Rodney Stoker Wins Turkey Trot 8K Again

Atlanta's Dylan Hassett Second Overall And Female Winner

Thursday, November 23, 2017 - by John Hunt

It has been about 15 years since Rodney Stoker captured first place overall in the annual Sports Barn Turkey Trot, but he’s been doing some serious training in recent weeks and it paid off Thursday morning as the 41-year-old former UTC standout was victorious with a time of 27 minutes, 18 seconds.

Dylan Hassett, a promising 24-year-old from Atlanta who is making her way as a professional runner, broke from the starting line in the lead pack and proved it was no fluke as she finished as the race runner-up and overall female winner with a time of 27:47.

Nashville’s Seth Carley was the second male in 27:57 while Peter Dalton of Martin, Tenn. Was third in 28:08.  Jack McGinness and John Sillery followed with times of 28:09 and 28:16, respectively.

While Hassett ran away from all the females, two-time defending champ Jessica Marlier was the second woman as she crossed the line in 30 minutes, five seconds to claim 19th overall in the field that included 691 finishers.

Rachel Mason finished five spots back in 30:51 for third while Chelsea Hassett and Emily Cooper were fourth and fifth with times of 32:58 and 33:57, respectively.

Thursday was the 25th annual running of a Chattanooga race on Thanksgiving morning that has become the most popular race on the Chattanooga Track Club schedule.  Lots of families gather for the festive occasion and quite a few folks take part in a 5K walk, but most just want to get in a good workout before chowing down and taking it easy for the rest of the day.

Stoker is a 1994 graduate of Ridgeland High School who went to Georgia Southern before finishing his college eligibility at UTC.  He spent four years coaching track and cross country at UT-Knoxville, but has been back in the Chattanooga for the past 18 months at McCallie working on the Sports Camp staff and serving as a coach.

He’s currently getting ready for the Masters Club Nationals cross country championships in a couple of weeks, so he just came out on Thursday to measure where his fitness level is. 

He didn’t expect to be challenged by a pretty young lady as the race wound through the neighborhood off East Brainerd Road by the Brown Acres golf course.

“I just wanted to test myself today as I have the club nationals in two weeks,” the 41-year-old speedster said after a post-race warm down run.

“I felt comfortable most of the way as I was hoping to be under 5:30 pace per mile.  I was just barely, but I knew that girl was good and she wasn’t that far behind me.  We ran together for the first two miles, but we went up a hill at that point and that’s where I gapped her a little bit.

“But I’m just thankful to still be healthy and running,” he said, noting that his 8K PR is a blistering 23:40.

Hassett is originally from Atlanta, but is currently training and racing for a team in Providence, R.I.  She was home for the holiday and looking for an 8K race and that’s how she ended up in Chattanooga.

“I was looking for an 8K race and this one was the closest I could find,” she said shortly after finishing on a brisk morning.

“It was a little hillier than I was expecting, but I had my eye on him (Stoker) the whole time.  Really I was just looking for a strong effort and that’s what I got, but I was all alone after the first mile and it was a good practice in mental discipline.

“I have only run one marathon and want to eventually get back to that distance, but today was my first 8K and really had a nice time,” she concluded, noting that her only marathon was a 2:57 at the Olympic Trials at Los Angeles in 2016.

Marlier finished 22nd overall in winning last year with a time of 31:55.  She vowed to be in better shape this time around.

“The good news is that I was faster than last year, but the bad news is that old habits die hard and I started out too quick as usual,” the 32-year-old Fleet Feet associate expressed afterward.

“This race always draws good competition and I knew I was in trouble when I saw her up on the front row.  She was in the lead pack of guys from the start, but I’m happy with my time,” she nodded.

Seth Ruhling was last year’s winner in 26:54, but was not present on Thursday to defend his title.

The proceeds from the race benefit the Kidney Foundation of Chattanooga.

The next and last race on the CTC schedule for 2017 will take place on Dec. 16 with the Wauhatchie Trail Run, one of the most challenging and scenic 6.7-mile runs on the side of Lookout Mountain.  It’s age and gender handicapped, so everyone has a shot to win.

(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@gmail.com)



Chattanooga Area Swim League

CHATTANOOGA AREA SWIM LEAGUE BLUE DIVISION: 1. Ooltewah 4-0; 1. Stuart Heights 3-1; 3. Signal Mountain 2-2; 4. Dalton 1-3; 5. Calhoun 0-4. RED DIVISION: 1. Catoosa  4-0; 2. Country Club 4-1; 3. Fairyland 2-2; 4. Cleveland 1-3; 5. Big Ridge 0-5. WHITE DIVISION: 1. Red Bank 4-0; 2. Waterdogs 3-1; 3. Ridgeside 1-3; 4. Cumberland 0-4. MONDAY'S RESULTS Country ... (click for more)

Former Moc Faysal Shafaat Is A Big Brother Contestant

Former UTC two-time All-American tight end Faysal Shafaat (2011-14) is a contestant on season 20 of Big Brother, the show announced this week.  A four-year starter, Shafaat had 125 career catches and is No. 4 on UTC's all-time receiving touchdown list with 18. Big Brother is a television reality game show that airs on CBS.  This season premiers on June 27 at 8 p.m. ... (click for more)

Voters May Decide In November On Whether To Eliminate City Court; Paving Fund Also Considered

Chattanooga voters in November may get to vote on whether City Court should be abolished. City Council members indicated during budget talks on Tuesday that may be an upcoming referendum question. Councilman Jerry Mitchell said he, for one, "would vote to eliminate it." However, he said the court would apparently run through 2021 when the eight-year terms of Judges Sherry ... (click for more)

Riverton Development Spurs Talk Of Riverwalk Along The Northshore

Development of the former BlueCross property at Lupton City is spurring talk of a Riverwalk on the Northshore. The City Council discussed the topic on Tuesday night in giving final approval for a Planned Unit Development for Riverton on 210 acres. Officials said there are no specific plans for a Northshore Riverwalk, but several groups are actively working to make a connection ... (click for more)

Never Replacing Claude Ramsey But Following His Example

When Claude made his decision not to seek reelection as the 26th District state representative I made my intention known to seek the office following him.  Immediately opponents from both parties began to qualify for that opportunity.  With Bill Bennett as my campaign manager and many of Claude’s supporters going door to door into the community, as Claude had done in his ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Participation Trophies

You may remember several years back when James Harrison, a linebacker for the Steelers at the time, came home to discover his two sons, who were then ages 8 and 6, had received “participation trophies” on a sports team. Harrison, who earned his way into the NFL (he was not drafted out of Kent State yet played in five Pro Bowls), promptly loaded his sons and the bogus trophies in ... (click for more)