March 25, 2009 -
The fifth annual Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is becoming the city’s biggest weekend-long fitness event, offering a health and fitness exposition open to the public, motivational speakers, children’s activities and five different running events.
“There will be 5,000 runners taking part in these races - ranging from children to people who have grandchildren and every age in between - and all of them will be having a wonderful time,” said Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. “I think that’s a great reflection on the hard work that Covenant Health, the Knoxville Track Club and others do to make this such a wonderful experience for the runners and for Knoxville.”
“The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is already a great event and it only gets better each year,” Haslam added.
One of the largest competitive road races in East Tennessee, the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is actually five different marathon events: 26.2-mile marathon, 13.1-mile half marathon, four-person marathon relay, 3.1-mile 5K run and one-mile kids run.
“For all of these races, our goal of sponsorship is the same: to fulfill Covenant Health's mission of improving the quality of life in East Tennessee through better health,” said Tony Spezia, president and CEO of Covenant Health.
Spezia said the events inspire hundreds of adults and children to exercise—for fun, and to make physical fitness a priority in their lives.
“Children, especially, often do not get the exercise they need to build strong bodies and minds,” Spezia said. “With the Covenant Kids Run, we’ve motivated more than 600 kids to participate this year.”
To call attention to the importance of children’s fitness, the kids run is being held on Saturday instead of Sunday morning as in the past. Children and their families will begin assembling at the World’s Fair amphitheater at 5 p.m. for a warm-up party with Covenant Health’s Missy Kane, costumed characters, prizes and live musical entertainment. The non-competitive one-mile run will start at 6 p.m., and children will be sent out in waves of 75.
Parents can walk with their children on the course, which winds from World’s Fair Park to the Second Creek Greenway toward the Neyland Greenway, and ultimately into the stadium, crossing the same finish line that the elite athletes will use the following day.
The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, half-marathon and relay will begin at 7 a.m. Sunday on the Clinch Avenue Bridge over World’s Fair Park, followed by the 5K Run. All races will finish on the 50-yard line inside the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium. Each runner’s finish will be broadcast over the stadium’s JumboTron.
The marathon will follow the same course as last year, beginning on the Clinch Avenue Bridge near the Knoxville Convention Center and winding through the neighborhoods of Fort Sanders, Sequoyah Hills, Fourth & Gill, Parkridge, Island Home, and Old Sevier, as well as downtown and the University of Tennessee campus.
Live entertainment will be featured at 17 different sites along the course, and the Party Boys DJ Show will be at the start, finish, Pilot post-race party and several other locations. “The community is invited and encouraged to cheer on the runners and participate in marathon events,” said Jason Altman, Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon race director.
“The public is invited to attend our Health and Fitness Expo at the Knoxville Exhibition Center,” Altman said. “More than 30 exhibitors will offer health and nutritional information, free samples, sports apparel, the latest in running gear and more.”
Chris Gillespie, motivational speaker and founder of Team 413-GRACERUNNER Ministries, will speak at the Expo at noon, and the public is welcome to attend. The Expo is from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, at the Knoxville Exhibition Center. All runners and participants must come to the Expo to pick up their race packets, and it is the only location for last-chance registration for all marathon events, including the Covenant Kids Run.
Altman said that this year’s marathon promises to be a first-class event for everyone, thanks to the support of local businesses and sponsors. There will be goody bags and the Pilot post-race party for all adult runners and cash prizes for top finishers in both the marathon and half marathon.
The event will necessitate road and lane closures through the city – most streets will see staggered closures and re-openings. All streets are expected to be open by 2 p.m. Sunday.
Motorists who need to reach Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital on Sunday morning should take Alcoa Highway to the Cumberland Avenue exit and enter the Fort Sanders area via 20th Street. In addition, parking will be prohibited on Clinch Avenue between 11th and 16th Street, and vehicles parked on the street will be towed Saturday evening.
Maps of the course and recommended spectator viewing sites are available at www.knoxvillemarathon.com and www.cityofknoxville.org.