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Racing ahead: Knoxville readies for Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon

March 20, 2018

The 14th annual Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon aims to reach 9,000 participants for the 2018 races taking place Saturday-Sunday, March 24-25. The 2017 race drew a then record-setting 8,938 participants.

“As the largest competitive road race in East Tennessee, the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon continues to grow, not only in number of runners, but in volunteers, spectators and supporters,” said Jason Altman, executive director of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. “While we’d love to break the 9,000 participants mark this year, the achievements we value most are not cumulative but those of the individual – the first-time racers, the runner who reaches a goal and every person who takes a step toward a healthy lifestyle.”

From left, Covenant Health CEO Jim VanderSteeg, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon Executive Director Jason Altman announce details for race weekend, March 24-25, at a March 20 press conference in Neyland Stadium, the site of the finish line.

The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon includes six race events: 26.2-mile marathon for runners, handcyclists and push-rim wheelchairs; 13.1-mile half marathon; 3.1-mile 5K run; four-person and two-person marathon relays; and one-mile Covenant Kids Run.

The Covenant Kids Run and 5K take place the evening of Saturday, March 24, and the half marathon, relays and marathon races are held the morning of Sunday, March 25. Emily Ann Roberts, runner-up on season 9 of NBC’s The Voice, will perform the national anthem at the start line on Sunday morning.

“Knoxville is known for its natural beauty and many outdoor activities and amenities,” Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said. “The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon celebrates both the beauty of our city and the healthy, active lifestyles that it supports. Additionally, the races attract runners and families from across the state and around the country, serving as a major economic driver for Knoxville. It’s a signature event for our community.”

Since the first marathon race in Knoxville in 2005, the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon has grown in size and impact. The weekend of events for children, adults and people with disabilities promotes health and fitness, while also raising funds that benefit outstanding nonprofit programs, including Covenant Health’s Innovative Recreation Cooperative at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center.

The races begin on the Clinch Avenue Viaduct. The route continues throughout many notable Knoxville neighborhoods and ends on the 50-yard-line of Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee. As they cross the finish line, runners can watch themselves on the stadium’s Jumbotron.

“Our mission to improve the quality of life through better health is not merely reactive in treating illness and injury,” Covenant Health President and CEO Jim VanderSteeg said. “We are committed to strategic, proactive steps to improve health throughout our region, and that’s why we’re proud to serve as the title sponsor of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. On behalf of our thousands of physicians and staff, we wish every participant a safe and personally fulfilling race.”

Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon Events and Information

Online registration closed Monday, March 19. Registration for all events is available only at the Knoxville Convention Center on Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for the Covenant Kids Run and until 8 p.m. for the other races (except for the two- and four-person marathon relays), space permitting.

Health & Fitness Expo
The Health & Fitness Expo is open to the general public and will be held Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Knoxville Convention Center, downstairs in Exhibit Hall B, a new location for 2018. Participants must attend to pick up their race day packets. At the Expo, Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of the Boston Marathon and four-time winner of the New York City Marathon, will host a book signing from 2-4 p.m. and then speak to attendees at 4 p.m.

Start Times & Course
All races begin on the Clinch Avenue Viaduct, overlooking World’s Fair Park, and end on the 50-yard-line in Neyland Stadium. On Saturday, March 24, the one-mile Covenant Kids Run starts at 5:30 p.m., and the 5K starts at 7 p.m. On Sunday, March 25, wheelchair and handcycle races start at 7:23 a.m.; and marathon, half-marathon and relay races start at 7:30 a.m. The marathon course winds through some of Knoxville’s finest neighborhoods and features 24 live music stations along the route.

Post-Race Party & Awards
The Pilot Flying J post-race parties will be held at Neyland Stadium outside Gate 21 immediately following the races. The 5K award ceremony will be held Saturday at 8 p.m. On Sunday, half-marathon awards will be presented at 10:30 a.m., and awards for the relays and marathon will be announced at 12:30 p.m. Cash prizes are awarded to the top finishers in the marathon, marathon push-rim wheelchair and handcycle divisions and half-marathon races.

Road Closures
Street and lane closures will occur throughout the center city and surrounding areas during race weekend, March 24-25. All streets are expected to be open by 2:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information and a complete course overview, please visit In addition, I-40 East and I-40 West will be reduced to two lanes from the West Hills exit (Mile Marker 380) to just east of the I-640 interchange (Mile Marker 385) for bridge repairs taking place weekends throughout March.

Fans and Spectators Viewing
Friends and family are encouraged to cheer for runners anywhere along the course, from the starting point on Clinch Avenue Viaduct to the finish line in Neyland Stadium. Fans are invited to support runners crossing the finish line by entering Neyland Stadium through Gate 21.

Post-race Injury Clinics
Covenant Therapy Centers will offer free post-race Injury Clinics for runners who develop aches, pains, blisters, sprains or other medical concerns. Appointments are not required, and participants must simply bring a photo ID and their bib number. Clinics are offered Tuesday, March 27, from 3-5 p.m. at Parkwest Therapy Center and Wednesday, March 28, from 3-5 p.m. at Fort Sanders Therapy Center Downtown. For more information and directions, call 865-541-4500 or visit

Proceeds from the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon benefit both the Knoxville Track Club and the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center Innovative Recreation Cooperative, which encourages people with disabilities to pursue leisure and sports activities. In 2014, Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon introduced the Community Contribution Program, which utilizes marathon proceeds to award community grant funding to local programs working to make East Tennessee a healthier place to live. In 2017, the program presented more than $18,000 in healthy living grants to YWCA Knoxville, The Muse Knoxville, Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, Knox County Schools and Sunshine Ambassadors.

For more information, visit or call 865-684-4294.

About Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon
The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is a premier event organized by the Knoxville Track Club, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the encouragement of physical well being through running, jogging, competitive road racing, race-walking, fun runs, cross-country and track and field.