The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Tim Ensign Wins Fifth Straight Wauhatchie Trail Run
By John Hunt
Posted: Monday, December 22, 2014

Tim Ensign Wins Fifth Straight Wauhatchie Trail Run

Claire Cheeseman First Female And Part Of Family Winner

Saturday, December 20, 2014 - by John Hunt

Tim Ensign is still an outstanding and competitive runner, even at age 52.

Give him a head start and he’s almost impossible to beat.

Such was the case at the Chattanooga Nature Center on Saturday morning for the 30th annual Wauhatchie Trail Run.

This is a one-of-a-kind race where runners are handicapped in time, based on their age and gender.


Tim Ensign Wins Fifth Straight Wauhatchie Trail Run

Claire Cheeseman First Female And Part Of Family Winner

Saturday, December 20, 2014 - by John Hunt

Tim Ensign is still an outstanding and competitive runner, even at age 52.

Give him a head start and he’s almost impossible to beat.

Such was the case at the Chattanooga Nature Center on Saturday morning for the 30th annual Wauhatchie Trail Run.

This is a one-of-a-kind race where runners are handicapped in time, based on their age and gender.

It’s also one of the toughest on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule as it includes 6.7 miles of trails on the side of Lookout Mountain.  There are some serious hills – a real toughie between the second and third mile – and it can be tricky and treacherous as there are lots of fallen leaves covering rocks and roots that can be a runners’ worst nightmare.

But on a day when temperatures were ideal and skies were somewhat overcast, Ensign used his five and a half minute advantage to win this race for the fifth straight time and 10th time overall as he finished in 36 minutes, 24 seconds.  Add his handicap of 5:30 and his time of 41:54 is still outstanding for a tough and challenging event.

Carter Cheeseman was the runner-up in 37:04.  The 13-year-old eighth grader at Brentwood Academy had a five-minute advantage, but he couldn’t catch Ensign, who knows this course better than the back of his hand.

Dean Thompson was third in 37:11 while Daniel Goetz was fourth in 39:33.

Claire Cheeseman, Carter’s 16-year-old  sister who is a sophomore at Brentwood Academy, claimed fifth place overall and the first female with a time of 40:18.

But on a day when really dedicated runners show up, the food and fun and fellowship are unsurpassed at any other running event.

Ensign was thrilled with his latest performance.  He had his arms thrust high over his head in the final stretch as he knew that victory was his with less than a hundred yards to go.

“That’s number 10, baby, and I’ll take it,” he said in reference to the number of times he’s won this race in the 30-year history.

“I just turned 52 on December 11, so my birthday is at a perfect time for this race, but it’s been another good year for me.  I just want to dedicate this race to my good friend Van Townsend, who’s in the fight of his life with cancer right now.  Nobody loves running like Van does, but I was thinking about him as I was going up those hills as he really sucked on hills.  But my goal was to win for the tenth time and I did it,” he smiled.

Cheeseman, the son of former Chattanoogans Ken and Cathy Cheeseman, had gotten a preview of this event from his mother, but even her description couldn’t do justice to the hill known as “Big Daddy.”

“My mother had told me about this course, but it was harder than I thought,” he said shortly after finishing.

“The hills killed me as they were some of the toughest I’ve ever run, but it was really fun and I look forward to doing it again next year,” Carter, who will turn 14 on Dec. 27, added.

Older sister Claire, who finished third in the state cross country meet with a time of 19:06 for 5K, had similar feelings as her brother.

“It was really hard, but I felt good for the most part.  We do a lot of trails in training, but that one hill was tough,” she said quietly.

Sue Anne Brown was honored afterward for being a 25-time participant.  She was the overall winner in 1991.  She also remembers breaking her arm just past the three-mile mark two years later, but the 68-year-old still loves doing runs like this.

Her time of 48:01 was good enough for 31st place after an advantage of 24:45 at the start.

“I feel great.  There are rocks hidden under the leaves, but I didn’t fall this year.  I came close, but I was wearing ankle braces today.  But you know that I love running by myself and the solitude you get on this course is unlike any other place in town,” she smiled.

Shannon Wood finished 11th in 42:44, but the 41-year-old from Hopkinsville, KY was just happy to be present for the 23rd time and 21st straight.

“This is a heck of a unique race especially with the handicapped times at the start.  I haven’t been doing as much running as in years past, but I’m really happy with where I was today.

“Those are some tough hills at the start, but not quite as bad after that.  It was fulfilling when I got to the top, knowing that I was going back down,” he explained.

Hank McMahon is a 59-year-old Chattanoogan who has expanded his running experiences this year and was running this race for the first time.

“The flat parts were great, the hills were tough and the switchbacks were deceiving, but it was a lot of run.  I would recommend it to anyone who loves being outdoors,” he expressed after finishing 68th overall in 58:27.

While Ensign was the recipient of the prestigious and valued Golden Antlers Trophy as the overall winner,  Carter and Claire Cheeseman won the same award as the family winners with a combined time of 1:17:22.

Ensign and his wife Barbara took second place in the family competition with a combined time of 1:24:29 after Barbara claimed 33rd overall in 48:05.

Third place went to the Vrandenburgh sisters, including 14-year old Katheryn, who was 10th overall in 42:08, and 20-year-old Karla, who was 15th in 44:19.  Their combined time was 1:26:27.

Daniel Goetz and his brother Joseph were the family winners last year with a combined time of 1:21:47.

Daniel finished fourth overall on Saturday with a time of 39:33, but bother Joseph was out of the country and obviously not present.

“I didn’t kill myself today like I have in previous years, but this is probably the best race in Chattanooga and the most unique for sure,” the 27-year-old Daniel said afterward.

Rodney Stoker, who was the winner in 2000 with a time of 36:49, is the course record holder with a 37:04 as he had a 15-second break that year.

Complete results will be posted later today.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)


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