KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon was finally held in the spring after three years of dealing with pandemic challenges. Now the message behind the marathon is being heard even louder this year.
“We wanted to put a big-time event here in downtown Knoxville to try to improve the health and wellness of our community, give them something to shoot for, and it caught on like wildfire,” the race director, Jason Altman said. “People love being downtown and being part of that, it grew and grew over the years.”
Participants came from all over the country to be part of the activity-filled weekend. According to race officials, more than 4,000 people competed in the weekend’s races.
“We’re out here supporting our friend Laura who is the owner of The Donut Theory,” Jennifer Blessing, a local resident said. “They are moving away so we are celebrating her one last hoorah as she finishes this race strong,” she said.
Runners had supporters cheering them on throughout the half and full marathon. Sean Drewry, a UT student and a participant of the half marathon, said he had a small victory of his own.
“Last time I got an hour forty-eight, and I don’t know the official time, but when I crossed, it was about an hour forty-five. So it is kind of a big driver for me, I’m pretty competitive,” Drewry said. “When I practice I go at my own pace, but when I’m running with others, I do like that competitiveness and passing so it’s nice that they give a medal out,” he said.
As everyone celebrated their wins, all eyes were on Ethan Coffey. With a time of 2:31:13, the 39-year-old continued his winning streak for the second year after winning in 2021. Coffey also won in 2015. He is the only person to have won the race three times.
“It feels incredible,” Coffey said. “Back in 2015, when I won the first time, I never thought I’d be a marathon champion. So to do it three times is just incredible,” he said.
Coffey said nothing beats winning in the place you call home, especially when you plan to put away the running shoes for a while.
“I think this is about the end of my marathon career, so it’s a good way to go out,” he said. Coffey stated he ran around 100 miles total to prepare for the marathon.
Second and thrid in the men’s marathon were also taken home by two Knoxvillians, Austin Whitelaw and Jeremy Miller. In the women’s marathon, Caroline Kimble of Nashville won first place, Megan Kleeschulte of Knoxville placed second, and Audrey Carter of Whitesburg, earned third place.
“The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon challenges and celebrates the health of our community in ways that benefit each participant and everyone involved,” Covenant Health President and CEO Jim VanderSteeg said. “We are committed to improving the quality of life of people throughout our region by promoting better health, and that’s why Covenant Health is proud to sponsor this event and to renew our presenting sponsorship for the next three years. Why not set a goal for a 2023 race? We’ll see you there.”
The full results of the race can be found online.