The finish line is near for members of Covenant Health’s N.E.W. U Challenge Team. The group of local professionals have been training since December and on Sunday will complete in the Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon.
Many team members have had several obstacles to overcome. Under the guidance of "Coach" Missy Kane, team members learned about healthy food choice and trained each weekend with members of The Knoxville Track Club all to get ready for the marathon.
“It's definitely a goal I never thought I would get to, for many reasons if not my health," Sharon Pooley said. She is a two-time cancer survivor.
Pooley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Two years after beating that, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Today, she is cancer free. It’s what motivated her to join the N.E.W. U Challenge Team.
"You just never know when you're not going to be able to do it. You can't always wait until tomorrow," Pooley said.
Her husband and two daughters will cheer her on Sunday.
"Having her here today is just a blessing," Pooley’s daughter Olivia said.
Houston Robbins is another member of the N.E.W. U Team. His wife, Jennifer and three-year-old son, Barrett, will cheer him on as he crosses the finish line. After struggling with high blood pressure and cholesterol, Robbins knew it was time for a change.
“I didn't want to be fifty and not be able to go outside and play with him,” Robbins said.
He said the last few months of healthy eating and training hard have completely transformed his life.
“It’s been a life change for our whole family,” Jennifer Robbins said.
Both Pooley and Robbins play to take what they’ve learned through the N.E.W. U Challenge and apply it to their everyday lives.
“Three months ago I wasn’t doing anything. Tomorrow I am going to do thirteen miles,” Robbins said. “To me, that’s just amazing.”
The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon kicks off Sunday at 7:30 a.m. at the Clinch Avenue Viaduct.