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Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, left, and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke unveil the new Chattanooga Marathon logo at a news conference Thursday, June 18, 2015, at Coolidge Park in Chattanooga. The marathon is set to take place March 4-6 of 2016.
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The Chattanooga Marathon now has a title and presenting sponsor.

The first-year event, scheduled for March 6, will be the Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Chattanooga's Convention and Visitors Bureau made the announcement Tuesday, two months away from the starting gun for the event that local leaders hope will attract 5,000 participants.

"As one of the region's leaders in technological innovation, health and wellness initiatives, this partnership was a perfect fit, and we look forward to a record turnout for the 2016 Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon," Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel said in a news release.

City and county officials are combining with the Convention and Visitors Bureau and other community partners to put on the race that Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke hopes will build on the successes of other large-scale outside events held here in recent years by organizations including USA Cycling and Ironman.

"If we're going to shut down streets, involve public works and have police officers work, which we're happy to do, we just want to make sure these are great events," Berke said in a Dec. 21 interview with the Times Free Press. "This is a way for us to control our own brand and build that over the next several years."

Officials selected the March 6 date because it's typically a time that is slow for tourism.

The race will take runners through parts of the city rarely incorporated into other running and bicycling events hosted by the city.

Participants will hit downtown, the North Shore and St. Elmo, but also will pass along North Holtzclaw Avenue, North Orchard Knob Avenue and East Main Street, among other routes to the east of the downtown core.

"If you don't include the Walnut Street Bridge as part of the [Tennessee] Riverwalk, the marathon doesn't include the Riverwalk, which is unique for a running event," Outdoor Chattanooga executive director Philip Grymes said.

A half marathon and a marathon relay are also a part of the March 6 event. A 5K race and a kids race will take place on March 5.

Other sponsors for the event, which was announced in June, include Coca-Cola, Classic 150, EPB, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Zaxby's, Fast Break Athletics, Michelob Ultra, Chambliss Attorneys at Law, Good Guy Movers and Kenco.

A city spokesperson did not immediately respond to a Tuesday afternoon inquiry about the financial details of the Erlanger and BlueCross sponsorships of the event.

"The Chattanooga Marathon is much more than a race," BlueCross director of community relations Dawn Abel said in the release. "The race and the events surrounding it are a celebration of healthy living, which we are proud to support as presenting sponsor."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.

Watch video on Youtube »

Updated Jan. 5 at 10:10 p.m.

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