NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More than 30,000 runners pounded the pavement in Nashville Saturday for the 15th annual St. Jude Country Music Marathon.
The race began at a new location this year, starting in the heart of downtown Nashville at Broadway and Fifth Avenue. It wound its way down Belmont Boulevard all the way up to Rosa Parks Boulevard and around Woodland Street to LP Field.
Event coordinators said the intent was to highlight the areas around Belmont, 12 South, Downtown, the Gulch and East Nashville.
For the second straight year, Scott Wietecha, of Hendersonville, was the first male to cross the finish line. He made history by being the first person to win two consecutive Country Music Marathons.
He finished the 26.2 race with a time of 2:25:52.
Wietecha said he hadn't even planned on running this race until a few weeks ago, but he changed his mind at the urging of his elementary school students. He is a gym teacher in Hendersonville.
“It felt a lot more hilly than last year but that's the heat and being out of shape,” he said. “It got a little ugly but I'm glad I got the win.”
He overcame a hip injury this year to compete in the race.
“The Nashville race is kind of like the community race - something I need to represent the Nashville area for. I take a little more pride in this one for sure,” he said.
Jeanette Faber, of Nashville, won the women’s full marathon, with a time of 2:47:32. Joseph Chebet won the men’s half marathon, with a time of 1:10:37 and Gisela Olalde ran the 13.1 mile half marathon with a time of 1:18:54.
Friday afternoon and evening, thousands of runners from all across the country filled the Music City Center for the race expo. They picked up their official race shirts, numbers, and had the chance to take advantage of coupons and free samples.
Several major roadways were also closed for much of the day as a result of the race.
Organizers said despite earlier concerns about warm weather, only a few, minor medical issues were reported.