A former distance runner for Georgetown College and a stay-at-home mom from the heart of Tennessee outpaced all other challengers to win the The Lion’s Chase Saturday — the nation’s toughest obstacle course 5k race.
Thirty-four-year-old Ben Hall of Louisville posted an impressive finishing time of 32:57. The race is run on a farm halfway between Williamsburg and Corbin in rural Whitley County. It includes drastic elevation changes, and about 50 obstacles.
Hall has run the race numerous times before, and won it in 2013. Last year he finished fifth overall, and was motivated by that result.
“The course is just so challenging … I knew that to get back on top of the leaderboard, I’d have to put in a lot more training,” he said. “I definitely came into the race in a lot better shape.”
Hall is an actuary for Humana and runs during lunch breaks in downtown Louisville. He attended Georgetown College from 2002 to 2006 where he was a member of the school’s cross country and track teams.
“I’ve also done some triathlons and a marathon. Mostly I do 5k and 10k races, things like that,” Hall said. “I’ve also done other obstacle races like the Warrior Dash and Rugged Maniac, but The Lion’s Chase is as good as any of those. The obstacles on it are great. It is a very well organized race.”
Hall beat out last year’s Lion’s Chase champion, David Hays, by a little less than a minute. Hays, of London, finished with a time 33:50, a little slower than last year’s time of 33:11.
The first place overall female finisher was Elisa Brown, 25, of Allons, Tenn. She returned to The Lion’s Chase after a two-year absence. She was the fourth female finisher in 2014.
Brown finished with a time of 48:23.
“I was blown away that I won,” Brown said. “I figured I would finish somewhere near the top, but when I saw I was first I just couldn’t believe it.”
“A lot of the credit goes to my husband. He ran right there with me and encouraged me the whole time.”
Brown said she trains for the race mainly by running three miles at least three times a week while pushing a double baby stroller up steep Tennessee hills.
“This is actually the first race I’ve done this year, but it was a great experience,” she said. “I’m excited and pumped to hopefully do it again next year.”
Brown said she and her husband, David, found the race on the Internet and were intrigued by the challenge.
David Brown, a soldier in the U.S. National Guard who works in the construction business, actually ran the race twice Saturday — once with his wife at 9:00 a.m., and again for fun at 10:00 a.m. His official time of 48:22 was recorded in the first run, but he ran it the second time in roughly 38 minutes.
This year’s race was the sixth consecutive year for the event. It covers hilly and forested terrain to add even more challenge to its numerous obstacles.
Race organizer, Jeff Sparks, said he’s gotten positive feedback on this year’s race.
“I think everyone had a great time. We didn’t have any injuries, so everything went really well,” Sparks said.
The overall winner of the event receives a sword with the iconic lion on the hilt.
Hall said the sword he won in 2013 is in storage because his wife won’t let him display it with four young children in their home.
“I’ve wanted to take it to work, but I think it’s against the rules,” he said. “One day, hopefully, I’ll be able to come up with some sort of neat way to display it.”
A full list of finishers with times, along with photographs of the race, can be found online at www.lionschase.com.
Story by TRENT KNUCKLES