This week's East Nasty of the Week would definitely be a contender for "Friendliest" and "Best Smile" if we had East Nasty superlatives. He's a Wednesday night staple and even has his own running entourage, affectionately known as the "Ralphie Girls". It's my extreme pleasure to introduce your ENOW, Ralph Booker!
Ralph ran the gamut of small town Tennessee when he was growing up. He was born in Columbia, TN and went to elementary school there until he was 12. His family moved to a farm in Duck River, TN in Hickman County, and he went to middle and high school in Centerville. While in high school, Ralph was quite the jock. He played basketball, sprinted for the track team for a year, and played a year of tennis. After high school, Ralph moved to the Boro and graduated with a BBA in Computer Information Systems from MTSU. Ralph retired as a Technical Sergeant (TSGT) after 21 years with the TN Air National Guard in 2013 where his military job was a photographer. Currently, Ralph works as a Programmer Analyst for the state of TN. He has worked for the state for 24 years.
While Ralph is now an avid runner, this wasn't always the case. In 2007, Ralph decided to make some healthy changes in his life. He quit smoking after 20 years and started running in 2008. Ralph was like Forrest Gump-- once he started running, he did not stop. His first half marathon was the CMM in 2009, and that would be the first of many. In fact, his most rewarding running accomplishment is having completed 11 half marathons. As for his best half marathon, that would be 2012’s CMM half. He had a super speedy time of 2:04.
So, just how did Ralph find out about the incomparable East Nasty group? As per usual, a couple of friends told him about East Nasty, and peer pressured him into joining. He started running with the group in January of 2012 and hasn't looked back. His favorite part of the group is the socializing and camaraderie with East Nasty members. Far and away, his most memorable times have been spent with his good friends Denise Leaver, Shelley Norton, and Dawn Bogic, nicknamed by Ralph's ex girlfriend as the aforementioned "Ralphie Girls."
Speaking of the Ralphie Girls, let's hear from two of them about our newest ENOW.
Denise Leaver had this to say about Ralph: "Ralph is one of the most loving and kind people I know! He's been with so many of us through life's ups and downs, encouraging us, and making us laugh! He perseveres with his running and workouts, and is always challenging himself to do the next race and to rock that race! I love Ralphie to pieces! So proud and happy for you, Ralph! Oh and he's an awesome karaoke singer!"
Shelley Norton also said this: "It's actually really hard to put into words what an amazing person Ralph is. All the time we have spent together running, talking, dancing, eating, and drinking and most of all laughing, has made Ralph one of my closest friends. I admire the fact that he is so determined to keep running and stay in shape for is sweet daughter. Wow, do I love this guy!!"
Aside from running, Ralph's hobbies are photography and traveling (and, apparently, singing a mean karaoke). However, even with all of his running accomplishments, the best moment of his life was when he became a father for the first time in October 2014 to his beautiful daughter, Annika.
Congratulations, Ralph, on all of your running success, fatherhood, being loved by many, and for being this week's ENOW! And on this Memorial Day, thank you for your service!