Saturday I took the hour drive up Interstate 40 to Jackson, TN to tackle my first of two half marathons for the weekend at the Andrew Jackson Half Marathon. This race is a smaller race, and offers a marathon, half marathon, and 5K with staggered start times for each event. There really was not an expo, just a registration and packet pickup at one of the gyms on the Union University campus.
The day did not start off great with the week-long rain still lingering for most of the morning. It was not as heavy of a rain as the rest of the week, but it just exasperated the amount of liquid along the course. It also marked my third half marathon of 2015 in which the weather was not great. This is a risk you run with spring events. We all know the possibilities, and signing up early to save some cash will limit our ability to cherry-pick races according to weather.
Being that this race was going to be my first of two half marathons for the weekend, I decided to take it easy along the course. I even violated a cardinal rule for running by trying something new on race day. Of course, my something new was not new shoes, apparel, or fueling, but rather new pacing. I decided to try incorporating a run walk ratio for the race. I assumed that using a pre-planned run walk regiment would help preserve my legs for the following day’s race, and it would help curb my instinct to push it hard, especially early in the event. The run walk ratio was a successful strategy for this event for me. I was sore after the event, but not as much so as I would have been if I would have used my same race strategy. Of course, my finish time was not spectacular, but this weekend was much more about completing the events, not a PR.
Course: B-: The word that best describes this course is boring. It was a mix of rural and residential streets with sparse crowds throughout. The volunteers were fantastic, and there were an adequate amount of water stations along the course. There were some moderate, rolling hills and the course was open to traffic. Race organizers did a great job of stopping traffic for runners to cross, but with the standing water along the course, some areas got a little tight with motorists and runners. The crowd at the finish was great and encouraging, so that certainly is a positive from the race.
Swag: B-: Tech shirt and medal constitutes the swag for this race. The post race spread consisted of bananas, orange slices, and bagels. The medal has been polarizing for the people who have seen it on my social media outlets. Personally, I like the idea they were going for, and for a presidential nerd, it is fantastic. The medal, however, looks a bit off. Susan finds the medal creepy. It looks like one of the following three things: 1) a Michael Myers mask, 2) Andrew Jackson wearing an Andrew Jackson mask, or 3) or Christopher Walken dressed as Andrew Jackson. Judge for yourself.
Overall: B-: It is a small race that is well-organized and for a great cause (raises money for the prevention of child abuse and neglect). For future events, organizers should work for a bigger post race spread. They had a dinner the night before the race, which would be great for people staying in the Jackson, TN area, but something post race would be great as well. I hope that they keep pushing the envelope with the use of Andrew Jackson. Think the Lincoln Presidential Marathon which has had medals look like pennies, $5 bills, and race shirts have shown Abe in various running situations. Have some fun with it!
I would probably run this race again being that it is so close to Memphis.