Bluegrass Half Marathon, benefiting Niswonger Children's Hospital, boasts redesigned course, finish


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The fifth annual Bluegrass Half Marathon, one of the area’s biggest running events, is coming up Sept. 21 as a benefit for Niswonger Children’s Hospital and will boast a redesigned course route.

The 13.1-mile event starts at The Millennium Centre near East Tennessee State University and will finish at Thomas Stadium, the ETSU baseball facility. Start time is 7:30 a.m. Last year’s race had more than 800 finishers, counting individual and relay team participants.

“We’ve changed the course a little and we think improved it,” said Karen Hubbs, race coordinator. “I think it’ll actually be a little flatter than before because we’ve taken the longest hill out of the course.

“The highlight is the finish inside Thomas Stadium, about 100 feet from the big screen. The runners will be on the big screen as they come in, and that’ll be a nice touch. And the route passes by Niswonger Children’s Hospital twice – at the beginning and the end.”

A post-race party will take place in the stadium parking lot, providing a tailgating environment as the runners come into the stadium.

Register online at by 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19. Packet pickup will be Sept. 20 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Thomas Stadium, with no race-day registration or packet pickup. Register by Sept. 7 to guarantee T-shirt size.

People can also register in the half marathon as individuals or as part of a four-person relay team in family, corporate or open categories. Relay teams must have at least one of them female, and members will pass the baton at 3.5, 6.5 and 9.5 miles. There is also a wheelchair/hand-cycle division.

The race has earned a reputation as a fun experience, with live bluegrass music provided by the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Department at the start, the finish and at each relay handoff area. There will also be vendors, refreshments and awards following the race.

As a prize, the top three overall male, female, masters (age 40-up) and grandmasters (age 50-up) finishers will each receive a miniature guitar.

Registration is $50 for individuals and $120 per relay team if registered by Sept. 15. After that, costs are $60 for the individuals and $140 per team until registration closes on Sept. 19.

Sponsors for the event are CrestPoint Health, Citi, Holston Distributing, Boone Lake Bass Club, City of Johnson City, Washington County Rescue Services, ETSU Athletics, The Goose Chase and We Run Events.

Last year’s overall winner, for the third time, was J Penny, who holds the course record of 1:11:37. U.S. Olympian Julie Culley was the 2013 women’s winner in 1:27.20.

For more information, visit or contact Hubbs at 423-946-0519 or

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