Olympic champion runner to help christen Hawkins cross country course

Jeff Bobo • Dec 26, 2016 at 6:00 PM


ROGERSVILLE — Olympic gold medal-winning runner Bob Schul said last week that one general piece of advice he would give to all competitive runners is that there is no off season when it comes to training.

That would be fitting advice for Hawkins County runners who now have a 5K cross country course to train on year-round at the Phipps Bend Industrial Park.

Schul, who became the only American to win gold in the 5,000 meters during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, will be the keynote speaker during a luncheon on Dec. 29 at the Cooper Standard Automotive plant at Phipps Bend.

Cooper Standard is a co-sponsor of the new cross country course, and after the luncheon event there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. at the course’s start/finish line area below the Phipps Bend campus of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

The new course was developed this past summer by Volunteer High School track and cross country coach Jim Ailshie and school board member Chris Christian with the assistance of the Hawkins County Highway Department and the blessing of the Hawkins County Industrial Board and the Phipps Bend Joint Venture Committee.

In early October, the new course played host to Volunteer High School’s first ever home cross country meet with 11 high school and middle school teams participating.

Later that month it was also the venue when Cherokee High School hosted the IMAC championship meet with schools from Sevier, Cocke, Hamblen, and Knox counties in competition.

Ailshie told the Hawkins County Commission last week that the uses for the course extend beyond student competitions.

“The course is ideal. It’s beautiful and it’s scenic,” Ailshie said. “There’s no ideal other location in the Tri-Cities regarding cross country venues. Kingsport doesn’t really have one, nor does Johnson City. We’ve got a unique opportunity to not only develop this course for our students in Hawkins County, but also provide a walking trail for people who work at Phipps Bend Industrial Park and the public at large.”

Ailshie met Schul through a mutual friend whom Ailshie trained with during his competitive days, and Schul has also instructed Ailshie’s son Bryce, who is currently competing in track and field at the University of Wyoming.

A film of Schul’s Olympic winning run will be shown during the luncheon.

Schul told the Times-News he’s not yet sure what he’ll talk about during his keynote address.

But there is one piece of advice he would give that applies to any competitive runner.

“The most important factor when they train, is that they don’t back off too much out of season,” he said. “You don’t want the body to have to start over every fall. There’s too many things that happen internally to your body when you’re training, and if you stop training, then it goes back to where it was. Then you’ve got to start over again, and that takes time.

“Just keep up the running whenever you can. That doesn’t mean you have to train hard all the time when you’re out of season. The kids I train in the summertime, that’s their hard part of the season, and they’re ready to go when they get into August and start running cross country meets.”

Anyone interested in attending the Dec. 29 luncheon at Cooper Standard must RSVP by emailing Ailshie at [email protected]

The luncheon starts at noon and seating is limited.

The public is also encouraged to attend the 1:30 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony.

Aside from Cooper Standard, other sponsors include the Rogersville Chamber of Commerce, Hawkins County Gas Utility and Holston Electric.                                         

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