Growing up an avid swimmer, and a long-time member of Village Green Gators swim team before competing with Farragut High School’s club team, Nicholas Morgan switched gears “about three years ago.”
His new “gear” involves marathons and shorter competitive runs plus triathlons. “I’ve won a number of triathlons, some of the local ones … and some 5k’s, five or six,” this Village Green resident and 1997 FHS graduate said after adding a new first-place category to his list.
Morgan won annual Hot to Trot 10k run [37:08.12] Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 25, on Parkside Drive, among 661 competitors.
An English professor at Pellissippi State Technical Community College with a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry, Morgan said about winning, “I’m happy and surprised. Conditions were good and there was some good competition. … Long, slow, mild hills.”
A second-place finisher in the 2014 Hot to Trot 5k, “I wanted to try a 10k, I’ve never raced a 10k before,” Morgan said, adding he’s run “60 to 70 miles a week for a couple of years. … I like this course. I run here a lot anyway.”
Taking it the next step, “I run with the Knoxville Endurance Team and I run with the Provision Racing Team,” Morgan said. “And I run with some Knoxville Track Club folks.”
Possibly his most impressive triathlon finish, a third-place showing among top southern competitors in May, “was Knoxville Rev-3,” Morgan said.
As for marathons, Morgan said he is aiming high for 2017. “I’m focusing on the Boston Marathon in the spring. … I qualified for it in the Jacksonville [Fla.] … Breast Cancer marathon in February … I was ninth overall,” he said. “That was my first marathon.
“I enjoy the distance, the challenge,” he added about why he runs marathons. “It’s more challenging for me, being a bigger guy, trying to do well in marathons.”
Morgan, 37, said he’s had more time to compete in runs and triathlons recently.
“I’ve got two kids, an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they’re growing up a little bit so I can have some time to myself,” Morgan said.
About his newfound passions, Morgan said with a laugh, “it’s an early-onset mid-life crisis.”
Top overall 10k female was Kathryn Harris, Ashburn, Va. [39:39.64].
First-place overall 5k winner was Carson Kilby of West Knox-ville [17:21.86].
Top overall 5k female was Anna Stevenson of Nashville [20:37.09].
Among the 5k competitors was Michelle McCuistion of Spring City, who was running just one month to the day after surgery involving her March 2016 diagnosis for breast cancer.
“I’m cancer free. ... I just had surgery Oct. 24. ... It’s where they take the muscle out of your back and reconstruct your breasts,” McCuistion said.
“And I had surgery in April, a double mastectomy, and all the cancer is gone,” added Mc-Cuistion, one of seven family members on hand to run — six doing the 5k while her cousin, Jerry Cook, ran the 10k.
Participating in annual Hot to Trot “is our annual Thanksgiving tradition,” she said. “We’ve done this for years.”
Comparing Hot to Trot to a similar Thanksgiving race in Chattanooga where the family had previously run, “the course is much better here,” McCuistion said.