|On the shores of Watts Bar Lake the best distance runners in East Tennessee gathered for the annual Knoxville Track Club Whitestone 30k and Team Relay.|
|It was chilly and grey as the runners tried to keep warm and stretch stiff muscles in preparation for the task ahead.|
|At least one runner considered spending a few moments inside the chapel to ask for an extra measure of strength.|
| ||Soon runners were called to the starting line.|
Moments later two sets of blue lights preceded the long queue of runners as they charged down the hill and spilled out onto the main road.
|Ethan Coffey stormed out to a big early lead.|
|Bob and Brad Adams followed not too far back.|
|Already spreading out, the chase packs formed and reformed.|
||On and on they came.|
|Some experienced runners dressed lightly; others were bundled to the nines.|
|The long line stretched out, some wearing masks of grim determination.|
|Others waved and chatted lightly as they made their way along the first stretch of pavement, headed for the rolling hills that awaited.|
But after a few miles, it was clear that Stewart Ellington, more than ready to defend his Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon crown, was not to be denied, as he charged out to grab a big lead en route to a dominating victory, only ten seconds off his course record set last year.
Looking amazingly chipper considering they were running 5:40 pace, Andy Baksa (right) and Alan Horton, both also entered in the upcoming marathon, ran strong to finish second and third.
||Kathy Wolski, coming off a painful foot injury, fought off a strong field and claimed the women's title again.|
| ||Blount County's Erica Tedford stayed in close contact for most of the race and finished second.|
|Andy Swann of Morristown, another former Knoxville Marathon victor, was third overall.|
|The ageless Bob Cunningham earned the veterans championship.|
|Melanie Cox (left) was the women's masters titlist.|
|As always, an intrepid core of volunteers were indispensable in making the race a success.|
The rolling wooded terrain of the Whitestone course remains one of its greatest assets, as well as heping to make this event one of road racing's best kept secrets.
Congratulations to all who participated in the 2010 Whitestone 30k and Team Relay. The next and final leg in the KTC Winter Long Distance Series is the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, Half Marathon, 5k, and Covenant Kids Run held during the weekend of March 28-29.
See you there !!!
webpage layout, and text by Michael deLisle
photos by Michael deLisle and Steve Zimo