Annually The Memphis Runners Track Club presents three prestigious awards, which were named for three pioneers in Memphis running and MRTC.
Frank Horton, Jack Rockett, and Gerald Holbrook are three giants in Memphis and Shelby County running history. Recipients of these awards have every reason to be proud of the recognition represented by these awards.
|Frank Horton Award||Jack Rockett Award||Gerald Holbrook
Spirit of MRTC Award
|Sue Street||Mary Anne Wehrum|
|Sue Street, Andy Street||Mike Cody|
|Ernie Lee Jr||Eric Laywell|
|Barbara Jackson, Jackie Jackson||Tom Smith|
|Kikui Mason||Ron McCrarey|
|1995||Rodger Aitken||Gerald Holbrook|
|Teresa Morris||Stan Hollenbeck|
|Pam Bell||E J Goldsmith Jr|
|Sandra Wood||Paul Sax|
|2000||Paul Ireland||Vic Thayer|
|2001||Lane Purser||Spencer Wood|
|2003||Clare Sample, Paula Townsend||Harry Camp||Charlie Ragan|
|2004||Joe Birch||Gerald Holbrook||Lane Purser|
|2005||Cindy Rickert, Robert Williams||Bob Teutsch||Wain Rubenstein|
|2006||Pat Jorgensen||James Holland||Kacey Hickey|
|2007||Mike Rickert||Jeanine Watts||Cindy Rickert|
|2008||Beverly Pickens||Terri Clarke||John Payne|
|2009||Team Barczak||Judy Thomas||D J Watson|
|2010||Larry Wright||Terry Connell||Blair Parker|
|2011||Joyce Blackford||Henry Cotter||George Higgs|
|2012||Steve Spakes, Michele Weir||Breakaway, Fleet Feet||Rob Hunter|
|2013||Linda Meeks, Jim Vuncannon||Marian Castroverde||Beverly Pickens|
|2014||Debi Bookas||Rachel Ragan, Kent Smith||Lane Purser|
|2015||Julianne Tutko, George Watson||Nancy Brewton, Ray Johnson||John Bookas|
|2016||Steve Ballou||Suzie Hicks-Hurt||Steve Spakes|
Frank Horton was commonly addressed as Coach, and referred to as Coach Horton. Frank served as Track and Cross-country Coach at Christian Brothers High School. He served on the MRTC Board of Directors as Running Coach and as Director of Race Courses.
Coach Horton is best remembered for his Tuesday evening "All Comers" track sessions at the old University of Memphis track, where MRTC placed a ground level monument with University approval, following his death. These coaching sessions were held winter and summer, rain or shine. Frank was there one week before his death, and ironically, he succumbed to the dread disease that has taken other athletes, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, at 4:15 PM on Tuesday, about the time his weekly track sessions began.
Two other major services to the local running community were course accuracy, and the return of Marathoning to Memphis after a brief absence. From the beginning of road racing in Memphis, and up to the month in which Coach Horton died, no race course was accurately measured and certified without Frank heading up the team, providing the leadership, and processing the all important paper work with the national body governing race course certification. Those of us who today create accurate courses either learned the method from Frank, or from one who had learned from him.
Marathon history in Memphis started long before the First Tennessee Memphis Marathon. MRTC staged several marathons at Shelby Farms on a repetitive course where it could be done without the very expensive police protection. During that time Coach Horton authored a 30-week marathon preparation-training program. Many Memphis marathoners followed that schedule, particularly first time candidates. In l983, 1984, and 1985 we staged the Memphis Express Marathon from the Racquet Club to downtown and back. After losing that sponsor, we had no marathon in 1986.
In 1987 Frank directed another Shelby Farms race and began looking for a new sponsor. We found the best in First Tennessee Bank, which sponsored the race from 1988 through 2000. After a hiatus in 2001, the best partner imaginable was found in St. Jude.
In 1988, already suffering from the disease that would end his life, Frank designed a course, headed the measuring and certification team, and served as race director, setting a standard that made it the "Best Little Marathon in the Country". The St. Jude Marathon Weekend has its roots in what Coach Horton started.
Coach died in October of 1988. He was awarded the Runners World Magazine "Golden Shoe Award" posthumously.
Dr. Jack Rockett was a charter member of MRTC, and served as the club's first President. His plan as the club's first leader was to make it one of the best running clubs in the country. Under his leadership the club flourished and grew, and his running legacy includes accomplishments of his goals, as MRTC is now, and has been for many years, one of the most respected running clubs in America, with a membership well in excess of 3,000 runners.
In addition to his contribution through the club, Jack contributed through his medical expertise. His specialty was nuclear medicine, but as a physician who ran he was an expert in treatment of runners' problems. Jack, like many of us was prone to running injuries, and the treatments he learned, he passed on to the running community. The award given in his name is for service to the running community and for running performance. One reason for this was Jack's ability as a runner. He was among the elite, and frequently ran with world-class runners including Frank Shorter, Craig Virgin, and Dave Wottle.
In June 1991, Dr Rockett was running near his vacation home in Colorado. While running, he suddenly died of a rare, undetected heart defect. It was a dark day in the running community of Memphis, Tennessee. Two months later, the regard in which he was held was shown at the Overton Park 5 Mile Classic, the longest consecutive running event in Shelby County, a race Jack started, was run in his honor and memory. The three friends of Jack, as mentioned above, Frank Shorter, Craig Virgin, and Dave Wottle came to Memphis and ran the race to honor Jack.
Although the other two annual awards were named for people after their death, Gerald said he is humbled and honored to receive this recognition while still living.
Shortly after joining MRTC he volunteered for the cumbersome task of preparing Roadrunner for mailing when it was all done manually. He also began writing articles for the monthly publication. This probably led to his being nominated from the floor to serve on the Board Of Directors. He was elected Vice President and two years later became President.
After studying the Bylaws he discovered there were numerous he and him mentions but no occurrences of she or her. This motivated Gerald to rewrite the Bylaws, not only to correct this, but to establish rules and procedures that were being done but not required.
After losing our Marathon sponsor, Frank Horton and Gerald were seeking another. Together they met with officials of First Tennessee Bank to solicit their participation. The bank accepted the proposal and remained title sponsor of our marathon from 1988 through 2000.
Along with Frank Horton, Gerald responded to a request from Mike Cody, then Tennessee Attorney General, to offer four state prisoners an opportunity to run a marathon. These four men were running inside prison walls and wanted the marathon chance. They were not violent men, just drug offenders. Gerald and Frank met with the prisoners, advised training schedules, provided run clothes and diet supplements. They then measured a nearby course, and along with prison guards, administrated the marathon run. This was done two years and is believed very beneficial to rehabilitation of these four men.
Again at the request of Mike Cody, Gerald managed the statewide Torch run promoting the Tennessee Sports Fest, an Olympic style competition for Tennesseans. Torch runs began in Memphis and Bristol and ended in Nashville for state finals. This was done two years.
While President, Gerald met with the Memphis Park Commission to request a monument on the Overton Park 5k course, honoring Bob Haney a young prominent MRTC member who had recently died of cancer. The monument still stands beside the starting line of this historic 5k course.
Gerald met with officials of The University of Memphis shortly after the tragic death of Frank Horton, to request approval for mounting a small monument beside the college track where Frank had conducted his training for years. That monument still stands there to remind runners of the outstanding contribution of Frank to running.
As Chairman of The Germantown Parks and Recreation Commission, Gerald contributed to the planning and building of the city's Greenways.
Gerald founded two running groups in Germantown: The Germantown Sunday Runners, now called Germantown Thoroughbreds, and The Germantown Greenway Gazelles and Geezers. Along with Harry Scott, Gerald started a New Year's Day Greenway Fun Run and Tail Gate Party. This event attracts about 100 runners each year.
Gerald logged 31,768 running miles, completed 17 marathons, three with Boston qualifying times, including Boston, broke age group race records locally and statewide from one mile through the half marathon. He was inducted into Legends of Memphis Running and the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall of Fame, was the first recipient of the Gold Standard Award given at the annual Coca Cola 10k in Corinth, and served as Grand Marshal of this race one year. His age group race awards are too numerous to count and most were first place. Gerald has been a two-time recipient of the Jack Rockett Award.
Gerald served on the MRTC Board of Directors for 10 years, as club historian for several years, and has numerous shirts with his name on the back recognizing him as one of the 20 top volunteers of the year.