CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Each summer thousands of Tennesseans and others from across the Southeast descend on Chattanooga to experience the music, food and camaraderie of the Riverbend Festival. Then there are those who look forward to the obstacles, challenges and miles of fitness and fun that the festival also provides.

Those miles of enjoyment can be found along the courses of the annual BlueCross Riverbend 5K Run, one-mile Fun Walk and multi-sport urban Challenge.

Anchoring the nine-day festival, these sporting and fitness events are designed to bring a wellness component to the community celebration.

“Exercise and healthy lifestyles are integral to Tennesseans’ happiness and quality of life,” said Linda Andreae, vice president of underwriting and product development for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Chattanooga Track Club president. “We felt that the run and challenge were ideal ways for us to support Riverbend’s values of celebration, quality and community while encouraging physical activity and fitness.”

BlueCross Riverbend Challenge

Saturday, June 12

10 a.m. EDT

Coolidge Park

Riverbend Challenge could be profitable for the serious. The BlueCross Riverbend Challenge will test the physical stamina and skills of adventure seekers as they run, paddle, bike, climb and maneuver obstacles over a cumulative 23-mile course through North Chattanooga.

According to James and Donna Dravland, Challenge directors, this year’s course will include the same elements as the 2003 Challenge, with the exception of an extended bike route into Red Bank. Both individuals and co-ed teams are encouraged to compete for prizes and for the sheer adrenalin rush.

For more information on the BlueCross Riverbend Challenge or to sign up, visit www.riverbendfestival.com. Early bird registration deadline is June 2. BlueCross members can take advantage of a special $10 entry discount by visiting the BluePerks® section on www.bcbst.com.

BlueCross Riverbend Run/Fun Walk

Saturday, June 19

5K Start Time: 8 a.m. EDT

Fun Run/Walk: 8:05 a.m. EDT

BlueCross headquarters, 801 Pine Street

The seventh annual BlueCross Riverbend Run is expected to draw approximately 1,000 participants ranging in age from 4 to 90. The 5K (3.1-mile) Run will take athletes through the streets of scenic downtown Chattanooga. Prizes will be awarded in age and gender categories. In addition to the competitive run, individuals and groups can enjoy the ease of the non-competitive one-mile Fun Walk.

George Skonberg directs this year’s run, which is a Chattanooga Track Club event.

Early-bird registration can be completed now through June 18 at the BlueCross Riverbend Run tent, located at the Riverbend Festival site. For more information on BlueCross Riverbend Run/Fun Walk or to sign up, visit www.riverbendfestival.com.

About Friends of the Festival

Friends of the Festival, Incorporated, is a non-profit organization that produces The Riverbend Festival, one of the top twenty festivals in the Southeast. The Riverbend Festival is a fabulous nine-day, family-oriented event filled with music, entertainment and food. The event is held in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.