Rock/Creek today presented the Cumberland Trail Conference with a check for $1500. The Chattanooga-based outdoor retailer raised the money at last weekend's Rock/Creek River Gorge Trail Race. Now in its seventh year, the race was well attended as about 300 athletes showed up despite torrential rains before the race. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to building and maintaining over 300 miles of trails on the Cumberland Plateau. Anthony Hook, General Manager of the Cumberland Trail Conference, shares his gratitude: "This race hosted by Rock/Creek helps support the Cumberland Trail Conference and demonstrates the various recreational pursuits that the Cumberland Trail offers. Races such as the Rock/Creek River Gorge Trail Race provide the challenge that trail runners seek and increases awareness of the Cumberland Trail. This money will be used to support our trail building and maintenance programs in Hamilton and Rhea counties. The CTC appreciates Rock/Creek's continuous support and generosity."
Appropriately, the race takes place on the Cumberland Trail, in Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area. The two distance options, 10.2 mile and 6.5 mile, both used parts of the challenging Mullens Cove Loop. Prentice Cooper is located in Marion County, on top of Suck Creek Mountain, overlooking the Tennessee River Gorge.
Thunderstorms and heavy rain greeted about 300 athletes on Saturday morning, making this one of the largest and certainly the wettest turnouts in the history of the race. "Having a successful turnout like this, despite the rain, made for a fantastic start to the spring trail running season," states race director, Jamie Sanders. "We are excited to see how continued growth of this sport encourages people to come out, rain or shine, every year."
Covered in mud and soaked in rain and sweat, several of these trail runners battled for the finish, making for a winning time almost a minute faster than last year's time. Joseph Goetz finished first with a 1:13:58 in the 10.2 mile. Rock /Creek Race Team member Stephen Taylor from Nashville ran a great race, finishing just behind Joseph in 1:14:39. Several Chattanooga-based Rock/Creek team members fared well: Geno Phillips finished fourth, Matt Sims came in seventh, while Randy Whorton finished 16th. Rock/Creek employee Clay Warner finished fourth with a time of 1:17:43.
In the women's division, Jan Gautier finished first with a time of 1:28:02, placing 18th overall. Heather Stone of Chattanooga finished 2nd; Michelle Meek of Knoxville, TN took third. Chattanooga native Natalie Sims of Team Rock/Creek ran hard and placed fifth in the women's division.
In the 6.5 miler, Zach McElrath of Phoenix, AZ took the podium with a time of 50:25, beating last year's winning time of 51:31. Tom Sell of Chattanooga came in second in the men's category and Cody Carlson from Rock Face, GA came in third, with a time of 51:26. In the women's division, Mary Mingedorff-Lee finished in 1:03:58, taking first. Cathi Cannon, a Chattanooga native and new member of the Rock/Creek Race Team, came in second, while Angela Pewitt, from Birmingham, AL, finished third with a time of 1:09:56.
Rock/Creek co-owner and president, Dawson Wheeler, from Signal Mountain, TN, expresses his gratitude to the sponsors and volunteers: "Without serious financial and time commitments from our sponsors and volunteers, we never could have raised this much money or had such a successful race." Mr. Wheeler also highlighted the importance of environmental stewardship: "Rock/Creek believes in the work of the Cumberland Trail Conference. By supporting what they do, we hope to encourage others to do their part as well. The future of the activities we love depends on protecting our natural resources through the volunteer work we do now as well as our financial commitments to conservation organizations."
SmartWool, Mountain Hardwear, and Patagonia were major sponsors of the event. The North Face, Salomon, Hammer Nutrition, Greenlife Grocery, Larabar, TrailRunner, and The Gear Junkie also sponsored. The Rock/Creek River Gorge Trail Race was the first in the Rock/Creek Trail Series, a new year-long points series with 9 race dates and 13 distance options. The series benefits trail building and maintenance efforts through The Wilderness Trail Running Association (The Boonies). For more information on the series, visit http://www.rockcreek.com/trailseries/ and for more information on The Boonies visit http://www.runintheboonies.org. The Cumberland Trail Conference can be found at http://www.cumberlandtrail.org.
The next race in the Rock/Creek Trail Series will be the Scenic City Marathon & Half Marathon, presented by Vasque, May 24th, 2008. Registration is currently open: http://www.rockcreek.com/trailmarathon/
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Rock/Creek, member of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, is an independent specialty outdoor retailer with over two decades of experience in the Southeast. Along with its online shops, RockCreek.com and ClimbingGear.com, Rock/Creek provides quality outdoor clothing and gear for a host of activities including kayaking, rock climbing, camping, hiking, trail running, and adventure racing. Rock/Creek is committed to making a positive impact on the environment. For this reason, it uses outdoor retail as a platform to encourage outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship and to improve public access to the backcountry. Rock/Creek supports worthy nonprofits such as the Southeastern Climbers' Coalition and the Wilderness Trail Running Association.