Things I loved
Things I less than loved
If you’re like me and can’t hear the National Anthem without tearing up, then a patriotic race like the Battleship 12k might just be your kind of event! Held every year on the Sunday nearest Veteran’s Day, this race’s motto is “Run to Honor.” The course begins along the intersection of Bass Pro Drive & HWY 98/Old Spanish Trail in Spanish Fort, Alabama, runs along the bay and finishes inside the USS Alabama’s Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama. This year was the 4th Annual Event, and my second year in a row to participate. All money and resources raised benefit one of their four charities: Boot Campaign, Mission 22, Team RWB, and the One-4-One Patriot Charity Campaign. Learn more about these awesome causes here.
I signed up the day registration opened (April 9, 2018) so I got in for only $22! (WHAT?!) I’m unsure if they’ll offer that special again this year, but you best believe I’ll be monitoring their website and will share on the
(*EDIT – TODAY ONLY* Register for $22!! See y’all there!*)
Like I said, your registration fee includes a nice long-sleeved cotton/ poly blend t-shirt. This year’s design was unique because they printed the participants’ names on the back! The design was arranged in such a way that our names formed the outline of an eagle across the back of the shirt. (Hello AMERICA!! ;)) You can see my name on the close-up photo below, top row, center-ish. The shirt front featured fighter jet planes; this year’s race honored the Air Force and is part of their series that recognizes a different branch of the military each year. (Last year was the Navy; next year is the Marines.) Another thing that earned this race a higher score on the RACEable scale was the personalized race bib! Fancyyyyyy. Who doesn’t like seeing their name on their race bib? Lastly, race “alumni” like myself (a returning finisher from the previous year) are also given a “Battleship Challenge Coin.” They also had some cool swag (sweatshirts – $40, hats – $25, and Visors – $20) available for purchase.
They didn’t have a traditional “expo,” but they did hold Packet Pick-Up (PPU) at a Dick’s Sporting Goods near the race start line the day before the race. PPU ended at 6 p.m., which I think is a little early for those of us coming in from out of town. The line was also fairly long. We arrived at about 4:30 p.m. and it took us about 20 minutes to get through the crowd. They also require you to have government issued identification and did not bend this rule for a member of our party who will remain nameless (OPIE) that had mistakenly left his at home. (FYI – He was able to locate a photo of his driver’s license which they did eventually accept later, so he lived to race another day!!)
I actually purchased the BS12K visor online when I registered and completely spaced when I was picking up my packet and forgot about it. As I was about to walk off, I remembered. They checked the list and confirmed I had indeed ordered one. So, FYI to all you fellow Grandmas out there, if you do add anything to your online order, it is up to you to remember and claim it at PPU.
As for the finish line party, it consisted of coffee and donuts. I’ve seen more food at a hometown 5k and would love if they’d add a little grub to the post-race line-up! WE HANGRY after we run!! At least throw us some muscle milk and protein bars to tide us over while we wait for the shuttle!!
I like that they’ve developed a “race series” that honors a different military branch each year. The medals are heavy, quality, custom made pieces that are truly collector’s items. They even embossed the back of this year’s medal with the USAF’s “Airman’s Creed.” I’m not a member of our U.S. military, but I can see how meaningful it would be to someone who was a member or family to a member.
I didn’t think the staff at PPU was particularly friendly; it seemed a little unorganized and chaotic. And like I said, the line was a little long. I literally had zero contact with any other volunteers, so the interaction I had at PPU is all I have to go on when issuing my RACEable rating.
I love running near water, so following a course all along the coastline is right up my alley! We do run along a fairly major road, so there are lots of automobiles but also lots of amazing wildlife… but also a little road kill! Bleck! Still pretty scenic, and very cool to end the race inside the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Park post-race too.
Course Difficulty: LEVEL 2.5
There is a hill at the beginning and a HILL at the end! The last hill is about a mile before the finish line and it is a doozy! The rest of the course is as flat as they come. They switched up the finish line this year and had us run about the last ½ mile across the field in front of the Memorial Park instead of on the roadway leading into the park. I am to understand this was to prevent participants from blocking traffic into and out of the park, which makes sense. However, running on uneven, soggy terrain does slow you down just a bit. But again, it was worth it to get to finish beside the USS Alabama. It is truly a unique experience!
I ran with my handheld containing GU hydration and two GU Roctane gels, so I didn’t stop at any of the water stops. There were approximately four, if my “Mamaw Memory” serves. I did speak to the volunteers as I passed and thanked them for being out on such a cool morning handing out water. It’s impossible to put on an event like the BS12K without the help of volunteers! THANK YOU!
I stayed at the “Fairfield Inn by Marriott” which is right (and I do mean RIGHT) beside the start line. (I highly recommend this, by the way. VERY convenient!) I know a lot of folks parked in the field right beside the hotel, and I also saw some participants using the JC Penney parking lot down the hill as well. This race is “point to point” meaning the finish line is not at the same location as the start line. Race organizers provided us with coach buses to take us back to the start line post-race. The lines were also pretty long for this, but they moved fast. The last bus was scheduled to run at 11 a.m., but I could have used more time to look around the park. I literally hopped the last shuttle back! #SlowRunnerProbs
Other than the blip at PPU (which was them sticking to the rule of requiring ID) and waiting in line, we had no trouble at all. These guys definitely know how to organize a very successful event! WELL DONE, BS12K!
I love this race and plan to return next year! Mobile is only about 3.5 hours from me, and it’s a nice little overnight get-away destination. The BS12K’s mission is to promote patriotism, raise awareness and give back, all while honoring our country’s Veterans. It is truly awesome to be a part of this event every year!! See you all in 2019!