Running races with unique distances and/or themes is always tempting for me. For one, these races stand out when reflecting on other events and another reason is that your first attempt at a new distance is a guaranteed PR! Sunday was the Navy Ten Nautical Miler race at the naval base in Millington, TN, which is just north of Memphis. Ten nautical miles equals 11.5 miles, so the race was just short of being a half marathon, but still significantly longer than a 10K.
At first, I wished the distance was a bit longer so it would count in my Half Fanatics stats, but after the opening remarks for the race, the distance of 10 nautical miles is clearly not an arbitrary distance. Rather, it has some significance from the Battle of Midway. The Battle of Midway was a major victory for the US Navy in WWII, and marked the first naval defeat in almost 100 years for the Japanese Navy. The battle was between June 4 and June 7, 1942. And since the battle was in early June, the race is likewise held in early June, despite the heat and humidity this time of year in Memphis. As was stated at the event, if the US Navy had won the battle in October, the race would be in October. Thinking about the race in the context of naval history gives it new perspective.
The race organizers did an excellent job of organizing the event, from the race expo to sponsors to race day management, everything seemed to go smoothly. I honestly did not know what to expect from the race, but they certainly know what they are doing.
As I prepared for the race, I was very concerned with the heat and humidity that I would have to endure. Especially after the West Tennessee Warrior Run two weeks ago and the brutal temperatures throughout the prior week. And then, there were several thunderstorms over the weekend, so the chances of terrible weather seemed like a certainty for the event. Luckily, we dodged a major bullet with the weather. The temperature started at 70 and was only 75 when I crossed the finish line! And throughout the course, the humidity decreased from 100% to 86%, and the dew point dropped 6 degrees as well! This, coupled with the fact that the sun remained behind the clouds for the majority of the morning, led to a much more pleasant run than expected.
About halfway through the race, another runner approached me and asked if I had run in the Germantown Half Marathon. After I affirmed that I had, he told me that he thought it was me, and that I was running much better at this race than that one. He went on to tell me to keep at it and we parted ways. I ended up finishing the race ahead of him and while refueling he approached me another time to congratulate me on a strong run and reaffirm the improvement that I had made since March. It was a nice gesture, I thought, and I certainly ran a much stronger race here than in Germantown. In fact, if this race was the 1.6 miles longer, I would have finished within a couple of minutes of a PR! I guess my runs in the extreme humidity the last couple of weeks really helped!
Swag: A+: This race provided one of the better goody bags that I have ever received. All runners received a good-looking tech shirt, hot/cold race logo pack, financial book, race decal, KT Tape sample, race logo plastic cup, as well as some other promotional items and race literature. Finishers received a fantastic finisher medal that was a heavy-duty anchor on a navy and gold cord. It is an awesome finisher’s medal and certainly stands out on my wall.
Course: B+: Mostly flat course with some rolling hills that serpentines through the naval base and a brief stretch of country road. There were water stops at each nautical mile and good crowd support along the way. From the guys handing out cold beer at nautical mile six and the kids with Super Soakers spraying runners right before nautical mile 7, the spectators helped make the race even better. Also, all the yells for my new Green Lantern tech shirt were appreciated. The only downside was that the course between nautical miles 7.5 and 9 incorporated a track around the barracks/family living units on base. It was a boring stretch of the course.
Overall: A: Great race, with lots of support and excellent swag. I love that there is a reason why they host the event and amount of support from the community as well as the naval sailors and officers. This is a must run the race for those in the Memphis area, and it will certainly be one that I return to in the future. And I am certain that next the weather will be brutal, but I am still looking forward to getting another anchor medal!