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Thursday, April 11, 2013 - What is the Value of the 2013 Covenant Health Marathon?

2013 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon

  
Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon female winner Courtney Cooper approaches the finish line April 7 as Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, left, and Kristy Alman hold the tape.
Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon female winner Courtney Cooper approaches the finish line April 7 as Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, left, and Kristy Alman hold the tape.
Measuring the value of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon presents an impossible task. Sure, there are many numbers and statistics: 7,500 adult and child participants, thousands more who cheered on the runners along the 26.2-mile course, hundreds of volunteers who worked thousands of hours, the number who attended the Health & Fitness Expo as well as the dollar figure raised to help support the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center’s Innovative Recreation Cooperative.

However, the value of other benefits defies numbers: the health improvements runners made to train and participate, the inspiration of the Covenant Health Biggest Winner Weight Loss Challenge team, two of whom lost 75 pounds each. Biggest Winner teacher Bryan Paschal’s health transformation inspired his students to become more active, which undoubtedly inspired some parents as well.

Two 7-year-old boys, Ethan Roach and Tanner Adkins, wait at the starting line of the Covenant Kids Run April 6. With the boys are two of the wheelchair athletes from 50 Ability Marathons who would participate in the adult marathon the next day. From left are Ethan, Aaron Roux, Covenant CEO Tony Spezia, Tanner and Paul Erway
Two 7-year-old boys, Ethan Roach and Tanner Adkins, wait at the starting line of the Covenant Kids Run April 6. With the boys are two of the wheelchair athletes from 50 Ability Marathons who would participate in the adult marathon the next day. From left are Ethan, Aaron Roux, Covenant CEO Tony Spezia, Tanner and Paul Erway.
  
Glee on a child’s face also defies quantification. Seven-year-old boys Ethan Roach and Tanner Adkins each sustained spinal injuries in car accidents as preschoolers. Through the Innovative Recreation Cooperative, they learned to use hand-cycles that allowed them to crank their way joyfully along the Covenant Kids Run 1-mile route. The boys lead off the kids run to their own starting gun, and they rolled across the finish line on the field in Neyland Stadium, watching themselves on the JumboTron.

Think about each person who trained and ran in one of the six races – each has a story of inspiration, obstacles overcome and personal victory. Especially inspiring is the story of 91-year old Mike Fremont, who set a world record for his age by completing the half-marathon in 3 hours, 4 minutes, one of many records he’s set. He told reporters after crossing the finish line that he started running at 40, and the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon marked his 42nd marathon. The nonagenarian (someone 90-100 years old) said he is alone in his record-setting feats.

“There were no records,” he said. “There was no competition.”

  
Mike Fremont, 91, approaches the finish line. Fremont set a world record in his age group for the half-marathon, just one of a number of records he holds.
Mike Fremont, 91, approaches the finish line. Fremont set a world record in his age group for the half-marathon, just one of a number of records he holds.
One of the most impressive stories was that of the 50 Abilities Marathons team. Three men, two paraplegics and a quadriplegic are attempting to complete 50 marathons in 50 states and 50 weeks, using racing wheelchairs. Knoxville was their 12th marathon so far this year. The trio hopes to show other people with disabilities that they can still take part in sports and recreational activities and challenge themselves physically.

With 2014 marking the 10th anniversary, it will be exciting to see what inspiring stories next year’s Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon creates.


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100 Fort Sanders West Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 374-1000