With much credit due to the Chattanooga Track Club , the marathon course was designed by runners for runners and will show off the way Chattanooga’s city planning has integrated the urban with the outdoors. Starting at the iconic Tennessee Aquarium, the course shoots straight down Broad into Market for the first few miles with Lookout Mountain beaming like a good omen in the distance.
After a quick loop through St. Elmo, runners will then turn around to hug the periphery of downtown and catch their breath with a breezy downhill slope on Riverwalk Parkway. Runners will follow the river for just a mile then jump on Veteran’s Bridge to cross into the North Shore where perhaps the hilliest leg of the course awaits. After three miles of rolling hills, racers will enjoy the pass back across the river via Walnut Street bridge and continue on some mostly flat and straight stretches into the Southside district.
Once passed the National Cemetery, runners will make their way to the final stretch—three miles of gloriously flat pavement down Main Street. If you’ve got anything left in the tank at this point, burn those emergency fuel reserves in some flat-n-fast fun down Main to the finish at Finley Stadium, once again framed by Lookout Mountain in the background.
“The Chattanooga Track Club, with input from other independent running enthusiasts, sat together within a “war room” to define a special event course never run before as a whole within Chattanooga,” Morgan said. “They created a course suitable for the novice runner, yet challenging at times.”
While the course itself promises to bring the community’s runners together for the day, the race purports to bring the various players involved in Chattanooga’s fitness scene together in a way that will endure beyond the weekend’s festivities. The race committee has been hard at work for over a year building relationships between non-profit, governmental, and corporate partners in an effort to create an integrated community connected by the pursuit for an active and healthy lifestyle. The goal of the committee is to provide Chattanooga with a new resource that will give runners an amazing new course, elevate healthcare initiatives in corporations and other local groups like UTC’s Health & Human Performance Department, and give local bands an opportunity to play for the public.
The full weekend of events kick off on Friday, March 4, with the race expo and packet pick-up at the First Tennessee Pavilion. The expo continues on Saturday along with the Classic 150 5K. The 5K course starts and ends at Finely and covers the last three miles of the marathon course—a straight shot down and back Main Street.
The weekend will continue with the half, full, and relay (teams of two and four) marathon on Sunday, with all three events starting at 8 a.m. The awards and post-race party will last until 3 p.m. within the campus of Finely Stadium.
The committee announced excitedly that they are preparing for up to 3,500 athletes to race in the inaugural event, with help from more than 600 volunteers. One day the committee hopes to meet their eventual goal of 10,000.
What's been most rewarding for the race organizers as the inaugural date approaches?
“Seeing the vision of so many come to reality,” Morgan said. “And then learning from year one so we can enhance year two and beyond.”