Hundreds of runners gathered in the wet fog Saturday morning to run the muddy, leaf covered trails of the Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area as part of the River Gorge Trail Race.
Aptly nicknamed "the muddy trail race," this year's event drew more than 300 runners in two trail races, a 10.2-mile and 6.5-mile.
The event, now in its eighth year, is one of the largest outdoor events in the city, according to Randy Whorton, a member of the Wilderness Trail Running Association, aka Boonies, which sponsors the race along with Rock/Creek.
Chattanooga runner Nicholas Selbo, 30, won overall with a time of 1 hour, 15 minutes in the 10.2-mile race. Another Chattanoogan, 25-year-old Jack McAfee, won the 6.5-mile race with a time of 48 minutes, 54 seconds.
For Selbo, 30, the River Gorge run was his first trail race.
"It was a lot of fun. I just thought I'd give it a try with some friends, and so that's what we did," he said. "It was a good weekend."
Prior to that, Selbo had done most of his race running on the road. But the difference between trail running and road running are dramatic, Whorton said.
"There's a world of difference," he said. "The physical part is really it."
Trail runners typically have different body types than road runners, Whorton said.
Compare the starting lineup of the Boston Marathon with the most popular trail race in the country, and the runners will look totally different.
"You rarely find a road runner that is running for 20 years," he said.
Contrary to popular belief, it's not the impact that makes trail running a better work, he said, because trail running has that too. Instead, it's all about foot placement with trail running. The repetitive motion of running on the road is replaced with different strides, making every step is a little bit different.
"Your using a lot more muscle groups, your hiking and your going up and down steep stairs, so you are really becoming a lot stronger in your whole body," Whorton said. "It's far more athletic, it's more of an overall workout."