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Great Smoky Mountains during a colorful sunrise

When Bill Sorrell joined the Air Force, he said goodbye to his hometown in eastern Tennessee and went off to see the world. He couldn't have imagined that 33 years later he would leave it all to come back and work as a Great Smoky Mountains National Park Ranger.

For Bill, finding his park was finding home again.

Over the past few years Bill found an interest in long-distance running. As he began to run further and faster, he searched for races to run. One day, he found one that would take him back near his hometown and one of his favorite places on earth – the Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon.

That visit would change the course of his life.

"I've always wanted to return, but coming home for the race last year set a fire that I couldn't put out."

As soon as he got home after a weekend of camping and exploring the park, Bill began to search for jobs in the Knoxville, TN area. Not too long after he found the perfect job managing emergency communications in Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself.

"After 33 years with the Air Force it has been a pleasant and exciting change. It was absolutely the right decision."

Last updated June 6, 2016.

Vacation Races puts on half marathons around the country near our national parks. Learn more about any of the races at – adventure is calling!

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