2013 Covenant Health Biggest Winner team
Courtesy: Covenant Health
Thousands of runners and walkers hit the streets of Knoxville this weekend in the Covenant Health Knoxville marathon.
For one group of runners, crossing the finish line marks the culmination of months of work learning about good health as a team.
The members of this year's Covenant Health Biggest Winner team have worked since last fall to lose weight, make better health decisions and change their lives.
Along the way, they worked out with coaches and learned about better nutrition.
B.J. Tefler lost 75 pounds in the challenge -- the most in the program's history.
He said he's making health changes because he wants to be there for his family.
"I have three boys: 2, 4 and 6. And they're the most important things in my life," Telfer said.
Those healthy choices made an impact for each member of the team well before they crossed the finish line.
"I've lost 25 pounds and I'm soon going to be off my blood pressure medicine. And I know that I can do something that my brother hasn't ever done," said Scott Dougherty.
I'm a lot healthier than I was when I first started this. Back in, probably September, my triglycerides were over 300, now they're down, they're almost too low, down to 46. So it's just incredible. Cholesterol's down, all the health stuff is doing really well," said Bryan Pachal, this year's overall winner for the challenge.
The team says having the support of each other made a big difference.
"The coaching team has been great. They've been very supportive. They've enabled us to be a great team," said Dougherty.
"You've got somebody there constantly that's going to show up even when it's raining or snowing. You know somebody's going to be there and you don't want to let them down. And at first you think, a team's not that big of a deal, but man, after like two or three weeks, everybody becomes your line and the support is just incredible."
Each member of the team crossed the finish line on Sunday to cheers from their teammates and the community.
"This is probably one of the greatest days I've had in a long time. I did two hours, it was my goal, I did it. I'm 75 pounds lighter than last year and an hour faster than last year," Bryan Pachal said after the race.
"I feel great. It was a difficult course, but I feel awesome to have finished. It's incredible," said Kenny Bane.
"9 months ago I weighed 400 pounds. So 400 pounds to a half marathon in 9 months -- you can't beat it. The feeling's just overwhelming," Telfer said.
The finish line is only the beginning of a new healthy, active lifestyle for the team members.
"It's changed my life in that there's a lot of things that I never knew that I could do or thought that I would want to do that now I'm completely opened up to the next challenge," Bane said.
"I'm going to go ahead and fun the Flying Pig Marathon. It will be my first marathon. I'm going to run a couple of other marathons," Pachal said.
"Then next year, I hope to do the marathon here in four hours."