The 25th running of the 5K for FCA introduced a 10-kilometer option, and veteran local standout Hugh Enicks was the inaugural king of that distance.
Enicks, who has won the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon and the Battlefield half marathon three times each in recent years, continued his training for a return to the 26.2-mile race in November by running the 6.2 miles Monday morning from Chattanooga State in 37 minutes, 33 seconds. At 54 years old, he left the masters title to 53-year-old John Gracy, who was third in 41:42; both qualify for grand masters status.
Ryan Henning, 29, was second in 39:31, and Eric Whittington, 46, was next in 43:51. Women's winner Katie Smith of Covington, Ga., was fifth in 46:23.
"When you get older, it's always good to get a win," said Enicks, Red Bank High School's running coach. "And I'd been sick all week, so I had run only three times. All this low-pressure weather is killing my sinuses. But I felt good today."
The new 10k didn't draw as many runners as hoped, with fewer than 70, area Fellowship of Christian Athletes director Jay Fowler admitted, but he said that was fine for the first time.
"I think the threat of rain kept some people away," Fowler said. "It was sprinkling during registration, but during the race it was just cloudy. With no sun, it was pretty pleasant.
"I was pleased with the numbers overall. With all the kids who ran in the extra races, we had well over 500."
Nearly 400 finished the traditional 5-kilometer race, which Bryan College coach Bryson Harper won by nine seconds over masters winner Geno Phillips, 16:36 to 16:45. Nick McCormick, 18, was third in 16:55, and Dean Thompson, Andy Highlander, Jacob Bradley, Ben Wagner and Dylan Smith also finished in under 18 minutes.
Jessica Marlier was the women's winner in 18:26 and 12th overall, one spot ahead of Sarah Woerner, and Dianna Leun was the women's masters winner in 20:32. Harper's 85-year-old grandmother, Jean Horgan, completed the course ahead of 15 other 5k finishers.
The event included special presentations to race founder Louis Priddy and his wife, Sandy, and Chad Varga, who succeeded Priddy as owner of Front Runner Athletics and the primary sponsor of the race.
"Louis and Sandy have been very, very special friends to FCA," Fowler said, "and Chad has been also. Louis had the vision to start this race 25 years ago, and this is the 12th year for Chad to keep it going."
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