Covenant Health gears up for kids run

Knoxville (WVLT) - The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon’s Kids Run is moving from a Sunday morning event to Saturday to pave the way for greater participation among area youth.

The 1.2-mile Covenant Kids Run will be held Sat., March 28 at 6 p.m. at the World’s Fair Park.

“We’re giving the Covenant Kids Run its own day to call attention to the importance of children’s fitness,” said Tony Spezia, president and CEO of Covenant Health. In the past four years of the city’s marathon, the children’s run was held on Sunday morning along with the marathon, half marathon and 5K.

“Lack of physical activity is the most significant factor contributing to childhood obesity,” Spezia said. “As the largest health system in East Tennessee, Covenant Health wants to help families lead healthier lives. This event is a great way to introduce children to a fun way of staying healthy and provides them with a way to be part of the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.”

Children registered for the Covenant Kids Run walk, jog or exercise an equivalent of 25 miles on their own over the two to three months leading up to March 28 event. On race day, all participants run their last mile together, finally completing the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. The event is for children age 12 and under.

“The children will cross the same finish line that the elite athletes will use the following day, finishing on the 50-yard-line at Neyland Stadium,” said Jason Altman, Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon executive director. The race will start near the Knoxville Convention Center at Worlds Fair Park and then follow the newly completed Second Creek Greenway through the park, toward the Neyland Greenway, and ultimately into the stadium.

“The Saturday race date is easier on families, especially those with adults running in the Sunday morning races. We expect to double if not triple participation to about 1,000 to 1200 kids,” Altman said. “It will also help us achieve our goal of becoming the city’s biggest weekend-long fitness event.”

The marathon’s Health & Fitness Expo will also be Sat., March 28 at the Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Families will be able to pick up goody bags, t-shirts, and race bibs for their children before the start of Covenant Kids Run. The Expo is free and open to the general public.

The all-new 2009 Covenant Kids Run logo features two new mascots to encourage kids along their journey toward completing the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Eddie B. Steady and Ace Smart, a tortoise and a hare, signify that consistency and dedication will earn the kids a fantastic finish at the fifty: Smart and Steady will finish the race!

The Covenant Kids Run also offers a Fittest School Challenge program for local elementary schools to encourage participation among students, promote healthy physical activities, and get kids excited about exercising. Schools receive points for each child that participates and the school with the most points wins the title of Fittest School and prizes.

For more information, contact the marathon office at 865-684-4294 or

Registration for the Covenant Kids’ Run is now open and participants may register online at The cost is $18. Race day registration is $20. Adopt-a-child sponsorships are available for individuals wanting to help pay entry fees for children who might not otherwise be able to participate. Registrants will receive a mileage log with instructions on how to track progress.

For more information, call the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon at 865-684-4294

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