The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

History

Jogging My Memory by Abner Oldham

I came to Chattanooga in 1962. In order to run a mile I had to go to the old YMCA and run 48 laps around the banked circular track over the basketball court there. Some time in 1963-64 I was invited by Joe McGuiness to join a small group of runners running in Chickamauga Park on the weekends. Running was a shadow sport in those days. You didn't really talk about being a runner.

It wasn't until Frank Shorter won the Olympic Marathon in 1972 that long distance running became popular. Back in the mid '60's Atlanta and Knoxville both had track clubs and sponsored road races. Our small group of runners used to go and compete and we did well. We instituted our own Chattanooga Chase 5 miler in 1967 and Chickamauga Chase 10 mile race in 1968. We weren't a club back then and all of us wanted to compete in the races.

We didn't have volunteers back then. I remember I was asked to volunteer to be in charge of the first Chattanooga Chase. There were around 60 runners from Chattanooga and several surrounding cities. We ran straight out Amnicola Highway from Quaker Oats, 5 miles. I put water and cups for runners self service on the course, started the race, drove out to split time the half way point and drove to the finish to call off finish times, award finish places and go home.

Joe McGinness came up with the idea of Chattanooga having it's own track club. A group of the 10 of us met at the new YMCA in mid 1970 and wrote bylaws, formed committees and applied for tax exempt, non-profit status. Officers were appointed to begin their terms at the start of 1971. Earl Marler was our first president. The race committee was asked to organize new races. Out of this the 1/2 marathon, Missionary Ridge, Heart Run and Rock City Road Race came into being.


Founding members (*) and other runners leave the museum at Chickamauga park. (Circa 1967) Left to right: Dick Ramsey, Chuck Allen, Charlie S. Gibson*, Jim Beach*, Dan Badcort, Phil Lawrence, Charles K. Gibson*, Abner Oldham*, Earl Marler* and Tom Pride*.

Founding members not pictured are Dan Daniels, Joe McGinness, Jon Robere, and Bobby Watson.

This group ran at the park on weekends. Not all became track club members initially. Charles K. Gibson held the US marathon record for 50 year olds with a time of 2:42.

Our early years were pretty low keyed. Jon Robere decided to print a one page newsletter which he titled Jogging Around. He used to hand deliver it to those of us working downtown. Running was still either indoors at the new YMCA 24 lap track, in Chickamauga Park or other isolated areas. No one ran on the streets back then. After Frank shorter won the Olympic Marathon in front of thousands of viewers, road racing took off. Female as well as male new members joined by the dozens. We had volunteers to work the races and the club took on a social aspect.

Back in the late 1960's there were few if any women runners who competed in the races. Sue Ann Herring (Brown) was running back then along with Dianne Dillard and Freda Williams. Beverly Ligon, Kate Gerbitz, Brenda Anderson, Kathi Wagner and Louise Guerry started competing in the mid 1970's. In some cases they ran in the races but received no awards. It wasn't until 1978 that the Track Club started awarding Runner of the Year awards to our female runners. While our females were active in supporting roles, it wasn't until 1992 that Rita Fanning became our first female president.

Today we have nearly 500 members, a board of directors and salaried employees and volunteers. Our races attract 500 or more runners from all over the US. We have added races including triathlons and a marathon. We take in thousands of dollars in registration fees and make sizable charitable donations. Its really exciting to me how this all came about.

CTC Founding Members

Jim Beach, Dan Daniels, Charles K. Gibson, Charles S. Gibson, Earl Marler, Joe McGinness, Abner Oldham, Dan Paul, Tom Pride, Jon Robere & Bobby Watson

 

CTC Past Presidents

1971 - Earl Marler

1972 - Tom Pride

1973 - Bob Williams

1974 - Dan Paul

1975 - Heinz Weigand

1976 - Doug Hawley

1977 - Jerry Grahn

1978 - Jerry Grahn

1979 - Bill Cheal

1980 - Bill Cheal

1981 - Dan Baker

1982 - Dan Baker

1983 - Bill Branta

1984 - David Hixson

1985 - Pat Hagan

1986 - Pat Hagan

1987 - Bill Pollard

1988 - Frank Machuga

1989 - Frank Machuga

1990 - Stuart Rice

1991 - Gene Pinder

1992 - Rita Fanning

1993 - Rita Fanning

1994 - Rita Fanning

1995 - George Skonberg

1996 - George Skonberg

1997 - Richard Parks, Jr.

1998 - Steve Rogers

1999 - Chip Lusk

2000 - Bill Pollard

2001 - Chris LeVan

2002 - Chris LeVan

2003 - Sarah Bowen

2004 - Linda Andreae

2005 - Bill Brock

2006 - Donna Dravland

2007 - Melodie Thompson

2008 - James Williams

2009 - Charlene Simmons

2010 - Sherilyn Johnson

2011 - Bill Moran

2012 - Bill Moran/Chas Webb

2013 - Chas Webb

 

 

 

 


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Chattanooga Track Club • PO Box 11241 • Chattanooga, TN 37401 • 423.842.6265