Football players. Soccer players.
Now another University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athlete has had a moment in the sun at Finley Stadium.
UTC runner Paul Stuart breezed to victory Saturday morning in the Scenic City Half Marathon with the finish line at midfield for the first time. Usually it is on the road between the stadium and First Tennessee Pavilion.
It was the first race of over 10 kilometers for the 20-year-old Brentwood resident, but he finished in 1 hour, 11 minutes, 49 seconds for a three-minute win over Jack Findley of Jackson, Tenn. Local middle school teacher Geno Phillips, 42, was third and the masters leader in 1:15:53 after winning the 13.1-mile race last year in 1:14:27.
Jennifer Funk of Signal Mountain was the women's masters winner.
The Scenic City is the RRCA Tennessee state championship half marathon.
The women's winner Saturday was 22-year-old University of Georgia senior Sydney Marshall of Alpharetta, Ga. She was eighth overall in 1:22:27. Her closest challengers were Jeanette Wilson and Sarah Eldridge, 36th and 42nd overall in 1:32:06 and 1:33:38.
This was the fourth half marathon for Marshall and her first victory.
"It was a two-minute PR," she said proudly. "It's a good course. It got hard for me about mile 8 or 9."
The double major in communications studies and public health ran cross country her first two years in Athens but endured a series of injuries and decided to focus on academics.
"I like this distance. Honestly, it's easier for me than the shorter stuff," Marshall said.
She signed up for the Chattanooga race "a few months ago" because it was relatively close to Athens and "a fun place to spend the weekend," she said.
She and her boyfriend, who paced her in the race, arrived Friday night and planned to stay in town until today. She had seen the half marathon course online so didn't check it out in person before the race.
Stuart had only a couple of days to prepare mentally for his first half marathon after UTC coach Bill Gautier mentioned the race to him. Stuart, who won the Karen Lawrence Run for St. Jude on New Year's Eve, is redshirting this indoor track season but will be running the 5k and 10k events in the Mocs' outdoor season.
"Coach suggested I do it, and I always kind of wanted to do one," he said. "I didn't do anything specific for this race -- just my regular training."
That normally includes a 12- to 15-mile run about once a week, Stuart noted, so the distance was no problem.
John Sillery and Ryan Shrum, both in their 40s like Phillips, completed the top five.
Joseph Goetz edged his younger brother Daniel for the 5k triumph, the 30-year-old winning at 16:04 by four seconds over his 26-year-old sibling. Hugh Enicks, 54, was third and the masters winner in 17:40.
Betsy Heines, 23, was the female winner and 10th overall in 20:05. Gracie Pendleton, only 12, was the runner-up and 13th overall in 20:53, once place and 11 seconds ahead of 18-year-old Jillian Lentz.
The two races had over 1,200 finishers and benefited eight local organizations in the Charity Challenge. Each runner designates which one gets the charity portion of his or her entry fee, and McKamey Animal Center had the most participants while the Chambliss Center for Children edged out the Children's Advocacy Center for top fundraising results.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.