Two guys in town to enjoy Thanksgiving with their in-laws battled it out Thursday morning for the Turkey Trot 8k triumph from the Sports Barn East.
Sam Dech of Oklahoma City won in 25 minutes, 51 seconds -- four seconds ahead of Nashville resident Ryan Chastain. Patrick Hall, who had won two of the last three years, finished third in 26:26. That was just over a second off his 2011 time for the nearly five-mile course.
The women's race was close, too, with former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout Anneli Uys Morrison edging Phoebe Wright, the former Tennessee NCAA 800-meter champion from Red Bank High School who almost made the U.S. Olympic team this year.
Former King College runner Danielle Alfano from Notre Dame High, who as a 13-year-old won the Turkey Trot 1-miler in her very first race, finished third among the females.
The 25-year-old Morrison, who was 13th overall in 29:30, won the 2010 Turkey Trot after Wright won in 2008 and '09.
"Phoebe's awesome, and she's the nicest famous person around here," said Morrison, who spent Thanksgiving last year at her mother-in-law's home in St. Simons Island, Ga. "Going against her, it was a race and not just a run. She led like the first four and a half miles and I just tried to stay close, but I knew I had to have a good lead before we got to the last 200 meters."
Morrison passed Wright once earlier in the race, but that lead was brief. She finally overtook Wright on the last downhill slope on Lee Highway.
Chastain, a 24-year-old Indiana native who ran for Lipscomb University in Nashville, married Paloma Floden, who like Hall attended Chattanooga Christian. Her folks live in Brainerd.
Dech and his wife, Beth, are the children of Nazarene church pastors. He often runs the 8-mile Turkey Trot in Dallas on Thanksgiving, but this holiday was scheduled for her parents' home in Flintstone. Dech, 33 and an assistant running coach at Oklahoma Christian University, had limited his running to light jogging for a while because of a "chronic hamstring strain" but has spent the last six months rebuilding his training mileage as he looks again to his goal of a sub-4-minute mile.
He had to go hard at the end of Thursday's race with the younger Chastain pushing him.
"We ran side by side about the last two miles," Chastain said.
"I wouldn't have run that fast today if he wasn't there," said Dech, who grew up in California, went to high school in Texas and ran in college at Southern Nazarene in Oklahoma.
Jake Bradley, Joseph Goetz and Seth Ruhling were fourth through sixth overall in 26:58, 27:06 and 27:29.
Cohutta's Dean Thompson ended Tim Ensign's four-year run as the Turkey Trot's top 40-over finisher -- seventh overall in 27:32 -- but Ensign took solace in setting a state 8k record of 27:55 for his age, 49.
There were 1,011 finishers in the 8k Thursday. Total participation including the 3-mile walk, 1-mile fun run and Kiddie-K was about 1,500.