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Hundreds Finish Titans Back to Football Run at the 50-yard line

Posted Aug 10, 2013

Titans players, cheerleaders and T-Rac showed their support for hundreds of runners in the second annual Titans Back to Football Run.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Hundreds of runners of all ages welcomed the return of football Saturday morning in the second annual Titans Back to Football Run.

The course started outside LP Field, did a loop around downtown and returned to the stadium, allowing participants to run through the tunnel the Titans use to take the field and finish at the 50-yard line.

Jeff Edmonds, 36, of Nashville won the event, completing the course in 16 minutes, 44 seconds. Click here for a slideshow from the event.

Titans rookies and cheerleaders and T-Rac rooted for participants at the start and finish lines, shouting and high-fiving nearly 1,200 participants, including some members of the cheerleaders who ran the race, as they passed.

Titans Cheerleader alumna Tiffany, a recording artist who represented the team at the Pro Bowl this year, performed the national anthem, and top draft pick Chance Warmack started the race with an air horn as runners departed in corrals. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean started the kids’ fun run.  

“We had a big crowd, much bigger than last year. It’s a wonderful Back to Football event,” said Don MacLachlan, Titans executive vice president of administration and facilities. “Chance was great, signed a lot of autographs, a lot of people wanted to see him. Of course he’s our No. 1 draft pick, and it was great for him to be able to start it like that.”

Jeff Edmonds, 36, of Nashville finished in 16 minutes, 44 seconds. Edmonds set a record in the young event despite arriving at the start line with only a couple of minutes to spare because he was thinking the race started later.

Edmonds, who runs 50 to 70 miles a week, said not warming up may have made the first mile a little slower, but he hit his stride by the time he came through the tunnel and received a handoff of a game ball from fifth-round pick Lavar Edwards.

“I imagined I was Chris Johnson, without trying to be insulting to CJ,” Edmonds joked.

His finish earned him the game ball but he decided to give it to Kristi Totherow, who teaches special education with his mother Suzanne Haizlip at Red Bank Middle School near Chattanooga. Totherow and Haizlip also ran the race and recruited Edmonds to do so.

“I gave Kristi the Titans football I won because the work she does with those kids is so cool — much cooler than winning a race,” Edmonds explained.

Ellie Luze, 22, of Franklin won the women’s division with a time of 20:39. Luze said she runs four to seven miles a day and enjoyed the 3.1-mile course. Click here to see the top 10s or to search the full results.

Dean, who has frequently encouraged active and healthy living, said the race is a great way to promote exercise and he expects participation to continue to grow.

“I think one of the most important things we need to be doing in Nashville and in Tennessee is to focus on more healthy living, which really involves eating better and getting more exercise,” Dean said. “I think when you have an event like this where the Titans players and cheerleaders are here, you get this enthusiasm and it’s a great example of what can be done when you bring a lot of attention to the issue.

“I want to thank the Titans for doing that,” Dean continued. “Again, I think the key thing about this race and why it’s been so successful is you have the Titans involved. People love the Titans and that’s what brings folks out. The more we can encourage a healthier lifestyle, the better, and the Titans are great partners.”

Another winner of the day was Girls on the Run Nashville, a 12-week after school program for girls in third through eighth grades. The program uses the power of running to help prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living.

“One other wonderful thing about this race is some of the proceeds go to Girls on the Run, which is a wonderful organization that involves mentorship but also encouraging young women to get exercise,” Dean said. “I think it’s really one of the best organizations in the city. They have a great cause, and it’s very helpful that this race helps them, so that’s another benefit.”

MacLachlan said the opportunity to support a charity like Girls on the Run is “a great way to kick start our football season.”

“It’s a great community event, something that will grow each year,” MacLachlan said. “I can’t thank our players and cheerleaders enough, as well as the players and participants for getting out there and adding to the initiative of NFL Play 60, staying healthy and living a healthy lifestyle.”

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