The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Missionary Ridge Recap!
By John Hunt
Posted: Tuesday, August 09, 2016



It was hot and muggy at Bragg Reservation.  In other words, the usual conditions for the annual Missionary Ridge Road Race.


The oppressive temperature didn’t seem to slow overall winner John Gilpin down very much, although his winning time of 25 minutes, 41 seconds was more than a minute slower than his winning time from a year ago when he was victorious with a time of 24:38.


Emily Bell was the overall female winner as she crossed the finish line in seventh-place overall as she averaged 6:15 miles while ending the challenging 4.7-mile course in 29 minutes, 19 seconds.


Gilpin is entering his second year of physical therapy school after a successful career running for the Chattanooga Mocs.  


School is taking more time than ever, so he’s not able to train as much as in the past, but he was all alone with nobody in sight when he rounded the last curve on South Crest Road before turning into Bragg Reservation for the final loop to the finish line.


Jesse Martinez was the runner up in 27:13 while Tim Ensign had a great race and finished third in 28:43, outkicking Tripp McCallie for the $50 cash prize for the first master as McCallie was fourth in 28:45. 


Brayan Martinez, Jesse’s younger brother, was fifth in 29:09.


While Bell was claiming the $100 first prize for the overall win, Sarah Woerner was second in 31:11 and 13th overall, despite having to take an unplanned pit stop along the way.


Jan Gautier, who has won this race more than anyone, was 18th overall and the women’s masters champ with a time of 32:56 while Sarah Turner and Danielle Alfano completed the top five ladies with times of 33:10 and 34:10, respectively.


Gilpin may not be quite as fit as last year, but he was still head and shoulders better than anyone in the field for this 44th annual event that serves as the third leg in the Battle of Chattanooga competition.


“That was fun,” the 24-year-old Gilpin suggested shortly after finishing the popular Chattanooga Track Club event.


“I just wanted to get out with a 5:30 first mile and hold it.  I’ve been busy with school and not able to train as much as normal, so I really just wanted to see what I could do.  I couldn’t believe I was alone when I made that last turn,” he added.


Martinez is a 16-year-old sophomore at Murray County High School in Chatsworth.  He’s getting ready for cross country and appears to be fit, but Saturday’s results weren’t what he was looking for.


“I didn’t do what I had planned, but it’s a good course and I’m just trying to get ready for another cross country season.  He was in my sight for the first couple of miles, but he had a bigger gap on the way back,” Martinez nodded.


Bell is a 34-year-old exercise physiologist who serves as a wellness coach and running coach here in Chattanooga.  Saturday was her first race on this course.


“I think I’m getting too old for this, but I felt like I had the marathon shuffle going on.  I had a pretty good run, but I felt worse near the end and that last mile is mostly downhill,” she said while sipping on a bottle of water.


“My goal was to win and get that hundred bucks to make sure I covered my entry fee, but I was pretty consistent with my pace.  I did check out some of the views along the way, but I really just wanted to finish and survive the heat,” the petite Bell added.


Woerner is a 26-year-old teacher and coach at Tyner who has been in Colorado all summer.  


Training at altitude can be a wonderful thing and she took advantage by winning a 50-miler last weekend in just under eight hours.


Saturday was her third time to run this race.


“It was a last-minute decision for me as I’ve been in Colorado all summer, but my true strength is rolling hills and heat.  I had no expectations today as I haven’t run a shorter race in a while, but I had to make an unexpected pit stop along the way and that slowed me down a little bit.


“Emily ran super strong today and she had me beat hands down, regardless of the stop I made,” Woerner said.


David Glenn and Sue Barlow are two runners who both live on Missionary Ridge.  Both are recovering from injuries and didn’t run as fast as they normally do, but they were just happy to be part of the festivities.


“I haven’t been running as much and my pace was slower, but it was all about surviving for me today,” said Glenn, the 49-year-old chief meteorologist for News Channel 9.


“I was training for my first marathon last fall and broke my foot 10 days before Chickamauga, so it’s been a slow comeback for me.  This is my training territory and I know those hills, but you never get used to them,” he said after finishing 117th overall in 43:54.


Barlow teaches physical therapy at UTC who is recovering from a leg injury.  She finished second in the women’s 50-54 age group with a time of 41:06, which was 91st overall.


“I finally started running again.  At least I was out here today and it felt so good to be out among good friends getting some exercise.  We ran by our house during the race and I didn’t stop, but I promise I’ll be faster next year,” she smiled.


Whitney Allison is another local runner who had a pretty good run under difficult conditions.


“I’m not very fast, but I had an excellent run,” said the English teacher at Ringgold High School who will celebrate her 38th birthday on Aug. 24.


“I quit smoking in 2010 and started running after that to be more healthy, but this is a beautiful race and I always enjoy it.  And I was so glad to see that ice-cold towel waiting for me at the finish line,” she nodded.


Ryan Shrum served as the race director for the second straight year.  He was able to run the race last year, but he chose to take care of business instead this time around.


“This is the first time in 10 years I didn’t run this race, but last year when I was running, I felt guilty about the things I should have been doing at the finish line and didn’t enjoy it as much,” he said as runners kept approaching the finish line.


“I haven’t heard anything bad so far today as I just want it to be a good race and a good experience for those who participate.  There were a lot of people depending on me today and I didn’t sleep a wink last night.  But I think everything turned out okay,” he added.


Proceeds from Saturday’s race benefit the American Red Cross and the Team Bruner Scholarship fund.


John Bruner was an outstanding 19-year-old runner from Dalton who collapsed and died near the finish in 2007.  His father Greg has run this race ever since and was present for Saturday’s event where he finished 75th overall in 39 minutes flat.


The next race on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule is the Affordable Botox Superhero 10K at Enterprise South on Aug. 20.


(email John Hunt at


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