2018 allowed me to develop a robust running program as part of my Walk into the Future. I set an aggressive (for me) goal to increase the number of Half Marathons I would run in 2018. This newfound aggressive scheduling allowed me to travel to multiple locations and experience 13.1-mile courses in fun and culturally significant places.
Running a race allows you to experience a location in a more intimate manner than simply driving around. Running provides opportunities to fully engage the city since you don’t have to worry about cars, traffic or obeying signs. The course gives you the freedom to look around, admire architecture or even stop to take a picture of landmarks. My goal is to run as fast as possible, but 13.1 miles provides a lot of sightseeing time.
New Orleans, LA. (March 2018)
My first 2018 race was the Humana Rock ‘N’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon. I’ve been to New Orleans multiple times, but this was my first time running a race in the city. Running friends identified this as a fun race and a fast course since New Orleans is relatively flat. The race and the course really lived up to the prerace hype. Everything about New Orleans is festive and the course sponsors, volunteers and cheering crowd made sure all runners enjoyed their time in New Orleans. New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras and having a good time. A lot of runners use this race as an extended opportunity to get dressed up in costume. You see all sorts of outfits for this race and beads are everywhere.
The race starts downtown and winds throughout the city. We spent a lot of time on tree lined St. Charles Avenue. Residents, business owners, spectators and brass bands lined the street to cheer runners. There are a few ‘beer stands’ available even though it’s 7:30 am—of course you have to get a beer in New Orleans. The rest of the race winds through the Garden District, the French Quarter and finishes at the Fairgrounds. The race after party is held at the Fairgrounds with music, food, beer, snacks and hanging out with runners from around the world.
New Orleans is a great city and I’m happy to have experienced it as a runner. Got to see the city from different angles and have a deeper appreciation for the culture there.
Recommend visiting River Walk New Orleans (shopping), Mulate’s (Cajun Restaurant) and Bourbon Street (music) while in New Orleans.
Nashville, TN. (April 2018)
Nashville is one of my favorite places to visit because I love live music and some of the best music is generated there. The St. Jude Rock ‘N’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon is one of the largest races in the series. The Nashville entertainment draws a lot of runners from around the world to ‘Nash Vegas’. The food, music and shopping in Nashville provides a convenient backdrop for runners to meet up and enjoy the city.
A real treat for runners during this race is a different musical act EVERY mile. Most of the acts are local talent (singers, musicians, bands) who are all very good. The course starts downtown Nashville and winds through college campuses and residential neighborhoods before ending at Nissan Stadium. A unique feature happens right at mile marker #6.
Mile marker #6 is the entrance to the Westgrove neighborhood. The unique and special feature of this part of the running course is the people who live in the neighborhood provide the entertainment to include sound stage, costumes and refreshments. The entire neighborhood gets involved during the race and they have FUN. My first encounter with this neighborhood came in my first Nashville Half Marathon in 2017. I stopped running to soak in the entertainment and the energy from the people there. Truly amazing experience to see so many people want to help entertain and energize runners. This is my favorite spot on the Nashville course every time I run there. I didn’t stop in 2018 since I’m use to the experience now.
Running in downtown Nashville is a true treat! The history, entertainment and music venues there make for a unique visual experience. I always discover new things to view every time I run the city.
Recommend visiting the Wild Horse Saloon (food, live music, line dancing), Crazy Town (live music), Tequila Cowboy (live music, food, cold beer), Jack’s BBQ, Opryland USA and The Hermitage (Museum). There’s a lot more there, Nashville is a great place to Walk into the Future.
Boston, GA. (October 2018)
The Boston Mini-Marathon is a local race the town of Boston, Georgia uses to invite people to visit over the weekend. Festivities include the Mini-Marathon (Half), Parade, Ms. Boston pageant, a Boston Butt BBQ competition and local vendors.
This race had the smallest number of runners for my 4 races but was the friendliest place I’ve ever run. Everyone in town seemed to enjoy the event and the runners who descended on their town. The course was very flat and with the cool October weather provided an opportunity to run fast. I signed up for this one as a ‘training’ run but ran my fastest half marathon ever. Believe the cool weather and flat course were instrumental to my fast (for me) time.
Amelia Island, FL. (December 2018)
Decided to take a flyer and run the Reindeer Half Marathon on Amelia Island. I had never been to Amelia Island and thought this would be a great way to see the beach and downtown areas. The course was described as flat and fast and it lived up to the billing. The run starts and ends right on the beach. In between it winds through nature preserves, neighborhoods, downtown and the Fort Clinch state park. Unfortunately, the weekend weather was not great, so I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted. I spent a lot of time at SLIDERS which has a great menu and ice-cold beers. Was able to venture out on the beach the day after the race before the rain started again. Will look to make it back to Amelia Island to get a better feel for the area.
Looking to add a few additional cities to my Running Traveler program. Will run the Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in September—never been to Philly. Also looking at running the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon again in December after taking a year away from this race. May add a few others to round out my running schedule for 2019.
Currently committed to run:
- Gulf Winds Track Club 15k (January)
- New Orleans Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (February)
- Winter Park 10k (March)
- Nashville Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (April)
- Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half (September)
Looking forward to catching up with friends and drinking beer at all these races! See YA’LL soon!