-up in my legs,” he added with a smile.


Gilpin is a 21-year-old UTC student who’s majoring in Exercise Science.  He’s a member of the cross country and track teams, but is red-shirting this year.  He’s done a lot of long runs with his teammates at the battlefield, but Saturday was his first attempt at the 9.3-mile distance.


“I went out with Geno from the start.  Then Isaac took the lead and I went with him.  I finally caught him between seven and eight in the hills, but I was just hoping my foot speed would be good enough to win today.


“Geno was coming hard at the end and I fully expected to have to outsprint him.  I’ll admit that I was looking over my shoulder on some of those curves, but I was looking to win today and I’m happy with my time,” Gilpin nodded shortly after finishing.


“We all stayed together for the first seven miles, but they pushed a little harder in the eighth mile,” Phillips recalled.


“I just tried to stay steady through the hills and I picked it up.  I gained on them, but I just couldn’t catch them.  Our first mile was slow ( 5:50 ), but I didn’t go any slower than 5:30 the rest of the way.  I was only three or four seconds off of last year’s winning time, so I’ll take it.


“It’s always fun when you can mix it up the guys in a race like this,” the 41-year-old middle school history teacher added with a smile.


Pacheco-Pulido is a senior at North Murray High School .  Saturday’s race was the third straight year that he had finished in third place.


“I think I lead from four to eight and maybe I should have put more distance on John at that point.  I was the one pushing through the hills, but after a while, my legs gave out.  My time was about a minute faster than last year, so I’m very happy.  Geno passed me in the final 800 meters,” he explained.


Hall hasn’t been racing as often as he has in years past, but like McKinney , he still has some fire in the furnace.


“That was my best time and my worst finish,” the 28-year-old TVA employee suggested.


“We had some really good competition here today, but they just took off when we got to the 10K split.  I ran faster than I expected as it was a beautiful day for a race.  It was good to dust off the old racing flats,” he added.


Tate is a 35-year-old physical therapist who was a standout for the Lady Mocs back in the 90s.  She had some minor foot surgery back in November, so Saturday’s race was her first since then.  Her goal was to break and hour and she did without a problem.


“This is my second time to run this race and I was the runner-up last time.  I’m real happy with today’s race.  This is my first race since the surgery and my foot felt good as I just tried to run consistent splits.


“It seemed like I was by myself the whole way.  Those hills between miles six and eight were tough, but I felt good the rest of the way and this is a personal record for me,” Tate said later.


Simmons is a 31-year-old teacher at Cloud Springs Elementary who also reached her goal.


“It was tough, but I felt pretty good until we got to the hills.  I’ve heard about this race for a long time so I decided to run this year.  I’m from Chickamauga and run her every weekend, but I was just hoping to break 63 today,” she smiled, knowing that she had plenty of time to spare.


Boyd is a 28-year-old real estate inspector who didn’t make up his mind about which race he’d enter until arriving on Saturday morning.  It appears that me made a good choice.


“I decided I’d have more fun on the trails.  Kevin (Boucher) and I went back and forth the whole way, but I finally caught him with about two miles to go.  We were sprinting to the finish as we both had the hammer down, but we had a lot of run,” Boyd said.


Vradenburgh finished second to Gautier at the River Gorge 6.5-mile trail run three weeks ago.  The results may have been the same on Saturday had Gautier not fallen near the end.


“It was an awesome experience,” the 22-year-old saleslady at Fast Break Athletics smiled afterward.


“Jan fell in the last mile.  She stayed down long enough for me to get by.  I was able to make a pass.  I stayed with her three weeks ago, but today I just waited for my opportunity,” she nodded.


Gautier had been in Knoxville for the Vol Classic track meet and didn’t get home until almost midnight .  That didn’t seem to slow her down too much.


“I was the first old lady to finish,” the 47-year-old Gautier laughed while talking to Amanda Tate.


“I fell right before we got back to the main road, but it was soft and sticky and I just did a face plant.  It was really slick as it felt like we were ice skating,” the Baylor School teacher and coach said.


Pat Hagan has probably logged as many miles on these roads as anyone when you count all of the Chickamauga Chases, Chickamauga Marathons and additional training runs.  Hagan will celebrate his 63rd birthday on Tuesday and he doesn’t pound the pavement like he once did, but he was good enough to cover the distance in the long race Saturday.


“I’m averaging about 20 miles a week, but I just got 10 this week and they were all today.  I ran about a mile before the race started,” he said before heading home.


While Hagan has been a regular in this event for many years, the same can be said for 64-year-old Gene Hodge.


:”This is my 30th straight year to do this race and I just did the 5K today.  It just feels good to run out here.  This is the only race I run anymore, but my daughter ran with me and my wife did the walk.  It’s a tradition for us,” he added.


While Hagan and Hodge are veterans on these courses, they can’t hold a candle to Jack McFarland, the 78-year-old fellow from Decatur , Ga.  McFarland has been part of ALL 45 Chickamauga Chases.  Saturday he walked the 5K in 1:07:26 .


George Skonberg served as the race director for the 18th straight year and again did a magnificent job of coordinating all of the events. 


He had to make a last-minute switch following Friday’s rain, so runners had to park at nearby Oakwood Baptist Church and were shuttled back and forth by local school buses.  The start of the race was delayed by some 30 minutes, but it all worked out just fine.


(Email John Hunt at


Chattanooga Track Club • 1014 Dallas Road • Suite 101 • Chattanooga, TN 37405 • (423) 842-6265