Fast 40 Dash
Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thousands gathered to celebrate completion of the I-40 Smart Fix project with a unique road race called the Fast 40 Dash, staged jointly by the Knoxville Track Club, TDOT, and the City of Knoxville.
Much of the accompanying roadway architecture and landscaping was creative and appealing.
It was remarkable to think that in less than twenty four hours this semi-deserted strip of blacktop would be blazing with high speed traffic.

Men's Race 39 and under

The first starter's gun blasted off a little after seven o'clock, and the fastest of the fast leaped into action.
In mere moments the teeming throng of speedsters were headed up the long hill toward the turnaround.
Soon Michael Mentz and Stew Ellington raced around the bend kicking for the finish. Mentz claimed the victory only steps ahead of Ellington.
Alan Horton raced his way to third place.
Right behind Alan was Ed Wright.
Everyone gave a big "thumbs-up" to race organizers and volunteeers for making the events one to remember.

Women's Race 39 and Under

Moments after the younger men were done, the 39 and under women's race began.
Three of the quickest separated themselves from the pack.
Dozens of women raced past.
Soon the mass of racers sped past the photographer's position.
On and on they came.
When they came back from the turnaround, 14-year old Tori Daugherty and 28-year old Courtney Carini were stride for stride approaching the finish. Tori outlasted her rival to claim the crown.
As the big crowd raced toward the finish line, excitement remained high with two more races still to come.

Men's Race 40 and Over

As the evening began to cool, the masters men heated things up with a blazing start.
With the pace these guys started at, it was hard to believe these guys were over forty.
The racers rocketed westward toward the turnaround.
By the time they returned, three men had separated themselves. Eric Vandervort (far left) outran his competitors to take the win. Keith Gemeinhart (middle) was runner-up, while Greg Johnson (right) earned third place overall.
Jim Stingham of the Lost Runners looked anything but lost as he raced to a fifth place finish in the men's masters race, heightening tension for the fourth and final race, the masters women's race, which came next.

Women's Race 40 and Over

The final race of the evening found the area's best masters women road racers taking to the new blacktop.
In spite of the warm evening, most of the runners took it out hard.
It was Susan Roberts of Maryville who took it out hardest of all, leading wire to wire for the victory.
Whether striding for a victory, a PR, or simply to finish, everyone gave their best effort.
As runners sped toward the finish line, race organizers breathed a sigh of thanks that the skies cleared and everything fell into place for this once in a lifetime event.
And as nearly a thousand walkers took to the westbound lane in the final wave of the evening, the evening began to draw to a close. The Knoxville Track Club, along with the City of Knoxville and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, thank everyone for their participation and wish everyone a wonderful summer.


photos, webpage layout, and text by Michael deLisle