The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Wauhatchie Recap
Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015
Cheeseman Siblings Dominate Wauhatchie Trail Run
By John Hunt

Saturday was a record-breaking day for folks at the Wauhatchie Trail Run.

The overall course record that was set in 2000 was broken as was the old family mark that had been in place since 2006.

It was a brisk morning with clear skies and an occasional breeze, but otherwise perfect conditions for a race that’s been held on the side of Lookout Mountain for 31 years and starts and finishes at the Chattanooga Nature Center.

It’s a race like none other in that it’s handicapped by age and gender. Most folks got a headstart ranging anywhere from 15 seconds to 35 minutes, but those males in the 25-29 age group started when the clock struck zero.

Carter Cheeseman, the reigning Division II Tennessee state cross country champion, was the overall winner as he covered a challenging 6.7-mile course in 34 minutes, 50 seconds.
Dean Thompson was the runner-up in 35:47 while his close friend and training partner Tim Ensign was third in 35:52.
Daniel Goetz and Hunter Hall rounded out the top five with times of 36:42 and 38:33, but it was the 28-year-old Goetz who broke Rodney Stoker’s old mark of 37:04.

Claire Cheeseman, Carter’s older sister and also the reigning D-II state cross country champ, was the first female across the line as she finished 12th overall in 40:31.

Older sister Allison Cheeseman, now a 20-year-old sophomore at Davidson, was the second female as she finished two spots behind Claire with a time of 40:46.

Last year was the first time the Cheeseman family ran this race and Carter did really well as he finished second behind Ensign, who won for the 10th time in 2014. Knowing what to expect, he was more than ready for the challenge that includes a change in elevation of some 410 feet.

“I was expecting the hill this time and I was rolling on the downhills,” said Carter, who will celebrate his 15th birthday on Dec. 27.

“I was hoping to win today and my goal was to break 40 minutes. I got a 39:50, so I’m really happy. I do a lot of trail running in Nashville, but this is one of the best I do,” he said following the grueling run.

With Carter and Claire’s combined time of 1:15:21, they broke the old family record held by the Goetz brothers, Joseph and Daniel, which had been set in 2006 with a time of 1:16:43.

“It was hard to get going at the start as it took a little longer than normal for me to get warm,” Claire explained.

“I think I ran about what I ran last year, but this is definitely a race like no other,” the 17-year-old junior at Brentwood Academy added.

Daniel Goetz currently lives in Bend, Oregon where he serves as a coach for a professional women’s team. He graduated from Chattanooga Christian in 2005 before earning a degree from Bryan College in 2010.

Ironically, the course record he broke belonged to his old coach, who was at Bryant at the time.

“I think I was his first recruit when he started coaching there. I think this is my 11th time to run this race and I’ve been closing in on his record for a long time. This was the first time I really felt fit enough to get it,” Daniel explained while enjoying the warmth of the indoor room where runners gathered before and after the race.

“I talk to Rodney at least once a week and he’s the one who really got me started into serious running. I think I was about 45 seconds off the pace I needed at the four-mile mark, but I gained a lot of time in the last two miles that were basically downhill and flat.

“I set one record and lose another, so I guess it’s a bittersweet day. Those Cheeseman kids are amazing and they both ran really well today. But this is one of those events I always look forward to,” he concluded.

Ensign was the defending overall winner who had prevailed an amazing 10 times before Saturday’s race. He’s 53 now and just got beat by his buddy Thompson, who just turned 50 earlier this year.

“All good things have to come to an end, but I ran about what I thought I’d run today. Dean is younger than me. We ran together the whole way and we were even with about a mile to go, but he got me coming around that last curve about a quarter mile out.

“And Carter came blazing past us before we had gotten to the two-mile mark. I couldn’t even hear him breathing,” he said.

Thompson is running about as strong as he ever has and Saturday’s results was just another example of the level of fitness he’s reached in recent months.
“That hurt today as Tim made me run hard,” he began with a chuckle.

“He’s tough, tough and tough, but I finally got him in the last quarter mile. It was a little bit disheartening when Carter came cruising by and we hadn’t even gotten to the two-mile mark yet.

“It was a race for second from that point on, but it’s always fun to battle like that,” he added.

The overall winner and the family winner both receive the coveted Golden Antler Award.

(Email John Hunt at


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