It is amazing that despite how brutal of a summer that we have been having that an evening race in July was bearable, but that was the case for the 2015 Stars and Stripes 5K held at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and Tiger Lane here in Memphis, TN. Originally I was not going to participate in this race, but we had a friend, Abby, coming in from out-of-town and she wanted to run in it, so I decided to as well. I ran in this race two years ago, and while I thought it was a fine race, there was a train that ran through the middle of the course, causing several runners to have to wait out the train, destroying their pace and finishing times. Luckily the course has since been tweaked and there were no trains to contend with this year!
Abby was wanting to improve on her time and wanted me to help motivate and distract her along to course. In theory, the plan seemed solid, but in action, I discovered that I am kind of terrible at being a running coach! We started strong, actually probably too strong trying to find a nice section of the pack. During this jockeying, I lost Abby. I tried to slow down or stop a couple of times to wait for her, but with over 1,600, the crowd was too big for any recon, so I just forged ahead. I finished the race, informed Susan and Abby’s mom of our separation, and then headed back onto the course to find Abby and help her finish. I found her about half a mile short of the finish and I started running with her. I tried to minimize what was left on the course and let her know how close to a victory beer she was! As the final stretch came along, I encouraged Abby to sprint to the finish, pointing out a lady a few feet ahead of us that I knew Abby could beat. I actually yelled to Abby “You can beat her!” and then took off. Not only did Abby beat our mark, she sprinted past several people to a PR by over 5 minutes! It was a great performance by her and I was happy to be a part of it! I was so happy that Abby was able to exceed her goal and feel great about it!
Swag: A: After the race, there were burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, beer, and the other staples of a July 4th celebration. There even was a fireworks show for the participants and their families! The ultra soft, cotton shirt was so much better than a cheap, white t-shirt, and holding the event at a football stadium and tailgating venue really helped with crowd control and parking.
Course: A: Not too hilly, and they avoided the train tracks, so that is a plus. Also, with a crowd of 1,600+ runners, the majority of the course was able to accommodate us, even though I was scolded for running outside of the cones during one of the turns!
Overall: A: All in all, this was a very fun event, and thankfully the weather cooperated with us for the run! I will return for at least a third time!