Run Oregon Road Trip: Tennessee is calling our names ya’ll

Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. In our newest “Make a Day of It” feature, we aim to showcase some information Matt has been working through on his runcation planning to Nashville and Knoxville later this month.

My wife and I enjoy exploring new places together, and I especially love it when running and leisure can be combined into one memorable trip (she’s less excited about the running parts). Now that safe leisure travel is a little easier now, our next mini-excursion will see us heading down to Tennessee and the cities of Nashville and Knoxville to see friends and family we haven’t in a while. And perhaps (ha!) we will get in a little running at the same time.

Nashville is the State Capitol of Tennessee and will obviously be a highlight. Having never been to this state, we are excited to explore and be tourists in the ~48 hours we will be there. Now we do know that a (likely brief) stop at the Grand Ol’ Opry will be on the docket, as well as Music Row, but we also found out that Nashville is home to a ton of rooftop restaurants and bars. In a still active COVID world, this seems like an ideal situation. We have also been surprised that many concert venues and locations are requiring vaccinations or negative tests to even get in. We are all squared away there even if this really isn’t on our list to do.

Knoxville is about 3 hours east of Nashville (and is actually in the Eastern time zone) and is mostly known for the University of Tennessee and southern food. We have plans to sample a little bit of both of those, as well as run a half marathon (more on that below).

The running:

Much like I do every time that I travel, I have done a bit with finding some running opportunities. My hope is for a couple Nashville runs via their impressive number of Greenways. We will be staying in East Nashville, so my current plans are for a short-ish run on day 1 within Shelby Bottoms and up to the Opry. Depending on how I’m feeling, I may jet off to see how close I can get to Priest Lake. On day 2, I have hopes for an out-and-back on the MetroCenter Levee Greenway. I definitely recommend this website for planning your own trip to Nashville.

I won’t have as much time to explore running trails and options in Knoxville due to the fact that we are actually racing there! I did touch base with the Tourism Department at Knoxville and they asked to share these sites for info:

  • Guide to Greenways – Run a section of our extensive paved Greenways, depending on length you’re interested in I’d recommend starting at Knoxville Adventure Collective and head east along the Tennessee River on the Neyland Greenway to the UT Gardens (2.5 mile each way). 
  • Trail Running – this blog post from Knoxville’s Track and Field Club on our site will be helpful.

These look great, but I am excited to forego them to participate in the Secret City Half Marathon. This race takes place about 30 minutes NW of Knoxville in the town of Oak Ridge.

Oak Ridge, a bustling city created virtually overnight in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, was shrouded in secrecy for most of the 20th century; only appearing on maps in the mid-1960’s. Today, Oak Ridge is on the map as a thriving city rich in cultural and recreational opportunities not to mention the cutting edge science and technology research for which the city is internationally known!

The course looks really fun (a full loop complete with river views!) as well as relatively flat with only a few small climbs in the first half of the race. And the race benefits something dear to my heart –  TORCH, a nonprofit aimed at serving people facing housing insecurity.

The half marathon route starts at the scenic Melton Lake Park peninsula. Considered a great PR course! Course runs along the beautiful Melton Lake then down by an operational quarry for a change of scenery. Continue along a serene tree-lined private road then wind through Oak Ridge. Finish your race along the water’s edge right back to the peninsula.

I am really excited for this!

Where to stay:

While in Knoxville, our lodging is pretty simple as we are gonna utilize the race discount at a nearby chain hotel. However, we are much more excited to showcase where we are shacking up in Nashville – The Gallatin Hotel.

Standard King

A King room on a weekend in December runs between $185-$215 and an Economy Full is about $155. As we glanced around at many other Nashville hotels during our planning, we found that similar properties often ran at least double of The Gallatin.

On top of all that, we love that they one of a few spots managed under Mission Hotels. They build spaces that not only are great for those who stay there, but they also serve those who need it most. The Gallatin promotes their Rooms for Rooms program, in which they give away the majority of our profits to Nashville’s underserved communities. How cool is that?! It’s totally something that we here in Oregon would appreciate.  Just one more reason to love your stay.

What to do:

We don’t really have much to report on what to do in Nashville and Knoxville quite yet, but we will be sure to report back. Let us know if you have any recommendations. We plan on checking out some rooftop restaurants, as we mentioned earlier, but know that Eastern Nashville near The Gallatin has a few spots we want to check out:

Nashville and Knoxville seem to have a burgeoning brewery scene, so we are definitely gonna find a few spots to try out. Can’t wait!

Make sure you follow us on IG and look for our stories in mid-November!

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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