KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dennis Depp was a streaker, meaning he completed every Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon since the beginning; however, his fight to the finish line didn't end the way he planned it.
Only a handful of runners have done what Depp did. He started running the marathon in 2005 and did it again consecutively until 2019.
If you ask his wife, Terry Depp, what it takes to make a runner, she would point to him in a heartbeat.
"We were married for 30 years last August 18," Terry said.
His family lovingly called him, "Denny."
"He had a passion for running, and he inspired a lot of people just in a quiet way," Terry said. "He didn't push them. He didn't push running on people. He just set the example and was a role model."
He has 15 medals from the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon to prove it.
"Denny just loved being part of the streaker club, ones that had ran every marathon since its inception, and so I mean, that inspires us to just keep going," Terry said.
In March 2019, Dennis and Terry got the news they never expected.
"He was diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is an aggressive brain cancer, and it's terminal when diagnosed," Terry said.
In sickness and in health, Dennis and Terry stayed strong for each other.
"It was devastating, but we both had a very strong faith in God and we let that carry us," Terry said.
His solo running streak stopped in 2018, but his son carried the torch for him in 2019.
"Our youngest son, Garrett, ran his first marathon that year with his dad's bib number on and Denny actually walked across the finish line with Garrett," Terry said. "It was very touching, very inspiring."
As time ticked by, Dennis fought until his final finish line on Sept. 25, 2020.
Terry is often reminded of two of Dennis's favorite Bible verses: Isaiah 40:3, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint," and 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith."
Dennis did exactly that throughout his life.
"Denny remained positive, so I mean, he set the example and remained positive through the whole 18 and a half months, so he fought with a lot of dignity," Terry said.
The marathon staff dedicated the 2020 virtual marathon in his memory.
"That came as a total surprise," Terry said. "I'd never seen that done for anyone in the years that we had been participating in it."
Terry didn't want his legacy to stop there, though. That's why she is lacing up her shoes and competing in the marathon relay with her daughter.
More family members are coming to Knoxville to compete on Oct. 3 in honor of Dennis. Their team name is "Every Step for Denny Depp."
"He put in a lot of miles training for the races over the years, and we're doing the same pounding the pavement for Denny," Terry said.
On her training runs, she feels him in every stride.
"I know he's with me and he thinks, 'just keep going Terry, You can do this,'” Terry said. "Never say I can't. Believe in yourself. Set a goal and go for it.”
The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is on Oct. 3. Click here to register.