Knoxville Marathon 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

It’s hard to know at the end of this week whether I should continue recounting last weekend or move the focus to the upcoming weekend. I’ll go with last weekend, but I must mention that this weekend is likely the biggest of the Dogwood Arts Festival, with the Arts and Crafts Festival on Market Square and throughout Krutch Park. The artisan works are phenomenal and the food tent, in which chefs prepare dishes with wine pairings, is one of my favorite single events of the year.

Mayor Rogero, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Mayor Rogero, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

American Flag on Clinch Avenue, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

American Flag on Clinch Avenue, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Still, I must give a nod to last weekend’s Knoxville Marathon which drew several thousand people. The race has grown to include a 5K, Half-Marathon, Marathon and Marathon Relay. Urban Son-in-Law backed off to the half-marathon this year and many Urban Friends ran various other races. I think one reason for the massive crowds last weekend was the marathon, as a number of people came in from out of town or simply stayed downtown to enjoy the other events going on.

Health and Fitness Expo, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Health and Fitness Expo, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Health and Fitness Expo, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Health and Fitness Expo, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists2, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists3, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Arm Cyclists, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

I love the fact that a fitness-based event has become so big in the city. It also works beautifully to have so many great activities downtown to greet any out-of-town visitors. There is no way someone visited the city last weekend, encountered the beautiful weather, pianos on the square, Chalk Walk, First Friday, Rhythm and Blooms and came away with anything other than a very positive impression of what is happening here. They also spent time and money in the Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday.

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Runner, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Runner, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

Knoxville Marathon Start, April 2013

The starting line and staging area always attract me. Nerves jangle about at every turn, runners giddy with excitement warm up maybe a bit too much. Proud families wish their loved ones well. The mayor spoke at this year’s opening and the national anthem makes any sporting fan’s blood reach a quick boil of anticipation. Some are there to win, others to have fun and others simply to finish. Music pounds from a PA system as it will throughout the race as live bands play for the runners.

Entertainment on Market Square, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Entertainment on Market Square, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

John D. Cable and the Empty Bottle Band, Clinch and Locust, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

John D. Cable and the Empty Bottle Band, Clinch and Locust, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

I photographed eventual winner Wojciech Kopec (2:22:15) as he left the start line (red jersey above, number 2), but missed him at the twenty-five mile mark. I did catch Edward Tabut passing the UT Conference Center, heading into the final stretch. He was about three minutes behind first place. He also nearly left the course by not turning onto Locust, but a policeman yelled, pointed and Edward corrected his course.

Second Place Runner (No. 4), Mile Tweny-five, Knoxville Marathon 2013

Second Place Runner (No. 4), Edward Tabut, Mile Tweny-five, Knoxville Marathon 2013

Third Place Runner, Mile Twenty-four, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Third Place Runner, Bryan Morseman, Mile Twenty-four, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Fourth Place Runner, Mile Twenty-Three, Knoxville Marathon 2013

Fourth Place Runner, Stewart Ellington, Mile Twenty-Three, Knoxville Marathon 2013

Fifth Place Runner, Mile Twenty-four, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Fifth Place Runner, Abraham Kogo, Mile Twenty-four, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

About four minutes behind him was Bryan Moresman in third and I really felt for the next two guys as I photographed them leaving Market Square. They ran within steps of each other around the twenty-four mile mark and clearly, they would battle to the finish line. In the end, while Stewart Ellington (No. 6) lead by a few yards at that point, Abraham Kogo (No. 3) would pass him in the end to win fourth place. Two seconds separated them at the finish line. You can find complete results here.

Half-Marathon Medal, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Half-Marathon Medal, Knoxville Marathon, April 2013

Others would pass through downtown on into the afternoon. In fact, Urban Son-in-Law spotted a couple going through around 4:00, well after the official times have stopped. It reminds me of Cake’s awesome song, “The Distance.” All that matters at that point is finishing. And whether anyone else knows or acknowledges the fact, you know. It has to feel good. I never made it to the complete marathon and I admire those who do.

A Tale of Two Lunches: Harry’s Deli and Lunchbox

Today and for the next few days we’ll continue the food theme. If anything defines a city it’s the food, right? Certainly to some degree you remember the cities you visit by the food you find. A memorable meal can be savored long after the taste of the food has faded. As often as not, a treasured memory of a meal may have as much to do with the time, place, circumstance and company as the actual food itself – if the food is good. We’ve all got memories of meals with atrocious food, as well.

Urban Woman outside Harry’s Deli, 100 Block, Knoxville

Chalkboard menu at Lunchbox, Market Street, Knoxville

I don’t often have the chance to have lunch downtown as I did with Buddy Ray at Bella Luna’s last Friday (see below), but the summer affords me a few more opportunities to leave work behind and sample the mid-day offerings of the city. So, on two consecutive days recently I visited two lunch-spots I’ve been wanting to investigate, but hadn’t been able to catch open: Harry’s Deli on the 100 Block and the Lunchbox in their new location on Market Street.

At Harry’s we were greeted by a very friendly and informative young man at the counter who went to considerable lengths to make sure that we understood what we were about to eat would be fresh, local and made in the deli. He said the only thing from a can would be the mustard, which was fine with me, since I can’t stand mustard.

Interior of Harry’s Deli, Gay Street, Knoxville

The space is pretty straightforward with good photographs of downtown sights and sites lining the walls. The tables and chairs are comfortable and simple. When we visited, there were very few customers, though we may have been a bit late for a lunch crowd. It was a bit of a concern to me. They also serve fresh breakfast and that may be more heavily frequented.

Pasta with meat sauce special, Harry’s Deli

Lox on fresh bread, Harry’s Deli, Knoxville

My wife ordered the daily special, which was a pasta with a meat sauce. I ordered Lox simply because I’ve heard of Lox, know it is a Jewish dish and, as a tip of the hat to Harold’s Kosher Deli which used to be on the same spot, it seemed like a good thing to do. The pasta was delicious (we shared) and the Lox were very good (we didn’t share: Urban Woman does no uncooked fish). I don’t have anything to which I might compare the Lox and I don’t think they will make my top ten list of favorite foods, but it was good and the bread was obviously fresh. We’d had the bread before, as it is sometimes available at Just Ripe. Our total with drinks was around $22 for two.

Food for dine-in or take-out at the Lunchbox, Knoxville

Casual seating at the Lunchbox, Market Street, Knoxville

Art at the Lunchbox, Market Street, Knoxville

The next day we ate at the Lunchbox on Market Square. The restaurant has been downtown since 1981, has two other locations and caters, so it is quite the operation. The food there is packaged for take-out or eat-in, though it’s also made fresh in the store. My wife got a sausage quiche which came with mixed-fruit and a muffin. I got a Southwest Chicken Wrap. The quiche and wrap were both excellent and the staff checked in with us several times to make sure we had everything we needed. Interesting art lined the walls and a good-sized crowd took food out or dined in. Our total with drinks was a more modest $18.

Southwestern Chicken Wrap, Lunchbox, Market Street, Knoxville

Quiche (slightly eaten) at Lunchbox, Knoxville

I could easily recommend both places. I’ve enjoyed a number of delis in New York City and while a true NYC aficionado might challenge me, I think each of these places, in its own way, compares favorably to what I had there. I worry a bit about Harry’s. Lunchbox has a long history, a location in the center of downtown workers, slightly lower prices and easily taken-out food. Harry’s set up is different with their emphasis on organic and local food, but with slightly higher prices on a block in which their neighbors Unarmed Merchants are going out of business, I’m a bit concerned for their future.

So, as always, it’s up to you: Do you want a great deli on the 100 block? There’s only one way to make sure they stay. I’ll try to catch them for breakfast soon, if possible, and I’ll let you know how that goes.