The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

FCA Recap
By John Hunt
Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2016
By John Hunt

For the first time in the 28 years the FCA 5K has been held at Chattanooga State, it was held on a day other than Labor Day

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There were 225 finishers in Saturday’s race who were treated to a break in the weather as lower humidity welcomed the runners who ran this popular 3.1-mile race

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The older folks have been dominating the overall results in recent races, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday as a couple of 16-year-old speedsters were the overall winners

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Jessie Martinez, a sophomore from Dalton who runs cross country and track for Murray County High School, overcame back spasms midway through the race to beat Dean Thompson, another outstanding runner from Cohutta by eight seconds, Martinez crossing the finish line by the tennis courts in 16 minutes, 57 seconds

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Thompson was next in 17:05 while Matthew Broussard was third in 17:54. Ryan Shrum and Tripp McCallie were fourth and fifth with times of 17:57 and 18:14, respectively

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Kathryn Vradenburgh, a slender 16-year-old blonde who runs for the Chattanooga Patriots, was the women’s winner as she finished 28th overall in 20:18

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Mae Mae Powe, a 10-year-old speedster who is a fifth grader at St. Jude, was the runner-up in 20:41 finishing 33rd while Jan Gautier was third in 21:27 and 44th overall

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Sarah Welch and Lisa Logan were the fourth and fifth ladies as they finished 59th and 60th overall with times of 22:22 and 22:33, respectively

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Martinez had finished second at Missionary Ridge on August 6, but he wasn’t willing to settle for the runner-up spot in this race, which attracts a large group of high school and younger cross country runners

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“My back was cramping about a mile and a half, but I didn’t want to lose and had to just forget about the excuses,” he said, admitting that he boxes as another way of staying fit

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“Dean was right there with me the whole way, but I pulled ahead and knew I had it when we turned that last corner. This was a PR for me today. He had planned to win today, but I took it from him. It was a good day for me,” Martinez said

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Thompson had plenty of praise for his competition and has known him for a long time

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“I’ve run this race 11 or 12 years in a row and I use it to see how fit I am as I enter the fall racing season. And it’s always good to support the FCA, but it was hard for me to keep up with the young guy today,” Thompson, who’ll be 51 on Sept. 11, explained

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“I’ve known him a long time and I know how fast he is, so I knew it would be a tough day at the starting line. I was right behind him most of the way, but he put a gap on me at about two and a half miles.

“He picked up the pace and I couldn’t go with him. He’s been working hard and maybe I helped him run a great race today,” Thompson smiled

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Vradenburgh really didn’t want to go all out in this race, but she wanted to get a good workout and that’s exactly what she did

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“It felt really nice out there today and I was just trying to hold a 6:30 pace. I just came out to have fun and get in a good hard run, but I did go all out in that final stretch. But other than cross country, this is probably my favorite race,” she said

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Powe also plays soccer at St. Jude and she's also an outstanding swimmer, so she’s used to running. She’s done a bunch of fun runs, but Saturday was her first experience ever running a 5K race

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“I was trying to pass everyone at the start so I wouldn’t be in last place, but I had fun today. I was hoping to be around 20 minutes, but I was a little bit off. And I was also really wanting to beat my brother Sam, but he won,” she said, admitting that he finished two spots and seven seconds ahead

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Gautier has won more than her share of races in the past 20 years and her times aren’t nearly as fast as they once were, but the Baylor School teacher and coach is just happy that she’s still able to put one foot in front of the other

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“Today was a day for the younger folks, but I beat all the people at home on the couch. This is a perfect way to start the Labor Day weekend, but it was tough. It’s so nice to see the future of the sport running with you, so that was a good thing today,” the 51-year-old said

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John Dixon at first said that he was just going to walk the course on Saturday, but he did do a little running along the way as he finished 223rd out of 225 runners in 46:43, a pace of 15:03 per mile

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The 70-year-old Dixon, a personable educator and coach who is now retired, has run this race every year, so he wasn’t going to miss it

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“I needed a little cardio workout this morning and there was no way I was going to miss it. I was out late last night at a high school football game and that bed was trying to keep me in it this morning, but I made it,” he laughed

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Saturday was also a special day for a group of young men who joined a running program at the Community Kitchen who are homeless. Most have been running since June, so Saturday’s race was a real breakthrough for them

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Jeffrey Dyar, age 31, was the first one of four to finish as he was 146th with a time of 28:53. He was thrilled to just cross the finish line

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“I was a little tight at the start, but I loosened up as the race went along. I smoke and am working on quitting, but today was a lot of fun for me,” he said

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Other guys in the group included Lorenzo Howard, Tyrone Stevenson and Ben Markum

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There will be another 5K next Saturday in Marion County with the second running of the Jasper Highlands 5K. Held on top of the Cumberland Plateau overlooking the county, there will also be a 10K in addition to the 5K and both start at 8 a.m

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(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)


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