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.

Knoxville Christmas Parade 2011: Please Cut this Out!

Horses in the 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

In addition to floats, there are a number of random parts to parades in the south. We must have horses and I’m good with that. We must have high school bands and that’s great. Good news and bad news in this years crop: Many of them didn’t seem to be playing very much as they passed me. I could hold an instrument, guys: play those bad boys!


Marching Band, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 

Marching Girls, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 

Marching Band, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

On the good side, the ones who played, played Christmas songs! That’s nothing small in Big Orange Country. Those of you outside this area may not understand how big a deal it was that I attended a Christmas Parade in Knoxville and didn’t hear “Rocky Top” even once. I sincerely thank every band director who had a part in the musical selections for avoiding this abomination.

Dancing Presents, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 

Neon Dancing Guy, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade



Chefs in a Truck, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

We also need a little bit of weird just to keep things interesting. I liked the dancing presents, though I think I would have died if I’d been told that would be my part in the parade. There was a dancing glow-in-the-dark guy who was hilarious and then there were two apparent chefs in a white cart. Maybe they were lost, I’m not sure.

Then there were the floats and participants who just need to be cut. Like the vehicles below: if you have a cool vehicle (even if you sponsor the parade) you don’t get to just ride around and advertise your business. Please do not come back!


WIVK Vehicle, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 

Harley Davidson Truck and Trailer, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade



Advertisement, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 

Plumbing Truck, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 There were non-floats masquerading as floats like these:


More effort, please, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 

Come on Scouts, Be Prepared Next Year!

 Like last year, there was Wraslin’. Please, people. This makes us look incredibly red neck. Wait, what?



Wrasslin’ for Baby Jesus, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

Finally, I could not stand the last two. For contrast with the first, I’ve included a weak float that at least knows whose birthday this is about. The next photo shows Coldwell Bankers forcing their agents to march with signs and a giant birthday cake – not celebrating that little baby for whom we have the holiday – no, they are celebrating their own birthday. Poor taste guys, really.


The Correct Birthday for the Occasion

 

Embarrassment, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

The absolute worst, in my opinion was a pure campaign float. Nothing to do with Christmas. It’s shameless. I do not know Mr. or Ms. Whitehead who is running for County Tax Assessor. Please vote for his or her opponent. Really. 

The Worst Entry in the 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

So, that was fun. Next year I’m sure there will be a whole new crop of atrocities to lampoon. In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the season and all the great Christmas activities in the city. Happy Holidays, Y’all.

Knoxville Christmas Parade 2011: Top Ten Floats!

So, last year I probably focased a little too much on the worst of the parade and there was plenty of that this year, but I’ll get to it later. First, let’s look at the best of the floats. Some groups really go all out and actually consider what they are doing, how it will look and they spend the time and money to make it look good. Too many floats look like trailers with lights and bunting or like an advertisment with a Christmas theme.

First, a few honorable mentions. These floats were good enough, but didn’t quite make the top ten. Good effort, still.



Honorable Mention #1, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade




Honorable Mention #2, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

Now for the top ten best floats. Of course, there are caviets: I might have missed some of them. The biggest consideration, of course, is that this is just my personal opinion. But really, where else are you going to turn for an alternative top ten? I hope you enjoy. Say so if you disagree with my choices. I’m not Mr. Christmas, just a guy paying attention in the city.



#10 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade



#10 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade


I realize the Tennessee Valley Fair doesn’t have much to do with Christmas, but look at the effort they gave to the float. I can’t remember if it is the same thing as last year, but it’s pretty impressive. It must have taken quite a bit of work.


#9 Best Christmas Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

I think there were a couple of floats with live music this year and this was one of the best. The float was well done and the music was good. I know they are promoting something or another, but so was virtually everyone else. I could use more live music.


#8 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

I know it’s Shoney’s and I know I trash-talked a little last year about the idea of a Shoney’s float in the parade, but they did a nice job, don’t you think? I can only work with what I have. Go Shoney’s Bear!



#7 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 You might expect WIVK, which sponsors the parade, would have a good float and you’d be right. I have no idea who their “celebrities” are, but they have Santa who is, naturally, accompanied by the WIVK Frog. My only real complaint here is that the float was in the middle of the parade. Who ever heard of such a thing. You save Santa for the last, people! After Santa what else is there in a Christmas parade?



#6 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade



#5 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade



#4 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

How about the City and County working together on a float? Knox County Mayor Burchett seemed to be having a good time. Knoxville Mayor Brown and his wife seemed to be relishing the last days of his term. Still, it was the balloon snow flakes that did it for me. Nice job. There are worse ways we could spend our tax dollars like building a flea market - wait a minute – we did what?



#3 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

I’ve got nothing against the scouts, cub, boy, girl or otherwise. Sure they could be more inclusive and I would be happier, but there are plenty of things that make me unhappy and that’s just one. My main beef against the scouts, and I think I mentioned this last year, is that they show up for a parade and think that’s good enough. No, it’s not. Nor was the little trailer with a campsite elsewhere in the parade. These guys on the other hand, got themselves a great theme – Charley Brown Christmas – and did an excellent job. Pay attention all you other scouts.


#2 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade




#2 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

 
 This almost got my vote for best float simply because it is very good, but also because it gets the special Urban Guy Award for Best Comeback. All the groups who put out a sorry float or a half-way effort (you know who you are), take note. Last year these guys had a Ten Commandments Theme. Bad, bad, bad. Nothing to do with Christmas. This year they come up with a great, inclusive theme and execute it in grand style. Great job, guys.



#1 Best Float, 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade

This float put it all together: Great lights, focus on the central theme of the holiday without preaching, wow factor simple caption. This is what you other guys are shooting for. Great job to this group. A parade full of this would be impressive.

So, there you go, the best. You know I’ve got to be a little snarky about what needs to be axed. I’ll close with that in tomorrow’s post, along with a few other odds and ends.

Knoxville Christmas Parade 2011: Vehicles with Lights and Cute Children

Old Fire Truck in the Christmas Parade, Knoxville, 2011

Readers of this blog know from last year that I’m not able to restrict myself to a single blog about the biggest parade of the year. Last year I couldn’t help but break it into three parts: The Orthodox Christmas Parade, The Unorthodox Christmas Parade and The Most Bizarre Floats in the Knoxville Christmas Parade. I suspect I may have as much trouble narrowing it down this year. Some of the worst floats were back. Some that I hated last year seemed to have improved this year – or maybe I’ve lowered my standards.

VW Van with two strings of lights, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011

 

VW Bugs with lights, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011



Pretty, Patriotic Dump truck with a string of lights, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011

In this post I’ll rag on vehicles with lights and floats with cute children. I realize a string of Christmas lights changes everything, but does any vehicle with a string of lights qualify for the parade? Shouldn’t there be some sort of standard? At least the city seems to make the various car groups take turns. This year we had Volkswagens, but no Cameros or Thunderbirds. We didn’t even have the Kerbella guys in their little vehicles. I do appreciate that.


Salvation Army vehicle with a wreath, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011

 

It’s a Boat! With Children and Lights! Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011



Cool Old Car with lights and tensile, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011

Of course, there were plenty of random vehicles including boats and garbage trucks. Some of them seemed to have put in more effort than some others at making the vehicles festive. Some of the others, I’m not so sure. I mean, one of my break lights on my Prius works pretty well, do I qualify?

Cute Children on a (barely) decorated trailer, Knoxville Christmas Parade 2011

 

Children on a trailer with an advertising banner, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011

The other thing I noticed were a number of floats that would not pass muster in any sort of way, except they had a load of cute kids aboard. I like cute kids, really I do, but is that all it takes to have a float (or car or trailer) in the parade?


Beauty Queens (or Princesses), Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011

There were also approximately a thousand that combined the two themes from this post and had pretty cars with pretty little or young girls. I lost count of the “Miss Something or Another” cars. Some contained pretty young women and some contained girls so young and so made-up they could be contestants for Toddlers and Tiaras. It’s just a little unsettling to me, without even getting into the whole beauty industry issue. 

Motorcycles with lights, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011



Car with lights – AND a Wind-up Key!, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011

There were, of course, some great floats and I’ll try to highlight some of the ones I caught with my camera. I did learn a couple of things in this year’s parade: I learned that a Christmas Parade is more fun in the company of an actual child. Urban Toddler has bronchitis and had to miss the parade which put a pretty serious cap on the fun for me. I also learned (unfortunately) is that a dark background (think the western side of Gay Street) is better for photographs than a bright background (think the eastern side of Gay Street). Since I learned this lesson during the parade, unfortunately, most of my pictures this year are terrible. Sorry about that.

Next Stop: Top Ten Christmas Floats in the 2011 Knoxville Christmas Parade!


A Jeep with Lights, Knoxville Christmas Parade, 2011

 

A Garbage Truck with lighted reindeer, Knoxville Christmas Parade