We were drawn to this race initially due to its proximity to the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon, but we made the decision due to the on course entertainment! The Knoxville Half Marathon posted more music stops than a Rock N’ Roll Race and we had to find out if that was true!
Knoxville Half Marathon Course
The Knoxville Half Marathon shares almost 13 miles with the Marathon runners. Everyone starts at the same time next to the University of Tennessee. Running through a college town is always fun; you get to see so many unique homes, restaurants, and school spirit. Seriously though, even the port-a-potties for this race were school colors! We had some wonderful views of the Tennessee River as well!
The on-course entertainment was very enjoyable. Musical acts were scattered throughout the course so there were no large gaps! There were also some neighborhoods who decorated their homes to provide encouragement to the runners. We enjoyed this, especially through the hilly areas!
Since we ran this race in the back of the pack, we did notice that many musicians had given up near the end of the race. Some where chatting or just goofing off. One or two had packed up completely. Even the final aid station had given up on handing out cups and we had to go get our own!
Is the Knoxville Half Marathon good for beginners?
Simply put, no. Even though this race boasts a 3:30 pace requirement for the Half, the balloon lady (final pacer) was all over the place. She seemed to be maintaining a faster pace for a while, we think this was due to the Marathon having a 6:00 pace requirement. There should’ve been two sweeper pacers, one for the half and one for the full. This pacing was confusing and stressful.
We also noticed an unusual attitude shared between many runners and spectators. There was a noticeable “if you aren’t first you’re last” mentality. Prior to the race, the conversations were only about speed and miles – it wasn’t the normal friendly chatter. During the race, spectators would encourage us to “Stop walking!” One elementary aged girl even told us to “not give up” around mile 4 – since we were on a walk interval. Ugh.
Knoxville Half Marathon Perks
This race boasted a nice Expo that we enjoyed a day prior to the race. We were also promised an amazing after party. By the time we finished, they had run out of many food options. Spencer was unable to get any chicken sandwiches from Bojangles. While we were walking away from the food, we noticed a second table stocked with Powerade. When we went to grab one, a volunteer told us they were for the Marathoners only. We asked simply for one Powerade to share since there were none left at our table. A second volunteer came over to yell at us and caused a scene in front of many runners – this literally brought Katie to tears. We are thankful for the kind marathoner who actually grabbed a Powerade for us. This was extremely unfair since there were plenty of marathoners eating food from the “Half Marathon” area. The race could’ve simply resolved this problem by placing a volunteer at the Half area to direct Marathoners to their own food.
One cool thing we did get was a nice buff that says Half Marathon finisher! We will use these when we run in the colder weather! This was a nice perk in addition to medals – even though the medals were extremely small and lackluster.
Overall, we wouldn’t recommend this race. The attitude surrounding the race sucked, the medals were lame, and we never even found the beer. This race seems to only care about faster runners and has clearly made an effort to push away newer runners and back of the pack runners. We will not support a race that does not support runners of all speeds.