Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cummins Falls Marathon Welcomes Return of Local Ace

Josh Hite runs alone in first place at the Baxter Street Fair 5K, September 2011, a race he went on to win.
Cookeville half-marathon runner Jan Lowe enjoys the rural scenery along Blackburn Fork. Photo by Monte Lowe.
Cookeville resident Josh Hite didn’t have time to run a marathon.
Even though running marathons was his hobby, back in 2013 when the annual Cummins Falls Marathon was inaugurated, he was busy. Busy teaching English at Vol State Community College, working on a PhD degree at Middle Tennessee State University and even teaching karate after school at his business, Karate for Kids.
So he was busier than most people. But at the last minute he did decide to run that first Cummins Falls Marathon. Good thing too. He ended up being the overall winner of that race. Since then, Josh has returned to Cummins State Park each year to run one of the four races offered in that event – marathon, half-marathon, 10K and 5K.
The Sixth Annual Cummins Falls Marathon will kick off next Saturday, February 24, at the State Park, and once again Josh will toe the line.
Prior to the start, The Tennessee Tech Golden Girls dance team and mascot Awesome Eagle will be on hand to entertain and brighten the mood. The Golden Girls finished third and Awesome Eagle earned first in recent national collegiate competition.
The Cummins event typically attracts over 300 runners. Some 40 percent of runners are from Tennessee. Around two dozen states and a few foreign countries are usually represented.
Winning the first Cummins marathon was just another entry in Josh’s list of running accomplishments. He was not known as a shabby runner. The year 2009 is instructive. He ran 4,000 miles that year. That many miles comes to an average of nearly 80 miles per week. He ran 22 marathons and won five of them outright, appearing on the podium (top three) in 14 of them. The previous year he had already qualified to run in the prestigious Boston Marathon. The following year he would create Cookeville’s first marathon, the Blister in the Sun Marathon—and win it.
Josh’s professional achievements have kept pace with his running milestones. He expects to finish his PhD degree this year. Recently he was named Director of English and Humanities at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, Maryland. When he can, he returns to his Cookeville home, where his wife Martha and two sons, Andrew and Jude, ages 13 and 8, respectively, still reside.  
Saturday Josh runs the Cummins Falls Marathon. The Marathon and the Half Marathon start at 8:00 a.m. The 5K and 10K start at 9:00 a.m. On-line registration is available at ultrasignup.com. In-person registration and packet pickup are at 2-7 p.m. at TownePlace Suites and also at the State Park on Saturday morning up until 30 minutes before the race starts.

Runners stream down Sliger Hill two miles from the start line during the 2016 Cummins Falls Marathon. Photo by Bob Melgar.
Athletes who choose the Cummins Falls Half Marathon run across Blackburn Fork State Scenic River on a temporary pontoon bridge made from plywood placed atop kayaks anchored in the stream, a unique feature of that course.
Josh Hite finds balance in Rock Creek during the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Races in 2010, where runners complete a trail marathon each day for three consecutive days.

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