It was a whirlwind 2 days in Knoxville this weekend! My running buddy and I treated this race like a normal long run, except with medals at the end (if only I got a medal for every long run!) So we finished easy with a time of 1:49. Here are my thoughts on the race:
- A little hard to find, but once we did we weren’t disappointed!
- Extremely organized. We had some inside help, and our bags and numbers had already been picked up. But it seemed pretty stress-free.
- T-shirts were bright blue, short sleeve, really soft tech material. I’ll definitely wear it. Bags were your standard drawstring bags.
- Lots of deals! I snagged a pair of my boyfriend’s running shoes for only $60 (they usually run about $115).
- Lots of free stuff. Which, come on, thats half of the fun of the expo. I got sunglasses from Dick’s and an infuser water bottle from Publix. And samples on samples.
- We got to sleep in for this one, with a relatively late start of 7:30 AM.
- Parking was pretty easy. There were two lots they had circled on a map for us that were very close to both the start and finish. A little bit of a line and wait to get into the parking deck, but there was plenty of room.
- Lines for bathrooms were pretty long, but hey, thats normal.
- This particular morning was cold! I’m so glad I took my own tip and brought options, or else I would have been totally unprepared for the change in weather. I wore my sugoi winter tights, and a mizuno breath-thermo half zip that warms up after a few minutes of running.
- This race had a wave start, so the hand cyclists went first, and then corrals, with both the marathoners and half marathoners. It wasn’t crowded at all, I felt like I had plenty of space.
- My friend had a hard time finding her pacer in the start. I think they may have only had full marathon pacers, which, what gives? Halfers love pacers too!
- I was so grateful for my training in the mountains, because this race was hilly!
- For the first 3-4 miles we went up a little bit, and then ran along the river. This section was pretty flat and fast.
- For the middle miles, we dipped into the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood, which is beautiful. My run buddy and I entertained ourself at first by picking out our dream house. We didn’t have to entertain ourselves for long though because this neighborhoods sign game was on point. So much crowd support!
- This section was rolling, but with a net downhill, so it was easy breezy until you got to the end of the section, where the mac daddy hill awaited you. 2 miles of net downhill all compounded into about a quarter mile uphill. Luckily, a DJ was pumping music to get us all up it.
- Miles 7-11 were on the greenway, which was nice, but a little quiet. The hills weren’t nearly as bad, but at this point all that downhill you ran in the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood had caught up to us, so even the little downhill kickers were hurting. I could see this section being really nice had it been warmer, since the whole thing is shaded.
- The last couple miles are around the downtown area, and this section is pretty hilly too. The only thing that kept us going at this point was the fact that we were so close.
- The finish was awesome. You have one last tiny uphill, and then you do an easy cruise downhill into the University of Tennessee football stadium! Truly epic.
- We got some sweet medals, space blankets, and bottled waters right after we finished.
- I was disappointed that there wasn’t food immediately available, and that poweraid (the sponsored sport drink) wasn’t immediate either, only water.
- You had to pretty much walk around the whole stadium, and go upstairs to find food.
- The only warm spot on this cold day was the med tent. I have pretty significant Reynauds and wandered in trying to find some hand warmers, and they let me sit and warm up. Ifyou have Reynauds syndrome, you know how bad it hurts, so I was kinda cranky that it even happened (“if there was, you know, someplace WARM my fingers wouldn’t be FREEZING OFF!”)
Overall, I really liked this course, especially the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood. So many funny signs (“Naked Cheerleaders, half a mile” with bras and panties in the trees, and then “Naked Cheerleaders on Break! Be back soon!”), and an entire Star Wars themed aid station complete with theme song.
If you plan on running this race, the number one tip I can give you is to get on some hills. I definitely had a much more pleasant experience compared to most of the runners around me. The downhills are what get you, that eccentric loading really kills your legs.
If you’re interested in running this race next year, and have any unanswered questions, feel free to comment below!