Kingston Springs Mayor Tony Gross celebrated turning 40 last Wednesday with a daylong 40-mile run.
“The biggest highlight of my run was my friends that joined me along the way,” he said.
Gross said he started running about 10 years ago when his wife, Joy, decided to start running to improve her health and fitness.
“I agreed to go running with her,” Gross said. “It wasn’t really her thing, but I discovered it was my thing. I keep doing because it just makes me feel good. I always say it’s where I clear my head and flush out all if the stress of the world. It all sounds cliché, but most running clichés are true.”
For his 40-mile birthday celebration, Gross had friends offer support by running with him at various points in the day, spreading out the locations that included Kingston Springs and the Warner Parks in Davidson County.
Gross said that he started the trip with Assistant District Attorney and Kingston Springs resident Jack Arnold for the first 10 miles in Kingston Springs. Gross then had breakfast and went to Warner Parks for the next 11 miles and ran with his friend and Kingston Springs resident Wolf Gholson, a triathlete.
“Tony can run all day,” Gholson said. “Running is my therapy. I sort through all of my daily conundrums on my runs.”
Gross said that his wife and his daughter, also ran with him, offering support.
After running at the Nashville parks, Gross said he had a “hot” four-mile run back in Kingston Springs with his dog, Albert. Then it was a 10-mile run with Skyking Pizza owner Cole Bruce at Montgomery Bell State Park before running the final five miles with Albert.
Gross said his total running time was seven hours and 54 minutes which included 3,900 feet of elevation gain.
Elevation gain is the total amount someone climbs in a day, and elevation loss is the total amount someone will descend in a day. For example, if someone climbs 1,000 feet, descends 500 feet and then climbs an additional 300 feet, the elevation gain would be 1,300 feet and the elevation loss would be 500 feet.
“Time spent on the trail talking to a good friend, usually about running, makes even the most difficult times easier and even enjoyable,” Gross said. “The biggest thing that stood out (Wednesday) was the heat. We had a mild winter followed by a cool spring. So, most of 2020 has been perfect running weather. Now, it finally feels like the hot humid Tennessee summer we are all used to.”
Joy said she is supportive of Tony’s running even though she admits having fallen out of favor with the activity.
“When Tony decided that ultrarunning was his hobby of choice, I couldn’t possibly understand why anyone would want to do that to themselves,” Joy said. “Now, years later, I just go with the flow. While I don’t really enjoy running myself, I’ve had a lot of fun coordinating his runs, planning family trips to the middle of nowhere for races, and ensuring that his adventures are fun for all of us.
“And occasionally, I even tag along for very short sections. It has truly been a joy supporting him in his running endeavors. I’m continually amazed how far he’s come, and so proud of all the hard work that goes into his training.”
Gross said he was grateful that Arnold got him started early in the morning so that the weather for the first 10 miles was not so hot, adding that Wolf, Joy and Sophie helped him push through the middle of his run.
“And at the end I had Cole there to motivate me to keep going when I really didn’t want to,” he said. “The final five miles I spent with Albert, my 4-year-old lab mix. I could not think of a better way to finish out the day than just running with a dog.”
His commitment to running has caused him to encourage others to get healthier.
“I also always want to use my running as a way to encourage other people to get moving,” he said. “Just like with Joy, running isn’t for everyone, but there are plenty of other activities that people can do to stay active. Our bodies are built to move, and it’s really essential to everyone’s wellbeing to be as active as they can.
“In Cheatham County and Tennessee in general, we are blessed to have some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces. It always breaks my heart that as a state we have so many that struggle with chronic health conditions and addiction when right outside our doors we have access to so much beauty and opportunity to improve our health.”
In January of 2019 Gross was part of a small group of south Cheatham County residents who decided to start taking responsibility for better health through running. They started the South Cheatham Striders group on Facebook.
“It’s a great way to improve fitness by making friends and connecting community,” he said.