How the TCTC Got Its Start

Photo by Robert Hill

Reprinted from the TCTC Flyer, May/June 2017 

First of all, I remember the steamy evening when it all happened like it was yesterday. It was blazing hot on a beautiful August night in 1977. It was 6 p.m. when I drove onto the Forsyth Country Day campus, where I was the track coach for over 40 years, and it was exactly 100 degrees. 

What a perfect night for an All Comers track meet. The coach of West Forsyth High School at the time was Carlos Cespedes. He loved being able to share our track since his track was under construction. Carlos and I organized a series of summer meets and this was the final one.  As we were raking the long jump pit, Carlos said something like, “John, did you ever think about starting a track club?” He then referenced that fact that he had been a member of the Florida Track Club with Frank Shorter in his college days in Gainesville.  Anyway, I shook my head. No, I had not thought about starting a club. 

I bet we had about 25 brave souls to compete that night in the six or so track events and a few field events. It was so hot that Fast Eddie Stenberg (former Duke All-American distance runner) could not light up his Cuban Imperator cigar after the meet. By about 8:30, the meet ended and I invited the three  folks who had helped with the meet—Carlos, Terry Startsman and Kitty Consolo (founding member of the Wake Forest University women’s cross country team)—to come over to our house for some cold beer and brownies thanks to my wife Carol.  Further down the road it is rather funny that the four of us wound up being the original founding board members: President Carlos Cespedes,  Vice-President  John Danforth,  Secretary Kitty Consolo, Treasurer and Flyer Editor Terry Startsman. At large board members—Phil Falkenberg and John Lewis—were added later that fall.

The visionary Coach Cespedes brought up the idea of starting a club at our gathering at 1061 Foxhall Drive, and we all endorsed the idea with great enthusiasm. It was a most exciting night indeed! We had no idea where this discussion would lead, but it sure sounded pretty cool at the time, after a few beers!

Naturally, this brainstorming did not include the necessary steps toward incorporation that came later that fall, thanks to the help of attorney and legendary  member Bill Walker who is Mr. TCTC. Without Bill’s dedication and total commitment to every facet of the club in its 45-year history we would not have 650 members today (500 in 2017 when this article first ran).  Every member past or present can thank Bill and all the hundreds of volunteers that have served under his guidance in making their experiences better.  Still serving on the board, Bill has overseen so many races that thousands of people know him by name.

I discovered some notes I had made in 1997 when I was asked to speak about the founding of the club on its 20th anniversary celebration night. I mentioned many friends of the club who had made significant contributions during that first year and all during the first 20 years. With apologies to those whom I fail to mention in this report I must let everyone who cares about the club know about some key contributors who were there to RUN and to build the foundation for the club in those early “founding days.” 

Without people like Bill Walker, there would be no club today as we know it. Thanks to Ann and Wayne Yarbrough, Phil Falkenburg, Bruce Sprinkle, Sandy Walters (ROTC Director at Wake Forest), Jim Martin, Guy Spear, Eddie Marshall, Perry Macheras, Bruce Sprinkle, Mack Roebuck and many, many more men and women who helped make the TCTC the best club in the WORLD. Let us never forget the Flyer founder, Bob Sosnik, for making sure that every member got all the club news that was fit to print and then some.

Finally, while it is impossible to recognize all those members that have contributed to the club’s success over the years I would like to thank all present and past board members and all the men and women who volunteered by handing me a cup of water or reading off my time.

Happy 45th anniversary TCTC!  Keep running, everyone, and keep volunteering!

John Danforth was a Founding Board Member of the Twin City Track Club.