A Florida man finished first in the Secret City Half Marathon on Sunday morning, crossing the finish line almost eight minutes ahead of the second-place runner.
Jason McLeod, 21, of Orlando, Fla., finished the 13.1-mile course in 1:11:53. It was his first half marathon.
McLeod has never competed in a full marathon either, but he did run cross country for four years at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn.
Gina Rouse, 34, of Knoxville finished second with a time of 1:19:50. She was also the top female runner among the 536 athletes who started Sunday. She has competed in marathons, including the Nashville Marathon in 2006 and Atlanta Marathon in 2011.
Coming in third was Brock Bailey of Liberty, S.C. The 36-year-old finished in 1:20:02 on a course that started and ended near National Fitness Center on Briarcliff Avenue, ran along city streets including Laboratory Road, Oak Ridge Turnpike, and Emory Valley Road, as well as down the Melton Lake Greenway.
The half marathon was part of a two-day weekend this year that included new events at the Oak Ridge Civic Center on Saturday: 5k and 10k races, and a health and fitness expo. The expo included booths and exhibits from fitness and health professionals around the region.
Race Director Frank Chmielewicz said about 650 registered for the Half Marathon on Sunday and about 180 competed in the 5k and 10k on Saturday.
“I thought it went great,” Chmielewicz said.
The goal of the two-day event was to make it family-friendly and provide activities for out-of-town visitors. Runners from roughly two dozen states such as Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana all competed in the half marathon Sunday. There were also Tennessee runners, including many from Knoxville and others from Clinton and Crossville, Loudon and Morristown, and Mt. Juliet and Oak Ridge.
“We’re bringing people in,” Chmielewicz said.
But it could be the last year for Chmielewicz, who has organized the race for four years.
“It’s really grown,” he said. “It’s become too big for a one-man type thing.”
The City of Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau both provided support for this weekend’s events. They helped bring in out-of-town business, City Manager Mark Watson said.
Watson, who is president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, said a club study committee is evaluating whether it could support some of the events next year. The ORCVB will also evaluate the events, Watson said.
McLeod said he was a little nervous sprinting out ahead at the start of Sunday’s race, expecting a larger crowd at the head of the pack. He was hoping to finish the race between 1:10 and 1:12, and trying to keep his pace under 5:30 per mile. He did—his pace was 5:29 per mile—and McLeod was the only runner with a pace faster than six minutes per mile.
Meanwhile, Rouse, who ran in the Secret City Half Marathon in 2011, said she tried to run a conservative race and picked up her pace at the end, passing other runners as they drew closer to the finish line.
Competitors said it was a great course, relatively flat and featuring two loops. That allowed the runners to be relatively familiar with the course on the second time around.
Chmielewicz said the city helped with course setup this weekend, and the ORCVB headed up the expo. Funds from the events went to:
- ASAP (Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention of Anderson County),
- CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Tennessee Heartland), and
- TORCH (Trinity Out Reach Center of Hope).
Pictures of the start line and the first- and second-places finishes are available here, courtesy of Gabe Walker of Walker Athletic Photography.
See this Web page for a list of overall winners.
See this Web page for all results, including relay team finishes and finishes by age and gender.
Visit the Secret City Half Marathon website for more information.