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  • Writer's pictureMCTA Secretary

1st Annual TNMLF 5K Ridge Run - Mark Keck

The fruition of several Morgan County long time residents’ dreams came to reality these past weeks at the First Annual Tennessee Mountain Laurel Festival 5K Ridge Run. This effort was spearheaded by Gary Darnell and Bacel Gunter along with others to showcase the newly developed CHS Loop Trail and the years old Cumberland Trail. It was originally planned for last year to start however, COVID-19 put a kibosh on that. This year there was truly little time from the date the decision was made to go ahead with this festival to actual race day for registration. Computer glitches further exacerbated the registration process. All kinks were worked out and we had some runners. The process is all worked out and we will soon put it up again for registration to begin for next year sometime in November this year.

We had a registrant from Canada which qualifies us as an international event. The course is not level and flat: it is more of a cross country type of run through the hills and back to the starting line to finish. We had seven runners, and all got a participation plaque with the two winners male and female receiving a uniquely designed medal.

The overall winner and first place female was Lydia Martinez with a time of 31:57, first place male was Trevor Loy with a time of 36:52. Shannon Freels and Haylee Morgan made it a real foot race at the finish line with on 4 tenths of a second separating the two respectively. Sara England was hot on their heels. Brian Young a Barkley Fall Classic racer was in the mix as well. My personal hero of the race was George Brown of Harriman Tennessee who at age 72 ran the race with a time of 1:03:07. He ran the whole way not walking. When asked about coming out for the race he said, “I just wanted to get out and see if I could do it, besides it’s a beautiful morning.” All runners had fun and said they would do it again.

The course is not grueling but is challenging. A special thank you to Steve Durbin of Durbin race management and his wife Terri for helping with the registration and timekeeping for the race. They were a huge help in the success of this race. The other racecourse coordination volunteers were Gary Darnell, Bacel Gunter, Steve Seibers and Larry Sexton.

First place female was Lydia Martinez with a time of 31:57. Presenting medal - Mark Keck

First place male was Trevor Loy with a time of 36:52. Presenting medal - Mark Keck

Shannon Freels and Haylee Morgan and Sara England with Mark Keck

George Brown & Mark Keck

Gary Darnell, Bacel Gunter, Terri Durbin, Steve Durbin, Mark Keck and Larry Sexton

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