The 2016 St. Jude Memphis Memphis Half Marathon has been on my running bucket list ever since my friend Gerri introduced it to me (Gerri and her sister Becca attended college in Memphis) . The proceeds from the race + St. Judes Hero fundraiser go to the hospital.
The half marathon sells out quickly, so I made sure to sign up when registration opened in June. My friend Emily and her co-worker/friend Olamide also signed up for the race. Racecation, here we come!
The half marathon is held on a Saturday race, so I took Friday off from work and took an early morning flight from DCA to MEM. I love National Airport during the holidays.
I knew Gerri was flying out on Friday, but did not know her flight plans. To my surprise, Gerri and her now fiancee were on the same flight as me! It was fun catching up.
The flight was an easy peasy 2.5 hours long. I forgot Memphis was in the southwest portion of the state. When we landed, I learned Olamide was also on the same flight. We waited for Emily to arrive and called an Uber to take us to our hotel.
We checked in the Westin Memphis Beale Street and were upgraded to a suite. It was so spacious! After dropping off our bags, we walked to over to Central BBQ, where we got to taste Memphis style BBQ (more on that later).
Packet Pickup was held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. There were tons of signs and volunteers that directed us to the Expo.
It was so spacious and I did not have to wait in line to get my bib.
We received these clear spike bags for our bib, shirts, and all things paper. I liked that everything was St. Jude branded.
The mile markers were also on display at the Expo. I loved that they incorporated the children’s artwork onto the signs.
I loved the long sleeved technical shirts – they even had thumbholes! I think I will actually wear this shirt vs. use it as a throwaway. There were tons of St. Jude freebies and swag (ex. cowbells, tattoos, balloon noisemakers) and a good amount of vendors.
Around Town – Pre Race
Rewinding a little bit to Central BBQ. My friend Gerri and our Uber driver recommended Central for their BBQ. Memphis-style BBQ is slow cooked in a pit and ribs can be prepared dry or wet. It did not disappoint.
I ordered the pulled pork which came with two sides. I chose the mac and cheese and baked beans, of course!
I had the most AMAZING dessert. The best banana pudding I’ve ever had.
After a quick nap at the hotel, we made our way to Overton Square for a pre-race dinner at Boscos Squared with some of the Oiselle ladies.
It was great to finally meet Cecilia and the Oiselle Tennessee group. I even got to see catch up with Crescent, who I met at Southern Bird Camp in October. She was in Memphis to run her first marathon!
A quick picture after dinner 🙂
How appropriate – birds!
Overton Square was really cute. There were shops, restaurants and a photo booth?!
The girls said we should check out the Amurica Photobooth, it was alot of fun. For $15 we received three prints and a digital copy of our photo. I bet they get tons of business during the late hours of the evening.
We stopped by Beale Street to catch all the lights. It reminded me of Sixth Street in Austin, Texas.
Loved all the signs.
Of course there was an Irish bar.
Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)
I did not have any formal race goals for this race since this was my first half since my foot injury. I wanted to run/walk as much as I can, but take it easy if I needed to.
St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon Race Recap
The full and half marathon started at 7:55AM near the famous Peabody Hotel. The course took us through downtown Memphis, historic Beale Street, the St. Judes campus, Overton Square (where we had dinner the night before) and back to Autozone Park.
It wasn’t too cold out, but it was raining. I decided on my wazzie wool shirts, aero capris, and lux glovers. Made sure I put on my I Love St. Jude tattoo.
We walked to Autozone Park and where I met the Oiselle ladies for a pre-race photo. Then Emily, Olamide and I met Gerri and Becca at the Peabody Hotel before the race. There were long lines for the Peabody bathrooms, so I used the porta potties outside.
We made our way to our corrals and got stuck behind a few hundred runners and spectators (the gate opening was too small). Once the race started, we slowly crept into our corrals. Emily and Olamide started running, and I waited for my corral to reach the starting line.
I enjoyed running through Beale Street. It looked so different during daylight.
This was one of my favorite parts of the half, running towards the water.
I saw this cool knitting of the St. Jude logo on a fence.
We passed by the Great Pyramid, which was once home to the University of Memphis basketball team, concerts and other large events. It is now a Bass Pro Shop.
Next we ran through the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Gerri told me she usually gets choked up during this portion of the race. She told me some of the patients and their families will cheer outside or from their rooms. It was a bit chilly that morning, so I did not see any of the kids outside. There were loads of spectators cheering us on.
We ran through some really cute neighborhoods. I loved that this family was using their fire pit.
Can you guess one of the sponsors of this race? Fedex is one of the major employers in the area, so they had two cheer stations along the course. My knee started to hurt after this picture, so I decided to walk the rest of the half.
I saw several cool murals. The Memphis skyline.
We ❤️ Memphis!
The famous Sun Studio. Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded at their original location.
A now vacant Wonder Bread factory, which was right before the finish line in Autozone Park.
All done! It was fun that the finish line was inside the park. We were handed our medal, heatsheet and directed to the concourse. The post race food was impressive – there were doughnuts and pizza. I skipped the latter because the lines were pretty long.
One of my favorite medals. It is a spinner too.
We stopped by the Gibson Guitar Factor, which was across the street from our hotel. They offered tours, but we did not partake.
The Peabody Hotel is known for their Duck March everyday at 11:00AM and 5:00PM. At 11:00AM the ducks are led from the elevator to the fountain, and at 5:00PM the ducks are led from the fountain back to the elevator. All the primo spots were already taken when we arrived at 4:30PM. Womp. The picture is a little blurry, but the ducks are on the red staircase.
There was also a holiday Gingerbread House display.
The next day, Emily and I visited the National Civil Rights Museum before our flight.
The museum was built around the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. There is a $15 entrance fee, but it was well worth the price. The exhibits were excellent and I wish we had more time to explore.
- Proceeds go to a great cause!
- There is a race fore everybody – Kids Run, 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon
- The half marathon sells out quickly, so make sure you sign up early.
- Speaking of sells out, the hotel blocks also sell out quickly. Runners love coming back and book early.
- The half marathon course limit is 4 hours 20 minutes (approximately 20 min/mile), which is walker friendly.
- There are some hills, but not too bad.
- Well organized and executed.
- Loved the race swag – the shirt and medal were awesome.
- BBQ and BBQ!
- The Memphis Grizzlies play downtown if you like to mix running and basketball.
- Plenty to see and do for a short weekend – Peabody Hotel, Beale Street, National Civil Rights Museum.
I would love to come back and actually race this half one day. I highly recommend adding the St. Jude Marathon weekend to your race bucket list.
Have you ever run the St. Jude Marathon/Half Marathon/10K or 5K?
Have you ever visited Memphis?