July 3, 2103, was the second running of the Stars and Stripes 5K at the Liberty Bowl/Tiger Lane here in Memphis, TN. The race was on my mother-in-law’s birthday, so I went to dinner with everyone at a new place in Midtown called Chiwawa prior to my race. It is a Mexican influenced hot dog restaurant. I did not order dinner, but I did try a couple bites of the chicken and shrimp tacos, as well as their guacamole. And since I did not eat there, I will not give a full review of the place, but I will say the rest of the family were not overly impressed by their food. Now, back to the race!
I was really happy that the temperature was at 84 when the race began and a little overcast, which is much better than the norm in early July in Memphis. 1,554 participants were registered for this event and 1,399 of them, including me, finished the race. Since the race was at the tailgate area and football stadium for the Memphis Tigers, crowd management and parking were no issues whatsoever. This may have been the easiest race parking that I have ever encountered in my brief running career.
I experienced a couple of firsts in this race. One was this is the first time I have ever battled a train during a race. Memphis is a town bisected by a train, and they seem to run every ten minutes, especially when you are running late. Well, the race must not of had the pull to delay the train schedule because within five minutes of the race beginning, here came a train barreling down the tracks. I was able to avoid the train and the wait that followed, but in my estimation, about 2/3 of the group had to wait. I am certain that there are several upset people over the train situation, and I am certain that next year’s race will address this issue. The other first I encountered was the traffic cops stopping race participants so traffic could pass through. And it was not after forty minutes towards the beginning of the course. It was rather the last half mile of the race after twenty minutes! A Coca-Cola truck almost took out the enter lead pack of the race! The driver had to make his delivery to Dollar General I suppose.
My time was almost exactly what it was for the Gibson 5K, so at least I am consistent. I am not back to my pace prior to my injury, but I am making some steady improvements. I finished in the top 50 for my age group, and finished 16th overall in the entire M-Town Series! I can’t help but think that if I would have avoided my shoe lace and crowd management issues during Zoom Through the Zoo, I would have finished even higher! Avoiding the train probably helped me a little bit as well.
Swag: C: All you got for this race was a shirt and a bib, but at least it was a tech shirt. Also, the food was as American as you could get, burgers, hot dogs, and watermelon! The water station was right past the finish line, and despite advertising for it, I did not see where the beer tents were located.
Course: B-: I liked the course a lot, but with the train and traffic mishaps, I had to drop the score. The course was a rectangle up Southern to Cooper to Central and back to Tiger Lane, which really is a nice course. Some hills, but nothing monstrous and plenty of space for runners of all speeds.
Overall: C+: Besides dodging trains and semi trucks, and the complete lack of goodie bags, this was a fun race, and it has great potential in the upcoming years.