Emergency room physician John “Spider” Sillery won the Scenic City Half Marathon on Saturday, but he was the second man to complete the 13.1-mile course.
Joseph Sitienei didn’t try to sign up for the race until Friday, well after registration was closed, but he ran anyway and finished in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 12 seconds. Sillery finished 25 seconds later, more than four minutes ahead of runner-up Jason Scott of Kennesaw, Ga., in 1:20:57. Signal Mountain’s Matt Gregory was third in 1:22:48.
“Officially I’m the winner, but not really,” Sillery said inside the First Tennessee Pavilion. “But I don’t mind. We pulled each other along. We helped each other run better.”
It was his third running race and his first longer than five miles since back surgery in December 2009. His personal best for a half marathon was a 1:09.50 in Dallas in 2003. He did a 2:31 in his first marathon in 1994 and later finished one in 2:26.
“I led for the first four and a half miles, and then he joined me and we ran together until 10,” the 39-year-old Sillery said of Sitienei, 35, a native Kenyan who has lived four years in Chattanooga. “I just didn’t have the legs under me to keep up with him after that.”
Sitienei, who runs to and from his job at Capital Motors Toyota, said he felt “very good” in his first time to run the Scenic City, albeit unofficially.
Kimberly Humphries was the women’s winner and 20th overall in 1:29:28. Jo Davis of Louisville, Ky., was the runner-up, the female masters winner and 43rd overall in 1:35:27. Chattanooga’s Lynda Webber was the grand masters winner in 1:51:09.
David Schwerbrock of Cary, N.C., was the men’s masters winner and seventh overall in 1:24:12. Chattanooga’s Cliff Milam, 51, was the grand masters winner in 1:29:50, right behind Humphries.
Humphries, who came to Chattanooga from Michigan four years ago, won a 6-kilometer trail race last Sunday at Southern Adventist University, but that was her first trail competition and she said she was “really stiff Monday and Tuesday.” She got a massage from a Benchmark Physical Therapy co-worker Friday, though, and clearly felt fine Saturday morning.
A half marathon is her favorite distance, said Humphries, a former cross country runner at Evansville University.
Sillery grew up in Bloomington, Ill., and ran for Augustana College. When he finished his medical residency in York, Pa., and Baltimore, he chose Chattanooga as the place he wanted to practice — “because of all the outdoors activities here,” he said. He works in the ERs at Memorial and North Park hospitals.
One day after turning 70, Sergio Bianchini was 54th out of the 533 official half marathon finishers in 1:37:02. His son Marco, 20, was 44th in 1:35:27.
Knoxville’s Jason Altman won the 5k race in 17:03, 49 seconds ahead of runner-up Matthew Jenkins of Soddy-Daisy. Red Bank 14-year-old Robert Schorr was third in 20:42, and Chattanooga’s Leah Golden (24:09), Danielle Pick of Peachtree City, Ga., and Ashley Smith of Hendersonville, Tenn., were 14th through 16th as the first three females out of 303 finishers.
The Scenic City races benefit eight local charities.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.