For my first recap, let me start with the race that is freshest on my mind. The Memphis Health and Fitness Broad Ave 5k has been one of my favorites since moving to Memphis. This year, the race was held on June 26th, a Friday night. Proceeds of the race benefited the Carpenter Art Garden, an organization in Binghamton where inner-city children creatively tend to a garden in their community. Please check out Carpenter Art Garden for more details.
I try to research as much as possible before signing up for a race Yes, the basic information such as the course, price, location, and beneficiary are all very important. However, I am admittedly at times a shallow road racer and often also look for great t-shirts, desirable awards, and (of course) killer after parties. For me, The Broad Ave 5k met all of the above stated criteria.
I signed up after seeing an ad for it in the Memphis Health and Fitness Magazine, which I read religiously. In this ad, some key words that grabbed my attention were “beer,” “Wise Acre,” “after party,” and “trucker hats.” Hook, line, and sinker… I’m not too hard to please.
It was a hotter than Hades kind of night, but luckily it rained about an hour beforehand and cooled things off a little before the start. All of the participants gathered in the Water Tower Pavilion across from Bounty, which was already showing promising signs of beer tents, food, and entertainment.
Can I pause for a minute and say how genius it was to have it at this location? First of all, Broad Avenue in general is a great atmosphere and the Water Tower Pavilion is a great representation of the spirit of the area. It was just the kind of race that Memphis has needed more of. It had more to offer than the everyday, mundane local 5k but wasn’t obnoxious like the “Glo/Color” runs. The feel reminded me a lot of the Cooper Young 4-miler, which is also a Friday night race and a favorite among Memphians.
Okay, now time to get down to the actual race. The course, I would say, was the biggest down-fall of the event for someone who was trying to PR. There were a lot of turns and random down and backs through side streets and parking lots, but I guess it kept things interesting. At one point, we ran behind Wiseacre. This would have been great if there were fun, drunk people cheering for us as we passed; but, unfortunately, no one was there to distract us from the fact that we were running on gravel and trying to dodge potholes during a race. This limb brought us to the first mile mark which included a pretty sharp turn and a hilarious surprise from the local Wicket Ways Haunted House. This was the first time in my life that I had been handed water by a zombie and I wouldn’t be opposed to it happening again…
Mile two consisted of another sharp detour down the next side street for the first half and was graciously followed by a straight away back in the direction of the pavilion. We safely crossed over Hollywood, where police men had stopped traffic, and continued down to where the sidewalk dead ended at East Parkway. There, we found the last and sharpest turn around a cone, which directed us back across Hollywood. This then led us back to the Water Tower Pavilion for a much needed downhill finish. Each finisher received a cold towel (clutch) and a lei to start the after-party celebrations. My Garmin showed that the course was a little short by .05, which I suspected when I saw my finishing time of “19:05″… I wish!
Post-race entertainment included some crazy acrobats, raffles, and some good music from a DJ. I brought my own recovery nutrition, a turkey burger and sweet potato, but it looked like they provided sandwiches and had a food truck on the premises. Wiseacre brought Tiny Bomb, their Saison, and something else that came on a little strong for me. Of course, I still managed to have about two of each beverage (not very paleo) before the award ceremony which (PTL) was on time. Then again, they were smart and loaded me up with beer so I would have been abnormally patient anyway.
As for the awards, they were great! Overall winners got the same trucker hat as the age group winners and also received a gift card to Muddy’s Bake Shop, a 1.5 hour reservation at the Rec Room, and a darling painting made by a young artist from the Carpenter Art Garden.
Regardless of the course, the whole event was a blast. I’m sure that not everyone was going for a record, and probably could have cared less about the turns and terrain. I can’t wait for next year and definitely recommend this for any type of runner!