KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE: According to a statement released from the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, a race official on Sunday, Oct. 3, learned of a previous COVID-19 exposure, left the race and tested positive. Direct contacts have been notified.
Original: It's marathon time in Tennessee! One of the biggest events in Knoxville stepped off Sunday morning after it went virtual last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon started at 7:30 a.m. on October 3, with runners trekking through 26.2 miles of Knoxville's winding roads and terrain. Officials said that the marathon was designed to show off Knoxville's several neighborhoods, and said those areas are planning to support runners as much as they can.
The morning got off to a wet and muggy start, but a little rain was not going to stop the thousands who trained to run this year.
►RELATED: Sunday Forecast
Knoxville runners would end up sweeping the men's and women's half-marathon and marathon.
PHOTOS: 2021 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon
In the half-marathon, 24-year-old runner Amanda Martin from Knoxville led the pack under a 6-minute mile with a considerable lead, crossing the finish line first and making history as the first female runner to win the overall Covenant Health Knoxville half-marathon with an unofficial time just over 1:19:00.
Martin is a 2015 Farragut High School graduate and ran cross-country. She recently graduated from the University of Tennessee in spring.
Not far behind was 47-year-old Stewart Ellington, a cross-country coach at Farragut Middle School. He would end up being the first man to cross the finish line in the half-marathon with an unofficial time of 1:23:05.
In the marathon, 38-year-old Ethan Coffey from Knoxville held onto a wide lead for most of the race to win the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon with an unofficial time over 2:47:00
"I just won the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon for the first time since 2015...so I'm feeling pretty good about that," Coffey said. "It was a tough day but good to see a lot of people out there."
For women marathoners, 32-year-old Eden Slater of Knoxville led the way to cross the finish line with an unofficial time of 3:15:53.
The 2021 course is also certified as a Boston Marathon qualifier. Each of the races is timed with a chip timing system, with chips attached to bibs for participants in the marathon, half-marathon, relay, and 5K events.
You can watch the marathon again from the pace car's perspective in the video below.
Once runners crossed the finish line, they were also be able to celebrate with music. Organizers said there will be 20 musical acts lined up all over the course, helping keep people moving as they race to the end.
Organizers are also hosting a 1 mile Covenant Kids Run, encouraging children to lead healthy and active lifestyles. Participants run a total of 25 miles in the days leading up to the race, and then finish the event with the final mile on race day. It started on Aug. 28 at Zoo Knoxville.
The 5K event started at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 2. It took participants on a scenic run through downtown Knoxville, starting on the Clinch Avenue Bridge.
Organizers said they expect 3,700 runners at the event.
Some streets will be closed to motor vehicles on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3.
World’s Fair Park served as the main staging area for Knoxville Marathon activities, including the Kids Run and 5K on Saturday and the marathon, half marathon, and relay events on Sunday.
Roads on World’s Fair Park being used for the Knoxville Marathon will be closed to traffic from 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.
- Clinch Avenue between Henley Street and World’s Fair Park Drive
- World’s Fair Park Drive between Clinch and Grand avenues
The Knoxville Police Department will enforce temporary rolling closures along the route, protecting race participants and bystanders, as well as allowing traffic to cross the race route during breaks between runners.
The route begins on World’s Fair Park, proceeds to the University of Tennessee campus via Phillip Fulmer Way and Neyland Drive, down Kingston Pike to Cherokee Boulevard through Sequoyah Hills and back to Kingston Pike, across Forest Park Boulevard to Newcom Avenue and onto the Third Creek Greenway, east to Tyson Park and through Fort Sanders via 22nd Street and Forest Avenue.
The second half of the marathon route leaves World’s Fair Park via W. Summit Hill Drive to N. Gay Street, through Fourth & Gill, across Hall of Fame Drive to E. Fifth, loops through Parkridge and across Magnolia Avenue at N. Bertrand Street to McCalla Avenue and back toward the Old City via Willow Avenue and into downtown via S. Central Street.
The marathon’s last six miles take runners over Hill Avenue from Gay Street to James White Parkway across the river to Sevier Avenue, loop through the Island Home neighborhood and back to Sevier, returning to the World’s Fair Park via Gay Street, Market Square and Clinch Avenue.
A turn-by-turn course description and route map are available at https://knoxvillemarathon.com/marathon/.
All participants will receive a t-shirt and a goody bag from the Health and Fitness Expo to commemorate taking part in the race. Finishers will also get a beanie and gloves, which officials said should be handy as they head into the winter and start training for spring events.