On Saturday, I participated in the Elvis Presley 5K for the first time despite being an active runner in the Memphis area for the past few years. I know some people are obsessed with Elvis and his music. I am not. I like several of his songs (especially In the Ghetto and Kentucky Rain), and I get how big of a talent he was, but some people can be a bit over the top with it. I have actually never visited Graceland, and the race on Saturday morning was just the third time that I had even been by the mansion.
This year I decided to tryout the race, if for no other reason but to see if the race is worth adding to my calendar annually. When I registered I did not realize that the race date, August 16, coincided with Elvis’ death back in 1977, but being that the race is a fundraiser for a nonprofit that Elvis himself supported, Live It Up, Inc., the event seemed to be a good way to celebrate Elvis. And this race also is the only race from Memphis to make The Runner’s Bucket List: 200 Races to Run Before You Die (more on this book later this week), so I was glad to finally experience the event for myself.
I was expecting a ton of Elvis fanatics and very few serious runners. I was only half right. There were several Elvis fanatics there, but this was a large and very competitive race. The race ended up with over 1100 finishers, so this was one of the bigger 5K’s in town.
The weather, while in the 80’s, was not unbearable, and the humidity was only 76% at the race start. In some parts of the country, this would be horrid running conditions, but in August in Memphis, this could qualify for winter running! I never felt like I was going to overheat during this race, and if it was not for my shoe coming untied twice during the race, I would have finished with a stronger time.
Course: B+: You start and finish at the gates of Graceland, which is very cool. The rest of the course is run through residential neighborhoods, which does not provide much scenery. But several of the residents do cheer you on, and there were multiple residents with sprinklers and water hoses going for runners to cool off with. The area around Graceland can be sketchy, but the neighborhood we ran through was very inviting. There were a couple of modest hills, and after a congested start, the course opened up.
Swag: A: Awesome medal! Yes, this is a 5K with a medal. Some years, the medal is not that great, but this year they hit it out of the park. It was a replica of Elvis’ TCB logo, and it is awesome. The t-shirt falls more on the ugly side of things, but for the diehard Elvis fans, I am sure that they love it. There was nothing else in the race bag, but the post race food spread was great. There was plenty of beer, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, pasta, wraps, and fruit.
Overall: A: There was great race support with the event and anytime a 5K produces a good-looking medal is a plus. I had fun at the event and would definitely consider running the race again. The race started at 8:00 am, which worried me because of the possibility of it being really hot, but the race was not hindered too much by it.