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Tweetsie Trail Trek to trigger takeoff

All aboard!Photo by Brandon Hicks
The first phase of the Tweetsie Trail, the longest Rails to Trail project in Tennessee, will officially be opened with the Tweetsie Trail Trek on Saturday, Aug. 30.
The Tweetsie Trail Trek is a walk/run that will go from Lions Field in Elizabethton to Memorial Park Community Center in Johnson City. The race will be 4.3 miles, and will be “unofficially” timed because the course is not a certified track.
The competitive race will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the walk will begin at 9 a.m. Cyclists will be able to complete the course starting at noon.
Jenny Brock, Turkey Trot chair and Tweetsie Trek organizer, said a large number of participants were expected to be at the Tweetsie Trail Trek. She also called on all participants of the Turkey Trot, an annual Johnson City Thanksgiving 5K, to take part in the Tweetsie Trail Trek.
“There are 4,500 runners who do the Turkey Trot,” Brock said. “I am putting out the call for all Turkey Trotters to be here.”
The large number of runners expected led to some logistical concerns for race planners, such as how to get all the participants to the race site, and then back to their vehicles. The race starts in Elizabethton and ends in Johnson City, which means the runners and walkers could choose to park at the end or the beginning of the course.
The answer to those issues was found in the form of a shuttle bus. The cities of Elizabethton and Johnson City will be running shuttle buses from Elizabethton High School and from Cardinal Park in Johnson City to the starting line. At the end of the races, buses will be in Johnson City to bring runners back to EHS.
“It took a lot to organize,” said Rails to Trails board member Ray Flynn. “There were logistics to work out. There will be a wonderful celebration after the race. It is going to be a fun event on Labor Day weekend.”
Brock said the completion of the first phase of the Tweetsie Trail was the result of a joint effort by the city of Elizabethton, the city of Johnson City and many members of the public.
Work on the trail began last fall with the goal completion date of Labor Day 2014. The project is running ahead of schedule, with only a few minor areas to be addressed before Phase 1 will be open and ready for public use.
“This has been possible because a group of citizens had a dream and they worked to make it happen,” Brock said.
Once the entire Tweetsie Trail is finished, it will extend from Cardinal Park in Johnson City to the area of Snap-on Tools in Elizabethton. It will pass through Elizabethton’s downtown business district and will also connect into the trail system at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and Elizabethton’s Linear Trail.
Early registration for the Tweetsie Trail Trek will be held online through Friday, Aug. 22. Early registration is $20 for adults and $15 for students. From Aug. 23-29, registration will be $25 for adults and $20 for students.
Participants will receive an “I did it first!” T-shirt and a keepsake Tweetsie Trail medallion.
Online registration is at www.tweetsietrail.com/trek.