Hal Canfield was one of the original founders of the Knoxville Track
and Field Club in 1962. Hal, Charlie Durham, B.E.Sharp, Ben Plotnicki
and a few other men interested in promoting high school track & field
and running in the community began to organize the Knoxville Track Club,
the original goal being to organize a team for track competition in AAU
summer meets in the Southeast.
Within a year, Hal, Charlie, Bob Neff, Jerry Wrinkle and Chuck Rohe had
established the Knoxville Track & Field Club as a charter organization
with a set of by-laws. Hal was the first President of the club.
In the fall of 1962, Hal, helped by his late wife Ginny, founded and
directed the KTC running program, which included high school cross-country
meets throughout East Tennessee.
In the days before road races and marathons were popular, Hal was a pioneer
in staging the first road races in the Southeast. Operating on no budget
at all, Hal began a series of road races, the first of which was a 10K
cross-country race on the UT Ag campus. The KTC program of road race activity
was the first of its kind in the entire Southeast. The founders and organizers
of such clubs as Atlanta, Chattanooga, Huntsville, Birmingham and Nashville
received their initiation into the sport from participation in Knoxville
Track Club competitions organized by Hal.
In addition to organizing and directing all these events Hal was an exceptional
athlete, completing a total of 38 marathons, including 18 consecutive
Boston Marathons (1959 through 1976). He also competed in the 1964 and
1968 Olympic Marathon Trials.
Hals first big KTC road race was the Cades Cove Ten Miler, which
attracted nationally ranked runners from around the country. Later Hal
and KTC started the Smoky Mountain Marathon. In those early days of KTC
road racing, three American records were recorded in KTC events, as Hal
took road racing to a new level in the Southeast.
In order to successfully conduct track competitions, Hal, Charlie, Chuck
Rohe and the other KTC founders, including inductees Bob Neff and Al Rovere,
formed the track officials association in the mid sixties. They officiated
all of the high school and college meets in Knoxville and began to conduct
Coaches Clinics and Officials Clinics. At this time they began to get
officials certified by the AAU.
Hal has received the highest honor by USATF in recognition of his track
officiating skills, being named an Emeritus Official, and culminating
with his selection as the Outstanding Track Official of the Year by the
Athletics Congress/USA. He served as an official for the 1984 Olympic
Games, the 1987 Pan American Games, and other national and international
Hal and Charlie Durham started the KTC Youth Program, sponsored by the
Fountain City Jaycees and the Knoxville City Recreation department, in
the late 1960s. Originally there were six practice centers: Evans-Collins;
Fulton, West, Central, East and South high schools, with the meets held
at Evans-Collins. What started as about 150 kids, including fellow inductee
Terry Crawford, now numbers thousands at tracks around East Tennessee,
under the current leadership of Marty Sonnenfeldt. Hundreds of outstanding
high school and college athletes, as well as community leaders have come
out of the KTC Youth Athletic Program.
All the while, Hal has used the artistic skills developed at the Julliard
School of Music. For 23 years he was first violinist with the Knoxville
To marvel at what Hal and his associates achieved with very limited funds
as the KTC was born is best exemplified in the following story submitted
by Hayes Hunter:
Back in the mid-70s there was a KTC race advertised as a
10K Relay that started and finished in the village of Concord with Hal
being the race director. Hal laid out and measured the course. The relay
team was a two man team with Hal determining the team partners and not
revealing who they were until the race was over. Finish places were determined
by the combined time of the two team members.
Hal arrived well before race time, registered all the runners and distributed
our bib numbers, gave us our pre-race instructions, and fired the starting
gun. He next drove to the 5K turn-around on Turkey Creek Road, set up
a water station, and handed water to all the runners. After the last runner
passed the water station, and the litter was cleaned, Hal drove back to
the finish line where he clocked and recorded the finish times.
In short order, Hal hand-calculated the team results, determined the
order of finish of each team, and then presented the awards.
This is the only race I have ever run that was conducted by one person,
and I am convinced that no one but Hal could have successfully done it.
Probably there is no one other than Hal that would even attempt to do
Hal was honored as an inductee in the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of