The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Turkey Trot Recap
Posted: Monday, November 28, 2016
Seth Ruhling Wins Turkey Trot 8K At Sports Barn


It was much warmer on Thursday morning for the annual Turkey Trot 8K road race at the Sports Barn East, but the winning times were comparable to years past.

Seth Ruhling was the master in this year’s race as the 22-year-old senior at Southern Adventist University averaged 5:25 per mile to win with a time of 26 minutes, 54 seconds.

Matt Jenkins was the runner-up in 27:21 while Daniel Goetz was third in 27:27. Joseph Goetz was fourth in 27:30 while Kevin Huwe was fifth in 27:47.

Jessica Marlier was almost two minutes slower than last year, but the friendly young lady who now calls Minnesota home was still the overall female winner as she placed 22nd overall in 31:55.

Dianna Leun was the second female in 32:45 while Maggie Whitson was third in 33:39. Mady Lou and Shelby Guile were fourth and fifth among the ladies with times of 33:42 and 34:02, respectively.

This race, being held on Thanksgiving morning for the 24th straight year, normally draws more runners than any other running event in the Chattanooga area. There weren’t as many finishers this year as in the past, but the ones who came had a good time, ran strong races and made worthwhile contributions to the National Kidney Foundation.

Ruhling is getting ready to graduate from Southern soon where he’s majoring in pre-physical therapy and health science. He hasn’t run this race in four years when he was a senior at Collegedale Academy, but he’s been doing quite a few triathlons in recent years and that really benefitted him on Thursday.

“It was a good race and I had a lot of fun, but this is the first time I’ve run this race in four years and I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said shortly before the awards ceremony began.

“I was definitely trying to win today, but you just never know what will happen and who will show up, but I went out pretty hard for the first couple of miles. I know what it’s like to run on tired legs from my triathlons, so I just told myself it would be a 5K with tired legs at the end.

“I had a pretty good lead, but I turned around and looked in that last stretch as I didn’t know if Matt would come back and challenge me, but nobody ever caught me,” he added with a smile.

Jenkins is a 23-year-old senior at Lee University who will be graduating in three weeks with a pre-med major. He’s hoping to attend medical school at either Vanderbilt or Emory. He’s also training for his first marathon at Rocket City in Huntsville where he’s hoping to post a time near 2:38.

“It was a good race for me today, but Seth just went out and killed it,” Jenkins, a 2012 Soddy Daisy High School graduate, said.

“I really enjoyed it despite the hills around the three-mile mark. I was just hoping to be in the top five and maybe I could have gone faster, but I did the very best I could today. I just wanted to run hard and have fun. If you can’t have fun, what’s the purpose of doing it?” he concluded with a smile.

Daniel Goetz beat older brother Joseph, but Daniel hadn’t done much running since he entered the New York City Marathon three weeks ago. He was sick the week of the race and probably should not have run, but he did before dropping out along the way


“I haven’t done much in the last couple of weeks, so today’s race was more painful than I had planned,” the younger brother suggested.

“It was alright, but it hurt more than I wanted it to. Joe pushed me and even passed me in the last mile, but I was able to pass him back on the last stretch over there,” he said, pointing toward the loop around the Sports Barn that’s the last leg before the finish line.

“I could have beat him today, but I thought I’d just give him an early Christmas present,” said 33-year-old Joseph, who just happened to be the defending winner in this race.

“I hung back for a while as it was way too hot for me today, but I was able to catch Daniel in the last mile and that was fun. I thought he’d be at least a minute ahead of where he was, but we still had a great run,” he nodded.

Marlier won last year’s race in 29:58. She hasn’t been doing as many quality
miles as years past as her job is demanding quite a bit of her time, but she was able to prevail one more time before heading to Atlanta to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends.

She also hasn’t run as many marathons as in years past, but she will be headed to Florida this weekend where she will pace the 3:30 group at the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa Beach.

“I haven’t been doing as much speed work as in the past as I’ve been concentrating more on my job. Running just hasn’t been my top priority in recent months, so I wasn’t sure what to expect today,” she said in her usual quite tone.

“I knew it would hurt and it did, but it was nice to push myself again. I love this race and enjoy running it every year, even with the hills. It felt tougher than normal, but it was well worth it,” she added


Leun shocked herself 12 days ago when she was the overall women’s winner at the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon. She knew she didn’t have much of a chance to win this race, but that didn’t keep her from running hard and putting forth a strong effort.

“I haven’t done this race in a few years, but I think today may have been my fastest time on this course,” she said.

“I just wanted to keep up with some of the younger college girls so I could go home and eat a lot, but I’m doing a half-marathon on Saturday and didn’t want to overdo it today,” she nodded.

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