I decided to use this race as a supported training run for my build up for the Berlin Marathon later this month.
Even without Berlin I would have found a reason to do this race. The t-shirt and medal are too good to pass up!
The race motto is “Trample the Weak Hurdle the Dead”.
What’s not to love about that?!
Recap of The Tupelo Half Marathon
The Tupelo Running Club has done a great job brining together a tribe of runners crazy enough to run in the Mississippi heat. The last time I did this event was when I ran the full in 2014.
Packet pick-up was on Saturday at the Trails and Treads running/cycling store. It is here that runners get their gnarly Tupelo Marathon shirt with tie-dye sleeves. Hashtag best race shirt ever!
The race starts at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday. The unusually early start is to avoid the heat but it was still 72 degrees when I left the hotel. I barely got any sleep knowing that I had to get up so early, my mind never settled down. I’ve come to expect this the night before a race.
The new course starts at the BancorpSouth Arena in downtown Tupelo. Parking was easy and the bathrooms were plentiful inside.
The first mile of the course takes runners down Main Street past the Tupelo Hardware Store when Evil’s mother bought him his first guitar.
We passed the iconic neon glowing Tupelo sign before a short jaunt down N. Gloster St. which would be busy if it were not for the wee hours of the day.
The course then wove through residential neighborhoods where we seemed to stay for the bulk of the mileage. We ran by some spectacular houses in well-to-do neighborhoods with some hills but nothing too steep. The course was not closed to traffic though there were not many cars to deal with. The police did a great job of blocking intersections ahead of the runners.
The first couple hours of this race is completed before the sun comes up but there are plenty of street lights so no flashlights were necessary. The aid stations were frequent and had water and Gatorade; some even had cold towels and ice!
The Finish Line
The course finishes up at the BancorpSouth Arena where it started. The full marathoners are sent back out for another loop, I admit that I did not envy them!
I was directed through a corridor and emerged in the arena where I crossed the final timing mat and heard the race announcer call out my name. No matter how many races I’ve done it still feels awesome to cross the finish line.
Every finisher gets a gnarly race medal. The half marathon medal is literally half of the full medal . . . if that makes sense.
I got to see MTA Member Emily K. from Memphis and her husband Even at the finish line. I also saw fellow MTA’er Phil M. out on the course.
My Extra Seven Miles
After I finished I grabbed some water, visited the bathroom, and then headed out for seven more miles since my training plan called for 20 that day.
The additional seven miles were a suffer fest. I ran out to an industrial section of town and felt the effects of the heat majorly slowing me down. I did a lot of walking and the miles seemed to crawl by. The food, beer, and air-conditioning back at the arena beckoned me.
After about 3 miles I happened upon a park where I was able to refill my water bottle. There was shade . . . and benches . . . though I dare not sit down.
“There will be no sitting at the Berlin Marathon!” I kept telling myself.
“No leaning on trees either!”
In a strange way I welcomed the misery. I figured that the worse it got the better prepared I would be for Berlin. Marathons always involve suffering so use your tough training runs to get ready (mentally) for it. There is magic in the misery as they say.
It was a good idea to incorporate this half marathon into my 20 miler and use it as a “supported training run” as Angie calls it. I’m glad I went down to Tupelo and did some things that don’t come easy for me -like getting up early, running in the heat and resisting park benches.
I definitely recommend the Tupelo Marathon for anyone looking for a fun and challenging September race in the deep south. For a bite to eat check out Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen or The Neon Pig (owned by the same people) it will knock your socks off. Mississippi knows food!