Sunday, March 18, 2018

Aaron Catlin and Jacqueline Head rise to the Chesty Puller Challenge

Chesty Puller ChallengeDescribing the annual half-marathon trail race, the Chesty Puller Challenge, Fort Benning, Georgia's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program writes, "The Chesty Puller 13.1 Mile Half Marathon is not for the faint hearted; the trail is routed deep into the woods near Kelley Hill."

"Not for the faint hearted," indeed. You can see some of the course from US 27 on the drive to Columbus, Georgia. The ravines and pine barrens do not look inviting. But you knew it had to be tough when they named it after Chesty Puller.

It's astonishing that Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller didn't die young. Over the years, many folks tried to help him find his way to an early grave as he fought guerrillas in Haiti and Nicaragua, the Japanese in World War II, and the North Koreans and Chinese during the Korean Conflict. None of them had the bullet or bayonet with Puller's name on it. Instead, Puller rose from Private to Lieutenant General during 37 years in the United States Marine Corps while becoming the most decorated Marine in American history.

Neverthless, 189 athletes successfully met the Chesty Puller Challenge on Saturday morning, 17 March 2018. The fastest in the field was Aaron Catlin, who finished the 13.1 miles in 1:35:41, more than three-quarters of a mile ahead of the next runner. Jacqueline Head, an alumna of the United States Military Academy cross-country team, was the women's champ, placing fifteenth overall in 1:55:17.

Catlin, the race-winner, has run the Army Ten-Miler four times since 2011, most recently placing 60th in the 2017 race with a 57:52. Ten miles on the streets of the District of Columbia is an entirely different critter than thirteen-plus miles through the jungles of Fort Benning, but Catlin excelled in both venues. Christopher Fedorchenko was runner-up to Catlin in the Chesty Puller Challenge, clocking 1:41:50 on the trails. Less than 100 meters behind Fedorchenko, Michael Rose took third in 1:42:16. Matthew Deloia was the top master runner in the Challenge, placing ninth overall in 1:50:29.

Jodie Villegas was second in the women's standings and 34th overall in 2:03:20. Katerine Seyward was the top woman master and third female finisher, 44th overall in 2:09:49.

I couldn't say whether or not, on the trail, the athletes urged one another to do one more mile for Chesty. But I'd like to think they did.

Event Technical Services, Inc., of Sylvester, Georgia timed and scored the 2018 Chesty Puller Challenge Half-Marathon Trail Race.

Top Ten Men, 2018 Chesty Puller Challenge Half-Marathon Trail Race
  1. 1:35:41, Aaron Catlin (M, 28)
  2. 1:41:50, Christopher Fedorchenko (M, 27)
  3. 1:42:16, Michael Rose (M, 27)
  4. 1:42:54, Daniel Jester (M, 27)
  5. 1:45:53, Matthew Slocum (M, 26)
  6. 1:46:34, Jan Wolfisberg (M, 22)
  7. 1:49:44, Edward Tillinghast (M, 25)
  8. 1:50:13, Jake Lunsford (M, 33)
  9. 1:50:29, Matthew Deloia (M, 40)
  10. 1:51:11, Austin Peterson (M, 24)

Top Ten Women, 2018 Chesty Puller Challenge Half-Marathon Trail Race
  1. 1:55:17, Jacqueline Head (F, 18)
  2. 2:03:20, Jodie Villegas (F, 25)
  3. 2:09:49, Katerine Seywerd (F, 41)
  4. 2:12:55, Erika Kitson (F, 37)
  5. 2:14:22, April Gellatly (F, 36)
  6. 2:15:37, Nicole Bladow (F, 28)
  7. 2:16:56, Ariela Mansilla (F, 31)
  8. 2:21:47, Fabienne Nawara (F, 30)
  9. 2:24:16, Marissa Zarrelli (F, 25)
  10. 2:24:21, Samantha Bartush (F, 21)

Chesty Puller Half-Marathon Trail Race winners, 2012 - 2018
5 May 2012
6 April 20131:41:48, Anthony Thompson2:09:51, Kristin Thompson84
15 March 20141:28:24, Tim Nelson2:15:32, Amanda Oldaker200
14 March 20151:38:24, Mark Gaudet2:09:26, Jenn Gaddy149
7 March 20161:39:47, James Miller1:54:46, Theresa Edwards172
4 March 20171:29:53, Robert Killian2:02:50, Erin Divinski203
17 March 20181:35:41, Aaron Catlin1:55:17, Jacqueline Head189


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