I had such fun at this race last year that I decided to do it one more time. It has a 6 hour time limit, and I had made a promise to myself that I would no longer do races that were that strict, but I knew that the race director would allow racers to finish as long as they were close to the time limit and looked strong. Another reason to redo Tupelo was a chance to see my running friend Karen and her husband David. We had met at the Green Bay Marathon several years ago and periodically meet up to do a race together. Since they spend 6 months every year in Nashville, I flew into that city to spend the evening with them and on Saturday we all drove down to Mississippi together along the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway.
Packet pick up was at the Trails and Treads running store and we stopped there first to get our bib with chip attached and our bright pink tie-died “Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead” long-sleeved cotton tee shirt. It was a spectacular design this year, really outstanding, and I ended up buying another larger one to use as a sleep shirt. We passed the day uneventfully, checking in at the Hampton Inn and Suites near the local mall and consuming a late lunch at Chili’s. We then tried our best to get a good night’s sleep. This race starts at 5 am (to avoid most of the heat and humidity of Tupelo), so it is imperative to get up early.
I was up at 3 am to eat my usual light breakfast of coffee and bread. By 4:15, we were ready to go! The weather was great for early September; it was in the lower 70’s and there was a heavenly breeze. We were to have overcast skies (but no rain) and a breeze for most of the day, although periodically the sun would peep out from the clouds and it would get unbearably hot. This course is pure country, with dogs and chickens and roadkill (I saw 3 snakes and a baby skunk, among other things). Aid stations with water and Gatorade were positioned about every 3 miles on this out and back course. I crossed the finish line just under 6 hours (5:59:42), got a great medal, and checked off marathon/ultra number 118.
Afterwards we made a pilgrimage to Elvis Presley’s birthplace. That seemed to put the fitting final touches on this race weekend; I can truly say I have seen Tupelo now!