Dr. Tom Bogart is a man of his word.
A broad smile on his face, arms raised in celebration, the Maryville College president led three of his students into Neyland Stadium last Sunday morning as the anchor leg of their Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon team.
The self-dubbed “Overly Aggressive Scots” of senior Miranda Coffey, juniors Zach Pickett and C.J. Burtner and
Bogart finished in a time of 4 hours, 5 minutes, 42.5 seconds for the 26.2-mile course, just missing their target time of four hours. Bogart ran the final 6.1 miles, with the remainder of the quartet meeting him at the entrance to the stadium for the dash to the 50-yard line.
“They gave me the short leg because I’m the old guy,” he said.
Their school’s president is simply being humble, Burtner said. Bogart, an avid recreational runner, more than held up his end. He also made good on a pledge to be a president his students could come to with a question, and, in February, Burtner had a pretty good one.
A member of Maryville’s men’s cross country team, Burtner had run the marathon solo the last three years. He wanted to put together a team for this year’s event. Coffey and Pickett wouldn’t take much convincing. Each was a charter member of Maryville’s “Get Stuff Done Club,” which meets Thursdays for breakfast at Gracie’s restaurant in Alcoa to brainstorm ideas.
“C.J. came to me and said, ‘Hey, you want to run a marathon?’” Coffey said.
While she doesn’t play on any sports teams at Maryville, Coffey said she was quickly onboard. While working a training schedule around school and a full-time job would prove tricky - undoable, actually - Pickett was also soon in the fold.
Burtner wanted someone with real star power to run the anchor. In February, he spotted Bogart walking to the student center on campus and made his pitch.
“It was an immediate, ‘Yes,’” Bogart said. “This is the reason I came to Maryville College, to interact with students like this. I said, ‘Oh, yeah. Just send me an email with the date.’”
East Tennessee is where his wife, Mary, daughter, Elizabeth, and he wanted live, Bogart said. Maryville was just the kind of college he wanted to lead.
“To have that combination come together is exciting,” he said.
Bogart’s accessibility has quickly made him quite popular on the Maryville campus, Coffey said.
“He’s very approachable,” she said. “He knows everybody by name.”
“I think it’s really unique to go to a college where you can get this kind of support from your administration,” Burtner said.
Preparation for the marathon was a snap for Burtner. Coffey had little trouble as well. While knee surgery last fall forced him to ramp up his training at a more gradual pace, Bogart said, by race day he was ready. Pickett was an all-together different story.
Maryville College and his job at Applebee’s monopolize much of his time.
“I didn’t train,” he said. “I meant to, but I work 40 hours a week.”
Things only worsened the morning of the event, Pickett not leaving work until 3 a.m., meeting the team at the college for the ride to Knoxville two hours later.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I’ve done it before.”
There seems to be little that’s routine about Maryville’s new president. From interaction with his students, to leisurely strolls around campus, to running marathons, Bogart said he prides himself on impressing upon young minds the importance of developing the whole person.
Sunday, he made good on that claim where it matters most, where the rubber meets the road.
Bogart is scheduled to be formally inaugurated as Maryville’s 11th president during events scheduled for April 13-16.