For the past 18 years, David Fox has been at the helm of one of the region's most popular, as well as economical, road races. Where else can you get race entry, shirt, socks and a free meal for just $10 when you register early?
Of course, if you haven't already gotten in on that deal, you're a little too late for the early bird discount. But registration (with all those perks) is still quite the value at $20 per person this week. Just don't wait much longer. There's no race day registration allowed.
The 38th running of the Eastman Road Race will see a changing of the guard as Fox steps down to enjoy retirement. He officially retired from Eastman Chemical Company last year.
"It will be a sad and sweet moment at the end," said Fox. "I'll be parting ways with a lot of good people and I will always appreciate everything that they have done to make the race what it is. I have always been thankful for the numerous volunteers and Eastman employees who donate their time to the events."
"I have also received a lot of enjoyment watching the younger runners grow and progress from the youth runs to the 2-mile and now the 10K," Fox added.
The last 18 years have brought some changes surrounding the event, which this year includes the Food City 10K, Eastman Credit Union 2 Mile Run, Eastman 2 Mile Walk and HealthFitness Youth Runs. One of the biggest of those changes came two years ago when the 3K was modified to become the 2-mile run in accordance with Tennessee State records. In the first year, there were 70 records marked and that was followed up with 30 records last year. A check of the Tennessee State Running records website finds the race well represented in both the male and female classes.
"We are lucky to have a flat course and it is a great opportunity for someone gunning for a state record," Fox explained.
The race is known for the caliber of commemorative shirts provided for the runners. Last year, the event paid tribute to the Tennessee/Virginia Tech football game with runners able to choose their favorite team colors. This year, the shirts are blue with red panels and have been referred to as Superman colors.
"The shirts were a big change since I took over. Early on before other races started, I did research and experimented with the different types of performance fabrics and over time technology has improved while prices have gone down," said Fox.
Formerly an avid runner, Fox said retirement and two hip replacements have made for new hobbies and endeavors. He now enjoys mountain biking and includes a ride almost everyday. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Bays Mountain Park. He refers to the park as his new adopted cause.
Last week, between painting new markers on the road course, he could be found removing logs from one of the many trails that surround the mountain. And if that doesn't keep him busy enough, his three children are now grown and living in three different states.
Neal Whitten, who serves as president of the State of Franklin Track Club, will serve as the new race director.
Eastman Road Race events begin Friday, Sept. 8 with children's races at the V.O. Dobbins field. The pre-race dinner will be served from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Eastman Corporate Business Center. Extra dinner tickets are available at the door for $2 for kids (ages 2-14) and $5 for adults (15 and older). The Food City10K begins at 8 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 9, with the Eastman Credit Union 2 Mile Run at 9:30 a.m. and the Eastman 2 Mile Walk at 10:15 a.m. The Cigna Fitness Expo will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sept. 8, and from 7 a.m. to noon, Sept. 9, at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center.
For more information on registration, go to www.eastmanroadrace.com.