Wears Valley 15K
Sunday, September 22, 2002

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The rainiest weekend in recent memory blessed KTC with a dry -- if somewhat humid -- morning for the annual running of the Wears Valley 15K, one of the favorites on the club calendar.
Runners arriving at the Best Western Motel for registration were greeted by this lovely landscape in front of the inn.

Off in the distance, however, the mountains were shrouded in mists and light rain.  No one knew for certain what would await.

The braintrust puts their heads together to solve a few last minute logistic questions.

The Blount County Sheriff's Department was on hand to ensure safety for all.

A few of the undertrained runners probably wished for a ride on this old engine.

Finally, the early Sunday morning quiet was ripped asunder by the sound of the starter's pistol.
Robert Preston and Jon Lawler surged ahead to take the early lead.
Nearly 175 runners headed out down the winding country road that would lead along the Little River, then along Carr Creek to the turnaround and eventually back to the finish line.
Though Jon Lawler sped to a good lead approaching the three mile mark in the fog, he spent too much on the climb and faded to third overall.
Looking strong climbing the biggest hill on the course, Jamie Dockery, Robert Preston and Greg Johnson were hot in pursuit of Lawler.
By the seven mile mark, Dockery had pulled ahead to a substantial lead.  He went on to win with an excellent time of 52:18.
Greg Johnson continued his recent strong racing with an strong second place finish (54:54).
Knoxville native Emily Pierce came in from New Jersey to claim third place overall female (1:06:58) behind Marsha Morton and Melanie Cox.
Chattanoogan Mitch Keebler was masters victor for the third year in a row.
Becca Fuller (#740) was the leading female grandmasters runner on this day.

And this is the elusive sight for which so many struggled for so long:  The finish line, manned (and womanned) by Bob McLean, Hayes Hunter Joyce Hunter and Jack Payne, stalwart volunteers of the Knoxville Track Club.

Please come back next year to enjoy the vistas and the winding roads at the Knoxville Track Club's grand Wears Valley 15K road race.  A special thanks to Preston Aviation and our other fine sponsors.  The next KTC race is equally spectacular: the Big South Fork 17.5 mile Trail Race on October 5th up near Oneida TN.  See you there!


photos by Michael deLisle