Sammy Degraff claims victory in Chattanooga half-marathon
Sammy Degraff introduced himself to the running community in Tennessee in a big way by winning the Chattanooga Erlanger Half-Marathon yesterday in a personal-best time of 1hr 12min 54sec.
More than 900 athletes began the early morning race in 30 degree Fahrenheit weather on a 13.1=mile course centred in the down town area of Chattanooga which had a good mixture of flat stretches and hills.
Degraff, an outstanding midfielder for North Village and Bermuda during his football-playing days, has developed a passion for running as he competed in the major races locally before relocating to the United States recently.
“I'm preparing to run a marathon in Houston in January so I wanted to do a half marathon eight weeks before and was able to run this one,” Degraff told The Royal Gazette.
“I crossed the line in first place and felt pretty comfortable and controlled which is what I was looking for. The course was hilly and a little slick due to freezing temperatures early in the morning, but I was happy I adapted and didn't lose too much time.
“But felt I could have gone faster on a flatter course. Nevertheless, I’m really pleased with my performance and looking to build from here. I was able to meet some other top runners in the area and I’m looking forward to working with them to inspire and encourage one another.”
The race was actually Degraff’s first since moving to the US.
“Yeah this actually was my first real race in the US,” he added. “I ran a race with my wife about four weeks ago to help her, but, I would consider this my debut.”
Degraff was two minutes ahead of the second-place runner, Jonathan Ziesmer who clocked a time of 1:14:43. After that there was a wait of almost five minutes before the next runner crossed the line, with Josh Morin finishing third in 1:19:37, ahead of Ryan Lay in 1:19:56, while Kendrick Gibson completed the top five, finishing in 1:20:42.
Degraff, who turns 41 next month, was also the oldest of the top five finishers, with Ziesmer and Lay competing in the 20 to 29 age group and Morin and Gibson in the 30 to 39 category.