Mocs will hit the rocks at Noccalula Falls Park on Nov. 23

Pictured above, runners tackle a less-rocky part of the trail during last year’s run.Pictured above, runners tackle a less-rocky part of the trail during last year’s run.

By Laura Ann Tipps/Staff Writer

The Etowah County Sheriff’s Department and the YMCA of the Coosa Valley will host the second annual Mocs on the Rocks Trail Run on Nov. 23, benefiting Operation Christmas Cheer and the YMCA’s scholarship program.

Heidi Darbo, Membership and Marketing Director of the Coosa Valley YMCA, said this run has been the result of an ongoing partnership with the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department.

“We try to partner with a lot of different companies and organizations, and we really enjoy working with the Sheriff’s Department.

“We also partner with them on Renew Our Rivers, and they do some of their marine police training in our pool,” said Darbo.

The run was remarkably successful in its first year, with about 325 runners.

The event is now is on the Anniston Runners Club Grand Prix Circuit, a prestigious honor for a two-year-old run, and the Gadsden Runners Club has also stepped in to lend a hand to the Mocs on the Rocks coordinators as they organize the upcoming event.

This year’s is the Alabama Teachers Credit Union, but there are spots available at other levels of sponsorship, with varying levels of company logo display and placement of information in participant giveaway bags.

This year, Mocs on the Rocks will have a new feature to entice potential runners. The event coordinators have added chip timing, which uses devices attached to runners’ shoes to track their exact times.

“When you have hundreds of runners, chip timing really helps the runners who begin the race at the back of the group to get an accurate reading of how long it takes them to complete the trail,” Darbo said.

Participants of this year’s run will also enjoy a cook-out or healthy snack after the run, hot chocolate or coffee, door prizes, live music, awards for the top three finishers, and beanie caps for the top 25 finishers.

Live music will be provided by Sweet Tea, a vocal trio of gifted young ladies from the area—Kate Falcon, Victoria Camp, and Savannah Coker.

Both collectively and individually, this group of aspiring country singers has already won awards and received high praise from some of country music’s biggest names.

“Everyone at that run is really in for a treat from Sweet Tea,” said Darbo.

The event’s coordinators expect registration to potentially double from last year’s numbers, and hope to raise double the money for Operation Christmas Cheer and YMCA scholarships.

Operation Christmas Cheer, funded by the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department, provides Christmas gifts for children of deserving families.

“Last year, we were able to provide Christmas for about 20 kids,” said Natalie Barton of the Sheriff’s Department.

The YMCA used its funds from last year’s run to provide 10 children with scholarships to attend YMCA day camps.

Both organizations hope that Mocs on the Rocks will continue to have a positive impact not only on the people they are able to help with the funds raised, but also on the community in general.

“When you put two non-profits together, we’re always looking for ways to better the community.

“The run has been really good for us and for the YMCA, but it also encourages people in the community to engage in a healthy activity,” said Barton.

The run will begin at 9 a.m. on Nov. 23 at the Noccalula Falls Park.

Registration is available at, at the Coosa Valley YMCA, and at the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office.

A t-shirt is guaranteed with registration before Nov. 8.

Before Nov. 8, registration is $30 for the 5K run and $35 for the 10K. After Nov. 8, registration is $35 for the 5K run and $40 for the 10K. Registration for the 1K Family Fun Run is free.

There will be limited registration slots available at 8 a.m. the morning of the run.

The day before the run, the YMCA will be hosting a Packet Pickup event from 12-6 p.m., and the Alabama Teachers Credit Union will also be on site from 12-2 p.m., giving out prizes.

For more information on registration or sponsorship, contact Heidi Darbo at  or Natalie Barton at The YMCA can be reached at 256-547-4947, and the Sheriff’s Department at 256-546-2825.

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