For years I’ve been eyeing the Knoxville Marathon so when the date fit my schedule this year, I jumped at the chance. Being a Sunday marathon, it gave me the opportunity to get in a ‘warm-up’ on Saturday before heading off to the main event. The inaugural Pawz Too Run 5K was being held in Davidson Saturday morning so Nicole and I made the short trip to get in a run. We had a good time and Nicole finished in 34:55, 3rd in her age group and I finished in 18:31, 1st Overall.
After the 5K and a quick stop at McDonald's for some carbo-loading, we headed home to wait for Ken Wong to arrive for the trip to Tennessee. Ken arrived and we loaded my Jeep and hit the road. About 4 hours later, we arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel, checked in, and then walked to the expo to pick-up our packets. After killing some time at the expo, we headed back to the hotel where we ordered a pizza, watched the first game of the NCAA Final Four, and then hit the sack for some much needed sleep.
Race morning arrived quickly so we downed some coffee, ate some breakfast, got dressed, and then headed out the door to the starting line near the Worlds Fair Park. After a few last minute instructions and a rendition of the National Anthem, we were off.
Right from the gun you’re greeted with a hill! The race then proceeds alongside the Tennessee River for about 5 miles before running through several city parks, nice neighborhoods, downtown Knoxville, and finally making its way to the University of Tennessee campus before the amazing finish on the 50 yard line of Neyland Stadium.
|Starting area new World's Fair Park|
The first half of the course is very hilly with a couple of doozies at miles 8 and 11. The second half is rolling but not nearly as bad as the first half. The last mile is very scenic as you run by the Worlds Fair Park, through the University of Tennessee campus, and finally make your way to the football stadium where you enter onto the field and finish on the 50 yard line. It’s an awesome finish and one of the most exciting I’ve ever seen!
The post-race party is amazing! It’s held inside the Thompson Boling Arena where the University of Tennessee plays basketball and is incredible! Marathoners are treated to a special room loaded with all kinds of refreshments including pizza, bagels, cookies, muffins, pretzels, fruit, Gatorade, water, soda, and numerous other munchies. Wide-screen TVs hang from the ceiling so that you can watch other runners finish as you are relaxing. In addition, to help relieve tired and sore muscles, massage therapists are on hand to work away the pain.
As far as our times, Ken was shooting for sub 6 hours but fell a little short in 6:07:28. The heat (upper 70’s), hills, and an extended pit-stop, took its toll. My goal was to run steady and finish feeling strong which I did as the last mile was my fastest in 6:47. I finished in 3:10:04 (including a pit-stop), 1st in age group.
|Ken Wong post-marathon|
Since we were in the neighborhood, after the race we made the short drive to Corbin, KY to visit my Dad before heading back to North Carolina Monday morning. It capped off a great weekend filled with racing, running with friends, and visiting family. As far as the Knoxville Marathon, it’s a great event that I would recommend to any runner, hills and all!
|Bobby Aswell at Neyland Stadium|