I first met Mark Charlton on an 8-mile tempo training run around Shelby Park. Over the last mile and a half, Mark, who was the group leader, slowed his roll just enough to trot back to the Nature center, and distract me from my aching joints with a discussion on Russian literature. As it turns out, Mark is a well-read history buff. And a great running partner. Born and raised right here in Nashville, Tennessee, both sides of Mark's extended family came to Middle Tennessee on revolutionary war commissions. And though Mark never served in the military per se, he did design the Secure Internet Protocol Routing network for the Department of Defense in Fort Knox. (Yep, I don't know what that means either, and that must mean it's a big deal.) Also, he is the self-proclaimed "Eddie Van Halen of skill saws," who once set the world record speed for house building.
When he isn't working secret missions for the DoD or breaking Habitat for Humanity records, Mark manages his small business set up to help people turn their ideas to profitable products.
At the ripe young age of 49, Mark lives on a houseboat on Percy Priest lake with his potbellied schnauzer. "I have the biggest back yard in town," Mark says with a chuckle. He has a classic smile, a few spaces between his teeth, and a true love of running for the sake of it.
"I joined East Nasty two years ago," Mark says. "I love the way I feel after a run, and I want to keep getting better, physically, spiritually, and mentally everyday."
A Libertarian who loves Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, and a little Sinatra every now and again, Mark has a no-nonsense faith in humankind. When faced with someone who disagrees with his philosophy, Mark's been known to quip, "The difference between you and me is, 'You believe men will only do good when forced. I believe men will do best when free.'"
And Mark feels most free on the road. These days, you can find Mark trudging up one of East Nashville's many hills, or organizing a long morning run... his place of worship.
"EN is my church," Mark says. "Everybody is welcome, no requirements or expectations on being here, but if you keep showing up, a year from now you'll be a better person and you'll probably pick up a friend or two."