April 27, 2009 — Some of the key streets in the heart of Nashville were closed on Saturday morning for the tenth annual Country Music Marathon & Half Marathon as more than 31,000 runners and walkers — including members of the country music community — hit the streets in a hot, sweaty mass.
Diamond Rio's Team Rio and Tim McGraw's Team McGraw fielded loads of participants to raise money for charity. Diamond Rio vocalist Marty Roe and guitarist Jimmy Olander were among 160 members of their team, which raised more than $79,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid dle Tennessee, according to the team site. Marty ran the 13.1-mile half-marathon course in 2 hours, 20 minutes, The Tennessean reported, while Jimmy completed it in 2 hours, 10 minutes.
Team McGraw hit the pavement to raise money for brain tumor research, with 40 people running the route. Tim McGraw's brother, actor Mark McGraw, did the half-marathon in 2 hours. Keyboard player Jeff McMahon, of Tim's band the Dancehall Doctors, finished in 3 hours, 36 minutes.
GAC's Suzanne Alexander was among the runners, too, moving through the 13 miles in 2 hours, 24 minutes. Newcomer Skyla Spencer was one of numerous musicians who dotted bandstands along the way. Cover bands kept the field pumped with such songs as Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'" and Sugarland's "Settlin'." And the route passed numerous music-related landmarks, including the Country Music Hall of Fame; Tootsie's Orchid Lounge; Belmont University, the alma mater of Josh Turner and Brad Paisley; and the former Columbia Recording Studio, where George Jones recorded "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
When it was all over, Billy Currington performed an evening post-marathon concert at the Sommet Center, the annual home for the Country Music Association Awards. Plenty of runners were emotional over their achievements, and Billy had his own cause for sentimentality. Playing the Sommet was a full-circle personal event.
"Most people don 't know I used to pour concrete in Nashville for Metro Ready Mix, and I was a part of building the arena," he told The Tennessean. "We poured all the concrete in that place from the very beginning to the very end. It took us like two or three years, so I have a lot of memories of that place."
"Every day," he continued, "I always used to think, 'One day I'm going to be playing this place.' That's what I was born to do. It's many, many, many years later, but here we are."
With sore feet, chafed thighs and very grateful hearts.