The Chattanooga Track Club said thank-you Friday morning to government and other civic leaders who helped the city become the Road Runners Club of America's Outstanding Runner Friendly Community for 2013.
Exactly one month after the RRCA announced that Chattanooga not only received the runner-friendly designation along with Kalamazoo, Mich., and Sarasota and South Lake in Florida but also the top national honor, the CTC hosted a gathering at Outdoor Chattanooga that included presentations to the city of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Sen. Bob Corker's office, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and the Chattanooga Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for their longtime support.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke was out of town but was represented by the city's chief operating officer, Jeff Cannon. Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, provided congratulations for the "world-class city" by video, and his state operations manager, Betsy Ranalli, attended.
County Mayor Jim Coppinger read a joint proclamation from him and Berke that Friday was "Runner Friendly Community Day in Chattanooga and Hamilton County" and gave it to track club president Chas Webb. Webb opened the proceedings and showed the video that highlighted the CTC's bid for RRCA recognition, and president-elect and past president Bill Brock followed with a synopsis of how the club got started and what it does.
Even before the club was formed in 1971, some of its founders began holding races, starting with the Chattanooga Chase in 1967 and the Chickamauga Chase the next spring.
With a membership base of nearly 1,000, Brock said, the track club conducts 14 races a year and is heavily involved with three others -- the 17 range from 1 to 26.2 miles -- and also lends equipment and expertise to a number of other events. Three races, he pointed out, go beyond break-even and essentially pay for the club's operations and projects: the Scenic City Half Marathon, the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon and the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.
Jenni Berz, who directs or co-directs two of those three and who Webb said initiated the push for runner-friendly designation, made the presentations to the community leaders. She and Webb both said the top honor was not an objective in their RRCA bid.
"We just wanted to be designated 'runner-friendly.' The outstanding award was icing on the cake," said Webb, who admitted he "freaked out" while in a cab stuck in traffic in New York City when he received the email announcing Chattanooga's selection.
Contact Ron Bush at email@example.com or 423-757-6291.