I have three papers due next week, but I am in a holding pattern with all three for various reasons so I decided to take a small diversion from them to do a quick update. This Saturday is the St. Jude Marathon and Half Marathon here in Memphis. It is the biggest running event of the year here with over 20,000 participants in the various events. It raises a significant amount of money for St. Jude and it is always a fun event. The problem is that Memphis has quite unpredictable weather, and this will certainly be reflected in the three years that I have run in this event. The average high is 58, low 38, and the mean 46, but these numbers are not often the actuality. My first event in 2011, the morning started off brutally cold, but the temperature rose quickly and was in the 60’s by the time I crossed the finish line. Last year it was warm and humid, with the temperature well into the 70’s. This year, the weather forecast is brutal. The expected high is 34, expected low 28 with wind in the 13-15 MPH range. This comes the day after the expectation of 1/4″ of ice from a winter storm. We do not see must ice and snow in Memphis, so even small amounts cripple this town. Needless to say, this week has been full crisis mode for most Memphis runners!
I heard someone on the elevator at work today say that the prediction for this weekend is a worse storm than the one in 1994. In 1994, over 6 inches of ice accumulated in the area, effectively shutting down everything for weeks. There was widespread damage, almost everyone in the regions was without power, schools were shut down for basically the entire month of February. It was a big deal and a natural disaster. Now, every time there is a projection of ice or snow, some yahoo invokes the tired, “This is going to be worse than the storm of ’94!” Only, most people say this with a little bit more of a southern drawl and worse grammar. I am going on the record and refuting this notion that this weekend will be anywhere near the level that 1994 was. It is going to be cold, there will be some ice, but 6 inches is extreme.
The good news for runners is that as of this morning, the race is still all systems go and the original forecast of freezing rain during the event has been moved to Friday morning and midday, as well as Saturday night into Sunday morning. The bad news is that is still going to be cold and windy, and there might be some ice patches along the way. Susan is already on record that if there is ice, she does not want me to run. I tend to be somewhat of a klutz and if I get hurt, she will not be happy. Especially if it jeopardizes the WDW Marathon in five weeks. The worst news for runners is that in the infinite wisdom that incorporates this town, the Memphis Tigers play a game at 12:00 pm and the Memphis Grizzlies play a game at 7:00 pm on Saturday. Both games are at the FedExForum, which happens to be in the middle of the race course. And since the race begins at 8:00 am, there is going to be some over lapping of the events. Traffic and parking are going to be a nightmare even without any ice, so fellow runners, you have been made aware.
I tend to follow MemphisWeather.net for a more accurate view of the weather than I can get from the app on my iPhone or the local stations. The guy behind the site does the weather projections for FedEx, so it is paramount that he be right. You can view his blog post about this weekend here. Also, here is the St. Jude Marathon blog post about this weekend.
UPDATE: Official word from the St. Jude Marathon Weekend is that a decision will be made by 5:00 am CST on Saturday, December 7, on whether the race is going to be canceled or not.
UPDATE #2: Apparently, there is no official statement from the powers that be at this point about any decisions about the plan for the race.