Great American River Run – Saturday, May 29.
Half #189 is in the books!
The Great American River Run in Memphis TN was the beginning of my three day trek across a few states for Memorial Weekend races!
First, let’s talk about the weather! Normally I would be talking about how hot Memphis has been for the last few years that I have run this race! Always in the 80s or 90s and humid! I look forward to this race even knowing that it is probably the hottest race I will do all year, just feeling like I am dying at the end! That’s just Memphis in May… except this year!
For May 29th, the normal high is 86 and the normal low is 66, therefore, the high temperature Saturday was cooler than the normal overnight lows!
This record low maximum temperature was due to overcast skies, breezy north winds and a cold front that came across the region during the night.
So, yes… let’s talk about the weather! At the start time it was 55 and the high for the day was 61!! Amazingly, it was perfect running weather… in May!!
Packet pick up was easily accessible with plenty of parking. The Expo was small with only a couple of vendors but it was nice to see vendors as the pandemic winds down!
New for this year, the Start Line was on Beale Street, much more convenient than the old start location which had been by the River at Tom Lee Park. The new line was much better! Staging took place in a small park on Beale called Robert Church Park.
The race had three start times for Covid Protocol… 6:15, 6:30 and 6:45am. I chose 6:15… the earlier the better! As in the past they also had a 5K but added a 10K this year.
The course went down Beale St and after a few turns, we were on Riverside Drive and then back up into downtown and out 4th Street, passing several Memphis landmarks along the way: Mud Island, The Peabody Hotel and the Blues Museum.
We also passed the Lorraine Hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and now home of the National Civil Rights Museum. After that it was out through neighborhoods and past St Jude’s Children’s Hospital, always an impressive complex!
Much like New Orleans and a few other cities, a popular attraction is the carriage rides in Memphis. Running through an industrial area, we passed the stables where many of the horses are kept.
On the final 3 mile leg you cross a bridge back into downtown and by the Bass Pro Pyramid, once the home of the Memphis NBA team, the Grizzlies Toward the end we would pass the FedEx Forum, new home of the Grizzlies.
At the bridge, which was the 10 mile mark, you were timed going up the bridge to the apex. It is a competition inside the race. Those with the fastest ascent were crowned King and Queen of the Hill and got a prize of $500 each. No… I did not win! Yes, the race had hills but mostly in the downtown section (the first few miles, and the last few.)
The race ended on Beale street with a nice after party in Handy Park. It is named for W. C. Handy, jazz and blues musician who some call the father of the Blues.
At the park, there was a tent with a choice of pulled pork sandwich, chicken sandwich or hamburger… as well as a selection of goodies like chips, cookies, fruit, donuts, peanut butter crackers…plus beer!! Everyone had a good time!
Overall, the race was well done. They had water stops about every mile that were manned by enthusiastic volunteers. Items included bottled water, Gatorade and rags in ice prepared for the usual hot weather!! But… most people just wanted a dry rag! The only negative I can really think of is that I did not think there was enough police support for traffic control. Some intersections were challenging.
I have always enjoyed this race and this year was one of the best yet. It was great seeing some Memphis friends that I don’t get to see a lot, and some friends who traveled in from across the country. If you have never been, look at this charmer!! Great race in a Great town… might even see an Elvis or two!!
Photo and Post Credit Jennifer Clark