A record-breaking number of people ran in the 13th annual Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.
8,938 runners crossed the finish at Neyland Stadium on Sunday. Runners of all ages and all skilled levels showed up to race.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a year,” 61-year-old Gary Tompkins from Oneida said.
“I’ve been training for a year to try the Knoxville Marathon to see if I can make it or not, the full marathon. They might have to scrape me off the finish line, but here we are. I’m going to do it,” he said.
WBIR 10News Reporter Becca Habegger crossed the finish line as a member of the Covenant Health N.E.W. U Challenge Team.
“It was so good! It was so much fun! This was my first half marathon. I hadn’t even run a 5k before this,” Habegger said.
The race started at the Clinch Avenue Bridge. Runners made their way down Neyland Drive, into the Sequoyah Hills Neighborhood, eventually looping back to finish at Neyland Stadium. Fans cheered them on along the way.
“You had a lot of people out there sort of rooting you on and that certainly carried a lot of us through that middle part of the race where you start to hit that wall,” runner Kevin Rhea said.
Dylan Belles, 23, of Greensboro, North Carolina won the men’s marathon with a time of 2:25:15.
“That last mile I kind of started crying. I’ve never won a big race like this before,” Belles said.
“At about 18 miles I noticed I was still in the race and I just kept telling myself don’t give, don’t give up and it was just one of those kind of moments. I knew that I had a chance,” he added.
Gina Rouse of Knoxville won the women’s marathon for the second year in a row with a time of 2:52:06, beating her 2016 winning time of 2:53:16.
For most racers it wasn't about where they placed, so long as they made it across the finish line.