A Love Story: Road Racing and the MS Track Club

In 2014, a friend (Thanks, Theresa!) invited me to join the Mississippi Track Club. I had heard of MTC, but was not at all familiar with what they actually did. Truthfully, I thought they were some sort of elite club of runners; a high-level group of competitors who would certainly shun the likes of me. After all, I have both celebrated and embraced my self-appointed title of “The World’s Okayest Runner.” (And I also have the headband to prove it.)

However, I was delighted to find out just how very wrong I was about the track club. First of all, they are comprised of not just runners but walkers as well. And while YES, there are many speedy-fast runners that are also MTC members, the track club is primarily made up of us “OKAYEST” runners (and those awesome walkers I mentioned too.)

Although MTC isn’t exactly the Elite-only competitors I initially envisioned, they do offer a unique “second-level” of competition. This is absolutely what first attracted me to the club. I am very competitive by nature; this is another of the many reasons I love running and road racing. You see, MTC does a little friendly competition among its members called the “Grand Prix.”

Every member can choose to complete predetermined races to earn points toward their standings in the Grand Prix race. The athlete with the most points at the end of the year “wins” their age division. That next year, I made it my mission to complete every single “Grand Prix” sanctioned race.

In 2015, I ran 12 out of the 12 Grand Prix races! My efforts were rewarded with a first-place position in my division. That year they gave out beautiful handpainted platters as our “trophy,” and I was hooked.

For the next several years I was lucky enough to place first in the “Open Division” category. (That’s everyone age 39 and below.) Then this last year (2019) I bumped up to the “Masters Division” thanks to hitting the big 4-0 in 2018!

I honestly thought my first place streak would be coming to an end, but my “quantity over quality” approach still proved successful. I only completed eight out of the 12 Grand Prix races in 2019, but I still managed to end the year with the most points, snag the “2019 Overall Female Runner” award, and be named “Masters Division Champion.”

BUT WAIT! There’s more! In some freak occurrence that must have involved an eclipse, some sort of supernatural phenomenon, and possibly just pure dumb luck, MTC also presented me with the “Jerry Bennett 2019 Female Runner of the Year Award.” BONUS: they also gifted us MTC coffee mugs. #NowWhoIsReallyWinning #Coffee #NectorOfTheGods

As I am no doubt, simply the “World’s Okayest Runner,” MTC clearly recognizes HEART and good ole fashioned LOVE OF THE SPORT. In 2019, I was not the fastest. Honestly, I was nowhere even close to the fastest. I certainly did not run the most miles. Honestly, I was nowhere even remotely close to logging the most miles! But anyone (and probably everyone) who knows me knows … I. LOVE. RUNNING. There is nothing more satisfying than training and competing and pouring your heart and soul into this beautiful, beautiful sport. Running gives you back what you give running. I have heard it said that running is the greatest metaphor for life, and I absolutely have to agree. In the 6 years I have been a runner, I have learned more about myself than I ever did in the 35 years prior.

So, I say all of this to give props where props are due! Joining the Mississippi Track Club gave me the goal and direction I needed to gain the positive reinforcement required to solidify my love of this sport.

I have made life long friendships along the way with so many wonderful people, many of whom I still share the road with today. Some have moved away, some have passed away, and some may not be running like they did when we met, but all have left their footprints on my life. I am forever changed; I am forever grateful to them, and to MTC, for their impact on who I am.

If you’re interested in joining the Mississippi Track Club, it’s ONLY $20! (And $5 for your family members!) In exchange, you’ll receive their bi-monthly newsletter in your mailbox and bragging rights to your friends. You’ll also be eligible to compete in the Grand Prix, as long as you volunteer at two (or more) MTC races during the year. (Volunteering is my second favorite thing to do at a race.)

I hope to see you out on the road and at the Grand Prix Banquet, held at Mama Hamil’s every January. (I should have just led with Mama Hamil’s!) #AllYouCanEatBuffet #CominAtcha #January2021 #MSTrackClub #RoadRacing #ALoveStory

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