Monday, December 12, 2022

Magnolia Half Marathon race report

I chose the Magnolia Half Marathon for my Mississippi race based simply on timing. A week after the Summit2Summit Half in Arkansas, the day before the Magic City Half in Alabama. But in the end it was a good choice -- a sweet little small-town race with thoughtful touches that prove the Race Director is herself a runner. 

On the Friday afternoon we dropped in to Threefoot Brewing to pick up our race packets. Swag included a nice shirt, a decent reusable bag, and the offer of a previous year race shirt for free. (We politely declined...never wear a shirt for a race you didn't run!)
On a verrrry cold morning we gathered at the start with the small group of runners. They had an announcer talking about past winners -- plus there were two runners who had participated in all 10 of the races over the years; they were given free entries to the race for life. That's a nice touch. Recognizing your repeat runners is a great way to build a loyal following!

The fire department were there with a great big flag (a small-town classic!). In the background you can see our hotel, the Threefoot Meridian, so you can see how close were were staying to the start!

A little before 7, following the national anthem an a prayer (ahh, the south...), we gathered in the starting chute. 

The course was really, REALLY well marked with these amazing signs. Branded in all 4 corners, they could be turned whatever direction the arrow needed to go. I love a race that doesn't assume you've memorized the course, and shows that sometimes you just go straight at an intersection. 

We started off with a little loop around downtown -- first through a long underpass beneath the railroad tracks, then a few blocks, and then a soaring bridge back across them into downtown. You can see how big the railroads are here!

We then ran out to an area of handsome older homes, past a golf club, and then a loooooooooong straight shot back into downtown. While we were headed back into town we passed a few other runners, including a woman who was running her first ever half. "Everything hurts!" she said as we passed her. We told her she was doing great, and that we were within 5K of the finish. "5K...ok...I can do that."

Though I didn't take a lot of pictures, I did snap this of a new Jimmie Rodgers mural. 

The race finished with one more little loop -- down the underpass, back over the bridge, and then done. 

At the end we got a nice little shout-out -- at packet pick up we were asked to write a little note about why we were running, etc. Of course, by the time we finished there weren't many half marathoners still out on the course! But it was nice to get a "Here's Sunny Delaney from Seattle, Washington, who has just finished her 40th state!" regardless. 

The course itself was varied if not particularly interesting. But when we came to water stops they were staffed with enthusiastic volunteers and well stocked, too. And, again, the course marking was excellent with dozens and dozens of those very clear arrow signs. 

Once across the finish line we were given our handsome, handmade medal:

We spent the last mile or so with a woman who had run the race several times before, who told us all about the medals. They're made from magnolia wood from fallen or cut trees (they even have a note on their website asking locals to contact them if they have a tree fall). The RD's father makes each medal; the shape reflects that year's race. So as this was the 10th running, it was a 10-sided medal. Then each one has the logo burned into it, and it's hung on a handsome custom ribbon. (There's a nice collection of photos on the Magnolia Marathon website.)

Medals around our necks, we grabbed a slice of pizza and then headed back to the hotel -- we only had an hour to get showered and changed and on the road to our next location. Farewell, Meridian!

Magnolia Half Marathon
14:34 pace

And, of course, STATE #40!

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