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Knoxville Track Club Supports Community’s Physical Well Being

August 3, 2010

You don’t have to be an athlete to love the Knoxville Track & Field Club. I’m not, and I do.

The track club “encourages life-long physical well-being through running and walking,” according to their website, which is an understatement. Many of our community’s race events are run by the track club or managed by them at the behest of non-profit and community organizations like mine. In the Greater Knoxville area there are race events practically every weekend. Odds are, the Knoxville Track & Field Club is involved in some way. Additionally, the club promotes youth involvement in track and field events at schools and at meets in the region.

If you haven’t participated in a run or walk, you might not know about the track club. In my humble opinion, the track club, led by Managing Director Kristy Altman, the club’s volunteer board of directors and committee members, and the numerous volunteers who make race events — like the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon — successful week in and week out are some of the unsung heroes of our community.

My personal experience with the track club has been amazing, energizing and inspiring. Here’s an example of what I mean:

I participated in the Whitestone 30K as part of my training to walk the 2010 Knoxville Marathon. A 30K is about 19.5 miles, give or take. This race is so named because it begins and ends at the Whitestone Inn and the course winds through Roane County highways. It was a slog. I was the last finisher. Many runners who had long since finished, eaten breakfast and were headed home blew their horns, waved and cheered me on as I headed toward the Inn and the finish line.

Waiting for me at the end were Ed and Sue Leaver. Ed is the president of the track club’s board of directors. Sue is a nurse at Parkwest Hospital. Both were among my team mates on the marathon’s media team, and I am proud to call them friends. They didn’t have to do it, but they stayed. Kept the clock running and everything. I was, and still am, touched by that moment.

On marathon day, Andy and Nicole Howe were part of my finish line parade. The Howes, who managed the marathon’s training program — open to the public and taking place nearly every Saturday starting in mid-November and running until the week before the big event — were the final pacers for the marathon. They caught up to me at mile 20, where I was ahead of the seven-hour pace. Again, I was the last finisher. They accompanied me, my walking buddy Lori through to the very end. They also waited for me on a number of longer training “runs.”

That’s the kind of support the track club offers EVERYONE. You don’t have to be an elite athlete, although there certainly are a number of those in our community. The Leavers, Howes, Altmans (Kristy and Jason, who manages the marathon) and many others really are focused on the life-long physical well-being of the community.  

For most of us, participating in a race event isn’t about speed. A knee injury during a Thanksgiving 5K a few years ago saw an end to my running days. But there’s still an athlete inside me that wants to push faster, move harder and pass some of the folks on the road in front of me. I even  hear the Chariots of Fire theme song in my head from time to time.

The important thing is not how fast you go, but that you go. Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. Come join us at an event, and look for me. I’ll be the tall guy near the back of the pack.

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