Riverbend Saturday, June 7Megan Nunley, Nathan Black and Joshua Brewer look at a map as they enter the Riverbend grounds on Saturday.
Ty McCormack is a temporary Chattanooga resident who has starred as a runner at Clemson and now Auburn, and Saturday morning he breezed to the overall victory in the Riverbend Run 10k.
Recent Bryan College graduate Alex Stephens from Cleveland outdueled the University of Tennessee at Chattanoga's Nathan Wanuch for second place.
"Ty was sort of on another level. We let him run and do his thing," said Stephens, who just moved to Nashville to work for the Swiftwick company that makes the compression socks so popular with runners.
But if McCormack is a passing-through star of the pavement, he at least has local roots.
Long before he got a summer job in Chattanooga with the Altria Group, known best for the Philip Morris brand, he was connected to a bunch of area Georgia residents. His great-grandmother lived in Rossville, and while he was growing up in Gainesville, Ga., he had "a slew of cousins" at Ringgold, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Heritage high schools, among others.
One relative very special to him was Gary Alverson, who in addition to his Acme Industrial Piping business was well-known in several sports roles, including football in high school, softball and professional fishing. But Alverson died last August, and McCormack said he ran Saturday's race in his honor.
As a college athlete, McCormack could not accept the prize money that goes to the Riverbend Run top finishers, but he enjoyed the race despite the heat of the morning on Riverfront Parkway and out Amnicola Highway.
"It was a pretty easy effort. I felt pretty comfortable with the race," he said. "It was a good course."
The 6-foot-3 McCormack was all-conference both years he ran cross country at Clemson, sandwiching a fall semester when he studied in China, and he graduated from there in three years and went on to Auburn for master's work in finance. He has set a goal of finishing in the top 10 in the NCAA Division I cross country national meet this fall.
His graduate studies have him back in good graces with his family, by the way. His father and grandfather both graduated from Auburn, and his brother is a junior there. In fact, Ty said he was the first person in his dad's lineage since 1904 to earn an undergraduate degree from somewhere besides Auburn.
McCormack living in Highland Park with Zach Darby of the UTC team, and Saturday's 5k winner, recent UTC graduate Lucas Cotter, is one of his regular training partners.
"Lucas is a great guy, and he has welcomed me with open arms," McCormack said.
But Cotter admitted that he steered McCormack to the 10k when he encouraged him to enter Saturday's event.
"I had self-interest. I had already entered the 5k," Cotter said with a smile.
Cotter is now an auditor with TVA, and he knew fellow TVA employee Joseph Goetz was entered in the 5k and would provide good competition. Goetz finished second, and Jessica Marlier was the first female and third overall. She is running another 10k in two weeks, so she changed from the Riverbend 10k to the 5k when she arrived Saturday morning.
Wanuch was not feeling well Saturday morning and struggled in the last five kilometers with the heat, he said, but he battled Stephens to the end.
"Ty took off -- he's in better shape than I am -- and Alex was closing in," Wanuch said. "We ran about a mile together, but I hit the wall and had nothing left. But it was a good course and a fun event."
"I had fun racing with Nathan," said Stephens, who said he now is going to take some time to try "some other fitness adventures," including perhaps mixed martial arts and triathlons.
"I would pass him and he would surge past me. With about a mile and a half to got, I passed him for the last time but felt like he was right behind me all the way. I was afraid to look back."
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.