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The road to three wins | Runners looking to make winning history in Knoxville marathon

Three men have won the Knoxville marathon twice, but none have won it three times. In the women's division, two runners have already blown through that milestone.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As the countdown continues for the 2022 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, there's a wining milestone three runners are working toward.

In the 17 years since the Knoxville Marathon started, three men have won the full race twice, but no one has clinched the first place spot three times.

Knoxville native Ethan Coffey is getting plenty of runs in before the big race day on March 27. He has finished first in the full Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon twice, in 2015 and 2021.

"I never actually thought I would be a Knoxville marathon champion one time," Coffey said.

This year, he's on the path to a potential history-making finish in the 2022 race.

"I'm just gonna go try to run as well as I can and see what happens," Coffey said.

Stewart Ellington got the gold back to back in 2008 and 2009.

"I've got a bit of a chip on my shoulder to prove that I'm still capable and I still belong upfront," Ellington said.

He's running the half marathon this year, after winning it last year, all while battling colon cancer.

"That was seven weeks after finishing chemotherapy," Ellington said. "I'm contemplating eventually getting back to the full. I would have done the full this year, but I just don't think I have the engine fully back."

New York native Bryan Morseman won the full in 2016 and 2018. He's out of the marathon this year, though, because of a calf injury.

As the time ticks down to the starting clock on March 27, Coffey and Ellington are training hard for their respective races.

"You can train for the half and run 50 miles a week like I'm doing," Ellington said. "But, if you want to take on a full and run it well, you're gonna be between 100 to 120 miles." 

They go through about a pair of running shoes a month.

"I just turned 39," Coffey said. "The miles are starting to wear on me, so this year, I ran around 85 to 90 miles per week."

These athletes look forward to the support lining the streets on the big day.

"Every year I'm just blown away by how much excitement there is out here," Ellington said.

"Having all those people out there who know you and are cheering for you, it just it helps so much," Coffey said.

Until race day, each step pounding the pavement during practice could lead to another first-place finish line moment.

While a man hasn't won the full marathon three times, there are women who have.

Gina Rouse has won it four times and Kathy Wolski has earned first place three times.

You can learn more about how to participate in the marathon or how to volunteer to help at knoxvillemarathon.com.


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