New St. Jude Marathon Weekend Race

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2016 marks the 15th year of the St. Jude Marathon Weekend, and with it, St. Jude is introducing a new race distance! In years past, have you felt that the 5K was not challenging enough, yet the idea of the half marathon or marathon was still too daunting? Well, this year, you are in luck! St. Jude has decided to provide potential race participants with the option of running a 10K for the kids! I will still be either running the half or the full marathon, but I am excited that even more people can participate in this wonderful race weekend. More info can be found here.

Music Highway Medal

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Music Highway Medal

First off, my race recap for the Mercedes Half Marathon should be posted on Monday morning. It has been a hectic week, and I just have not done it yet. In the meantime, I wanted to share with all of y’all the Music Highway medal that I received this week for running the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville and St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis as a St.. Jude Hero.

Run Run Rudolph Race Recap

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Saturday was the First Annual Run Run Rudolph 5K and Dasher Dash benefiting Rivercrest Elementary School in Bartlett, TN. As you probably know, Susan was the race director for this event, and I assisted her some in the planning and execution of the event, so I might not be 100% impartial in my review of the event.

Run Run Rudolph 2014 Race Logo

Run Run Rudolph 2014 Race Logo

The event was held at the school, and from everyone that I spoke with, it seemed to be a huge success. We exceeded our goal for participants, and ended up with 429 participants in the various race categories. The race categories were a 5K, 400 meter dash for the kids, and spirit runners. There was also a Christmas costume contest for adults and children, with the adult winner taking home a Keurig 2.0 brewer! The children’s prize was an Olaf Snuggie. Santa Claus also made an appearance at the event, and he was one of the biggest cheerleaders at the finish line.

The weather mostly cooperated for the event. Memphis in December can be unpredictable, with temps ranging from the teens to the seventies over the past three years. The temperature for the race was in the high forties, low fifties, with cloudy skies, and it felt colder than the thermometer read. But there was no rain and the wind was not really a factor, so it was still enjoyable running weather.

My bib and shirt from the event. The Dasher Dash bib was green.

My bib and shirt from the event. The Dasher Dash bib was green.

All registered participants were entitled to red, long-sleeved cotton tees with the race logo in the front. The shirts were a huge success, and we got nothing but positive feedback from them. In fact, one of the runners told us after the event that she runs in races basically every weekend, and that most of her shirts get donated, but she will be keeping this one. We certainly appreciated the love from the other runners, and I must agree that Start 2 Finish and Bluff City Sports did a great job with the logo and shirt. The debate now is whether we recycle the logo next year or change it as well as what color shirt will be best. The Dasher Dash kids also received medals upon completion, and every one of them seemed to think that the won the Boston Marathon. It was a lot of fun to watch.

A sincere thank you to all of our sponsors!

A sincere thank you to all of our sponsors!

Despite being crunched for time, we were still able to secure a number of great sponsors for the event. One of the sponsors was Keurig, which was a huge hit with the runners. We had three Keurig 2.0 brewers pumping out various flavors of drinks provided by Keurig for the entire morning. We had various coffees, teas, ciders, and cocoas, the beverages fit with the theme seamlessly. Also, the Keurig 2.0 brewer that was awarded to the costume contest winner led to some intense competition for the award. Susan’s personal favorite was a Caramel Apple Cider from Green Mountain Coffee. The Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate was also very popular.

And we are off!

And we are off!

For the race itself, the course was ran through the school neighborhood, starting and finishing in the bus lane at the school. The bus lane was an ideal fit for the stop and finish, even if it was a small incline for the finish. The rest of the course was run on city streets, and since it was run though the school’s neighborhood, there were families cheering along the course.

3rd Place AG Award

3rd Place AG Award

The finisher awards for the event were clear Christmas ornaments with the race logo in the center. We did red glitter for first, green for second, and silver for third place finishes in each age group. A mix of all three was used for the overall and master’s winners. The ornaments were assembled by Susan and I one evening (with mine being a little heavy-handed on the glitter, oops), and I am happy that I was able to earn one for our tree at the house.

My run, while not my fastest 5K ever, or even of the fall, but I did run well, and was able to place third in my age group! This is my third age group finish of the year, and I am obviously proud of that.

Overall, the event was a lot of fun, and everyone I saw seemed to enjoy themselves. The kids had a good time, and the race was a great representation of Rivercrest. I hope that everyone else that was there on Saturday feels as positive about the event as I do. And thank you to each person that supported us in this event!

We have also launched a Facebook page for the event, so you can like it here. You can check out more race photos over there.

Run Run Rudolph 5K

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Introducing the first annual Run Run Rudolph 5K to take place in Bartlett, TN on December 13, 2014. The race is being hosted by Rivercrest Elementary School and will be managed by Start 2 Finish Events. All proceeds from the event are being applied to upgrading the classrooms at Rivercrest with smart boards to create a higher level of interactive learning for the students!

Run Run Rudolph 2014 Race Logo

Run Run Rudolph 2014 Race Logo

This event will also have Dasher’s 400 Meter Dash for children under 9, along with a holiday costume contest, and age group awards with some holiday flair!

Registration is now open and only costs $20 for all events! If you cannot run that day, but would still like to participate, there is also a Christmas Spirit category that will still land you one of our awesome long-sleeved cotton race tees!

Country Music Half Marathon Recap

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This post is a little delayed, but I have been piecing it together since the event on April 26 as I take breaks from my final papers.  I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this semester and will get back to a normal running/workout/blogging schedule.

Start line pic taken from the CMM Facebook page

Start line pic taken from the CMM Facebook page

I arrived to the expo on Friday around noon and it was a madhouse.  There was very little parking near the expo and the ones that were available would price gouging runners.  Therefore, Susan dropped me off and made the block while I grabbed my registration stuff.  The expo was well-organized, it was just a large mass of people in a small space.  There were several vendors in attendance and if Susan was not waiting on me, I could have spent some time wandering around the various booths.

Country Music Half Medal

On race day, it was advertised that you needed to get to LP Field by 5:30 am or there would be no free parking available.  We got there at 6:00 am and had no problem getting a spot, but the issue was traffic, as any trip to Nashville involves.  I went the long way to LP Field and missed the vast majority of the traffic, so that did help.  Parking was 1/2 a mile or so from the start line, so runners could get a little bit of a warm up before getting to the corrals.  The lack of porta-potties was noticeable on my walk to the corral.  The few that I did see had insanely long lines.  Around corral 14 there were several porta-potties, but by that point most people had fought the crowds.

Prior to the race, all I heard about the event was how hilly it was and that the weather could be quite unpredictable.  Whereas the course was hilly, especially on mile 12, that was not the most notable feature of the course to me.  The most notable feature was the amount of runners on the entire course.  There were over 19,000 finishers for the half marathon alone!  This is the first race that I have run in that had a crowd for all 13.1 miles.

This was before my walk to the start, minus my Grizz headband

This was before my walk to the start, minus my Grizz headband

I did a fairly decent job of watching my pace early in the race, balancing the hills, sun, and crowds.  In fact, it was not until mile 11 that I really started to feel the effects of the course.  And at that point, I had not fueled besides my water and Gatorade stops, so I just sucked it up and gave it my best attempt to finish.  There is a modest hill at mile 12 that felt like a mountain to me, and my splits reflect that.  I did feel good as I crossed the finish line, and felt that it was a great race overall.

Course: B: It was hilly, but not overwhelmingly so. There were bands throughout the course and quite a bit of crowd support.  Water stops were frequent and there was GU at mile 11, which is where the marathon and half marathon split up.  The finish line, however, was a huge cluster.  It felt like runners were being herded like cattle from receiving our medals to the various refueling options, around the corner to the beer tents.  Honestly, the process would have probably worked better if the race could have use the facilities inside LP Field, not just around it.

And for those of you that frequent The Chive like I do, the water station around mile 7 was sponsored by Nashville area Chivers.  It was great to see all those green and BFM shirts.

Race swag

Race swag

Swag: A: A nice looking tech shirt and two medals!  One medal was for completing the race and one was for being a St. Jude Hero.  The bonus medal was not from St. Jude, but rather the fundraising medal given to everyone running in a Rock ‘N Roll event for charity.  The 2014 Country Music Half Marathon medal and race shirt were MUCH better than years past, especially the 2012 medal and 2010 shirt.

Rock 'N Roll charity medal that I received for being a St. Jude Hero

Rock ‘N Roll charity medal that I received for being a St. Jude Hero

Overall: A-:  Fun race with tons of support and upgraded swag.  Weather in late April in the south can be quite unpredictable, but this year we really dodged a bullet.  It was almost a perfect day for running, and I finished as the heat began to set in.  I would certainly run in this race again.

The Race That Wasn’t, But Then Was Anyway

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At this point last week, 20,000+ runners were supposed to be running in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend events.  It was going to be my third consecutive year running for the kids of St. Jude, and honestly, I was aiming for another PR.  But a funny thing happened in route to race day, Mother Nature decided that December 7 was not a good day to run and dumped ice and cold upon the Memphis area.  Some may argue that the event cold have gone on as planned, but the St. Jude powers that be made the difficult decision to cancel the race for the safety of the runners, spectators, and volunteers.  Many people forget that races require more than the runners to transpire, and I cannot imagine how brutal it would have been to work an aid station for six hours in single digit temperatures.  Not to mention with the fact about ice accumulation from the discarded water cups around the stations.  St. Jude made the correct call.  It was a call that disappointed all of us, pissed off a few, baffled others, and inconvenienced most.

This was me as I was about to head out for my 13.1!

This was me as I was about to head out for my 13.1!

But a crazy and inspiring thing happened after St. Jude canceled the race.  Some of us crazy SOB’s ran the race anyway!  That’s right, all over Memphis, and even the southeast, there were courageous runners sporting their St. Jude Heroes singlets, bibs, and plenty of cold equipped running gear.  One group ran the majority of the course and even received their medals at the end since the medals were already at the finish line.  Some ran in their neighborhoods, some on treadmills, and some out of towners ran once they returned to their hometowns.  It truly was an amazing experience.

This is what the finish line for the St. Jude Marathon looked like Friday afternoon

This is what the finish line for the St. Jude Marathon looked like Friday afternoon

I am one of those people who ran the race despite it being canceled.  I logged my cold 13.1 miles for several reasons. One, the event is about the celebration and awareness of the wonderful patients at St. Jude.  We are running for those kids, therefore, despite cancellation, I ran for those kids.  Second, I was scheduled for 13.1, so I wanted to run 13.1.  Simple as that.  Three, in a weird way, I hope people seeming myself and the others running around town will inspire them to join the race next year.  To raise money for St. Jude and make the event an even bigger success.  This year, the heroes program raised a record $8.1 million for the kids of St. Jude with over 14,500 individuals competing as heroes!  Maybe next year the total can eclipse $10 million!

2013 St. Jude Marathon Weekend Medal (w/ a little ice)

2013 St. Jude Marathon Weekend Medal (w/ a little ice). Not my photo, but this was from the Commercial Appeal, found via Google Image search.

After cancellation, St. Jude handled the situation better than anyone could have imagined.  The Heroes Lounge was still open downtown for all heroes to enjoy.  St. Jude communicated every step of the way, and provided several alternatives for registered participants.  Registration fees could be donated to St. Jude, refunded, and transferred to the Rock ‘N Roll New Orleans, Phoenix, or Nashville events.  All race shirts, medals, and goodie bags that were unclaimed could be mailed to you or donated to St. Jude.  Also, all registered participants for this year’s race will have priority registration for next year’s event!  Any of these options would have appeased most, but all of them truly were above and beyond!  Of course, there were gripes and confusion about some of these details.  Some people want their race materials despite the cancellation.  Then some people cannot understand why you would want something for a race you did not run.  My argument to that logic is everyone is different, but a lot of people did run this race, organized or not, so if they want that medal, fine.  If not, I am sure a patient at St. Jude will enjoy it.

I went to the expo before cancellation, so I got my race shirt, bib & bag. Also, the singlet & other shirt were sent previously to heroes.

I went to the expo before cancellation, so I got my race shirt, bib & bag. Also, the singlet & other shirt were sent previously to heroes.

Personally, I do not know how or if to claim this race.  It obviously does not count towards my total of half marathons which is a bummer because it would have been my fourth in four months, but I will live.  I might count it as a virtual run since there was, at least at first, an infrastructure for the event and several others running with the option of a medal and race shirt I wanted them.  Also, how does this race affect my race streak?  Virtual races have counted during the streak, but what about canceled races that I ran anyway?  I made it to December and through an injury, I am not going to let a little bit of ice derail my goal for the year!  I guess I will find a local 5K or something just to cover my bases.

Also, this was the weirdest run that I have experienced in my neighborhood since people were honking, waving, and even taking my picture!  These gestures told me that I was making a wise decision running for St. Jude that day.  These people did not know me from Adam, but these saw the St. Jude logo and thought about those kids, even if it was just for a moment.  I hope that the other runners experienced the exact same sensation!

St. Jude Marathon Weekend Canceled

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This is what the finish line for the St. Jude Marathon looked like this afternoon

This is what the finish line for the St. Jude Marathon looked like this afternoon

Earlier today there was a report that the Dallas Marathon was canceled and at that point I knew that the St. Jude Marathon would also be canceled.  Honestly, this sucks, but I get it.  The 20,000+ runners put quite a bit of work into training for this event and I really feel sorry for those people whose first race was going to be tomorrow.  But us runners were not going to be the only people out there, and considerations for the spectators, race officials, and volunteers must also accounted for as well.  The wind chill tomorrow at the race start is supposed to be 7 degrees, and there is potential for dangerous road conditions for people traveling to the race.  I will say though, the weather was not nearly as bad as projected, but safety does come first.  Too bad there is not an alternate weekend that they could hold the event.  Anyway, the following is what the St. Jude Marathon website has to say about the cancellation:

2013 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend canceled
updated December 6, 6:34 p.m.

The safety of race participants, volunteers and spectators is and always has been our top priority. After careful consideration with race officials, City of Memphis and Office of Emergency Management officials, and the Memphis Police Department, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel this year’s St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend due to weather conditions. As a result, we are providing registered participants in the 2013 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend races with multiple options to accommodate this unfortunate turn of events. Participants may choose from one of the following options:

Finally, registered participants in the 2013 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend will have the first opportunity to sign up for the 2014 event during a special registration window to be announced later. In the very near future we will communicate to 2013 participants in more detail. We want to express our deepest thanks to all of the participants, volunteers and spectators who have long trained, worked and traveled to support the patients and families of St. Jude through this amazing annual event. We hope everyone will come back to support the 2014 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. The money raised at events like the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend are critical to our ability treat kids with cancer and ensure no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.

This is very disappointing news, but it was probably the correct call.  This race is, after all, for the kids, and the money raised goes to a great cause.  I am proud of the $734.77 that I raised for St. Jude as a Hero and I cannot wait until next year’s event!  Maybe I will take them up on their offer to transfer my registration to the Country Music Half Marathon.