Road races became popular in the late 1970’s. However, there were few races in the winter months. Four runners, Bill Cheal in Chattanooga, Kent Rhea in Nashville, Jon Eiche in Cookeville and Pete Sheron in Memphis got together in 1978 and suggested a Running Tour with a series of running events in different state parks during the off season. Charlie Tate, Program Director of the Tennessee State Parks welcomed the idea.It started with only four races. They were Mountaineers 10K at Fall Creek Falls, Hill and Dale 8 Miles in Meeman-Shelby, Frostbite Half Marathon in Montgomery Bell, and Fall Creek Thaw 15K. There were only three age categories in the Grand Prix, Open 10-29, 30-39 and Masters 40+. Entry fee was $ 5. The Parks paid for everything, such as long sleeve shirts and awards, including the Championship Banquet.Initially, the Tour was divided into 3 separate regional divisions with Jim Hammontree responsible for the west, Dare Bible for the central, and John Smith for the east. Billy Jennings was the first Tour Director, a position he held for 3 years (1978-1981), Tom McEldowny for 1 year (1982-1983). Monte Lowe, President of Eagle Kountry Running Club, was Tour Director for the next 9 years (1984-1993). After him Tony Cox was Tour Director for 9 years (1994-2003). The next Tour Director was Tomas de Paulis, President of Frostbite Running Club, for 9 years (2004-2013). Finally, Mike Bell became Tour Director from 2014 to present. In 2012 the State Parks got a new Marketing Director, replacing Charlie Tate, who retired. The Parks had been sponsoring the Running Tour by printing the brochure every year and supporting the Annual Awards Banquet at the end of the season. Now, they wanted to raise the fee from $10 to $40 and return the profit to the Department of State Parks. The Board of Race Directors (pictured below) rejected this idea and the Tennessee Running Tour was created without the State Parks to continue a low fee policy.
Race Directors in 2012: Mike Niederhuser, Mike Bell, Angela Redden, Tomas de Paulis, Roger Gall, Lynn Burnett, Joanne Elston, Tony Cox, John Spencer, Blaine Wilcher, Bob Townsend.
Twenty Years Ago (2004)
60+ Women: Harriet Locke 71, Barbara Winters 60, Joan Maney 64, Dottie Sullivan 60, Wendy Williams 71. Not pictured is Marie Threadgill 62.
60+ Men, Front Row: Ray Langton 66, Dallas Smith 63, Gary Anderson 63, Tony Borghetti 62, Willard Bond 65, John Otto 61, Stephen Khleif 68, Michael Honeycott 62, Dean Whitehead 65. Back Row: Dick Orendorff 64, Charles Sharp 67, Kaul Fincher 79, Joe Duncan 66, Edward Casey 69, Ivy Evans 72, Tomas de Paulis 60, Lee Meadows 64, John Swicegood 63, Paul McCaleb 69. Not pictured are Art Jones 60, John Laughlin 82, Joe Killeen 75, and Burt Nowers 73.
Female 50-59: Debbie Moore 50, Lynda de Paulis 57, Erika Inman 56, Patricia Cole 51, Suzanne Philpot 53, Sarah Joslyn 54. Judy White 55, Doris Brown 55. Not pictured are Judy Melton 55 and Linda Brewer 55.
Men 50-59 Front Row: Bob Townsend 53, Guy Giles 52, Michael Maney 54, James Couch 55, Tony Recker 51, Delmar Hayes 59. Back Row: Tony Halfacre 56, 3 unnamed, Randy Cole 50.
Women 40-49: Sherrie Bowers 45, Amy Cox 42, Diana Taylor 47, Diane Bibeau 43, Amelie Sharp 41,
Men 40-49 Front Row: James Zahn 42, Brian Roskoskey 47, David Sharp 40, Back Row: Terry Quillen 41, Bill Roberts 46, Tommy Kell 40, Jeff Stracener 46, Lynn Burnet 47. Not pictured are John Spencer 49 and Patrick Edwards 46.
Women 10-39: Melodie Wheeler 39, Sue Ruff 38, Patricia Ledbetter 33, Jennifer Segovia 22, Michelle Chapman 23. Not pictured are Melissa Miller 36 and Angela Ivory 35.
Men 10-39 Front Row : unamed, Jay Chapman 24, Chris Kennedy 23, unnamed. Back Row: unnamed, Lawrence Mize 20, 2 unnamed, Roger Brady 36, Nathan Keller 33.