It's carb-loading time in Tennessee
Local artists give a little love to a Knoxville icon
Sunday morning is ordinarily among the sleepiest, most tranquil stretches of the week. This upcoming Sunday, however, will mark the third annual exception.
The 2007 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon kicks off at 7 a.m. sharp from its starting point beside the Sunsphere on Clinch Avenue, as will the half-marathon. The event's other races, including a 5k, four-person relay and kids fun run, have go-times shortly thereafter, and if you're up for it, literally and figuratively, the spectacle is one worth setting the alarm for.
Jason Altman, co-director of the marathon, says that judging from pre-registration numbers, this should be the biggest race yet. "We're ahead of pace," he says. "Last year our total hit 3,600, and we're still projecting 4,000 for this year."
The marathon race route, which winds its way through downtown Knoxville and surrounding neighborhoods, is designed to showcase the city's diversity and show off its more picturesque areas. After cutting across the University of Tennessee campus to Neyland Drive, runners face a long, gradual climb up Kingston Pike to Cherokee Boulevard. But the most intense section of the course lies just beyond the residential riverfront trail, a steep incline back up to Kingston Pike. "Probably one of the best spots to watch is at the top of Noelton [Drive]," Altman says. "It's the toughest hill on the course. When the runners get to the top there's a water stop, a band, a celebratory 'you made it!' atmosphere."
From there, the course follows the Third Creek Greenway into Tyson Park, through Fort Sanders, downtown, Fourth and Gill and Caswell Park, eventually making its way across the James White Connector Bridge into South Knoxville's Island Home. "They do a great job with neighborhood support," Altman says of Island Home's residents. "They're all out in their front lawns, having festive champagne brunches."
By that point, the marathoners will have hit the 20-mile mark, so they'll need all the support they can get. Thankfully, enthusiasm is spread evenly throughout the course, between cheering spectators and the 19 live local musicians and bands--ranging from Christabel and the Jons to Dave Landeo, Plan A to Kirk Fleta--who will be performing along the way. Alton says the bands will be strategically situated, with more laid-back music holding down the front end of the course and louder, rowdier bands toward the end. The finishing anthem? "Rocky Top," which is about as close enough to the Rocky theme song as we could hope for.
The homestretch of the race threads its way back toward campus by way of downtown, including a pass through Market Square. (Get there early for a prime patio brunch seat.) The finish is on the 50-yard line of Neyland Stadium, projected for all to see on the Jumbotron, followed by a competitors' party at the Carol P. Brown Memorial University Center. Altman says that the new post-race venue, with a plaza that overlooks the stadium's entrance, should provide a nice vantage point from which racers can watch others finish.
Up for the challenge? You can still register to race at the Pre-race Health and Fitness Expo at the Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center on Saturday, March 31, between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Those already registered need to stop in as well and pick up their official race packet.) Also, Altman says the event is still in need of volunteers to help out with water stops, handing out medals at the finish, and other various tasks: "There's no such thing as too many volunteers," he notes. For more information, visit the event website at www.knoxvillemarathon.com .
Until then, there's not much left to do but wait--"and," Altman adds, "keep your fingers crossed for good weather."
Get Well Soon
On Christmas eve, guitarist "Detroit" Dave Meers, a veteran of the local music scene, suffered a serious heart attack. "They released him Christmas day," says Michael Crawley, a friend and longtime bandmate. A month later, Dave was back in the hospital, his body prepped for open-heart surgery. "Everything went well," Crawley adds. "They were going to repair the valve initially. But they replaced it with an artificial valve.... Two days later, I brought him some homemade guacamole. He was ready to eat.
"He was actually sitting up, and he sounded like his old self. They had him coughing into a heart pillow, so he wouldn't cough his stitches out. He was in real good spirits, cracking jokes about it."
This Thursday, March 29, the World Grotto will host a benefit concert to raise funds for the cost of Meers' surgery. It promises to be an epic night of music, which will begin around 7 p.m. The lineup boasts such legends as Todd Steed & the Suns of Phere, R.B. Morris, Hector Qirko, Dave Landeo, The Macdaddies, Labron Lazenby, Matt Woods, Karen Reynolds, Tall Paul and Scott Miller, who has made some minor adjustments to his touring schedule so he can swing by the Grotto.
Early in the night, there will also be a reunion of classic Crawdaddy, a band that Meers and Crawley started more than a decade ago. All four of the original members are slated to play: bassist Rick Wolfe, drummer Steve Brown, Crawley on the harmonica, and of course "Detroit" Dave himself, playing the blues-inflected rock that he's been mastering in Knoxville these past 25 years.
"He'll play six or seven songs, maybe," Crawley says. "I called him up the other day, and I spoke with his wife. I could hear his guitar in the background."
On Friday, March 30, at the Corner Lounge, Brendon James Wright & the Wrongs will play another benefit show. "For those of you that have never seen or heard Brendon, he's a real treat, seriously," Meers says. "Great songwriter, singer, picker, and all around great guy."
Wednesday, March 21
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Friday, March 23
Saturday, March 24
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Tuesday, March 27