A Running Glance:
Things I loved
- Started and finished inside the MS State Fair!
- Impressive spread of fair food
- Fast, downhill finish
- SO MANY volunteers!
Things I less than loved
- Hilly (but FUN!) course
Where can you eat free funnel cake AND syrup-filled biscuits, see a dragon and a 96-pound pumpkin, and win a medal shaped like a Ferris wheel? How about the fabulous Mississippi State Fair!?!?
Early registration was only $25, which increased to $30 the month before the event. The race director was very generous and even gave us a RUNable $5 off coupon to promote and share. #RUNableDealsAndSteals #RUNadeals
The shirt was “Bella+Canvas” brand, another of my favorites. It’s a lightweight blend (90% polyester/10% cotton) and so comfortable. I LOVED the little touches like the red X on the sleeve. This image represents an awareness campaign associated with the race’s cause: human trafficking. (Check out The Or Project for more info.) The back of the shirt had the words, “Got Funnel Cake?” large across the top, with the sponsors’ logos below. I just loved this fun little twist. And who doesn’t love funnel cake!?
The finish line was so much fun. The band from Fondren Church was on stage jamming; the funnel cake was fresh, along with SO many varieties and quantities of foods and drinks. Just beside the finish line was table after table filled with snow-cones, lemonade, water, funnel cakes (with or without fruity pebbles) warm biscuits filled with Blackburn syrup, hotdogs, plus tons of packaged goodies. There was also just something magical and special about finishing the race inside the fair!!
If you were one of the fastest at the fair that morning, you were rewarded with a pretty sweet custom-made medal. The medal included a custom printed matching ribbon and measured at about 2 ½ inches in diameter. I was just speedy enough to snag first in my age group, and I was proud to earn one of these unique beauties!
I stopped by Vineyard Church the day before the race to pick up my packet and was greeted by several volunteers. They answered my questions about parking and wished me good luck. The moment I pulled onto the fairgrounds the next morning, I could already see volunteers wearing the familiar race shirts directing traffic toward the start line. There were volunteers everywhere helping to guide participants into the correct area. On course, they were literally at every turn!! I can’t remember the last time I saw so many volunteers at a 5k! Big thank you to Vineyard Church; you guys really came together to support an event you believed it! Kudos to you!
The start/finish line was set up inside the fair near Jefferson Street. (It was just down from the Biscuit Booth, and I sure hope you know where that is. If you don’t take anything else from this review, hear this: go to the fair right now (or next year) and do yourself a favor and have a FREE BISCUIT from the booth. Read all about this MS State Fair Tradition here. Anyway, I got a little off subject thinking about those biscuits. (Get one, you’ll understand.) Back to the scenery! The excitement of the fair and running past livestock was interesting (stinky too, lol) but the majority of the route covered downtown Jackson. The route took us passed the State Capitol Building, Smith Park, as well as very close to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History.
Course Difficulty: LEVEL 2.5
The run started inside the fairgrounds, and then we took a right onto North Jefferson, then we ran along High Street, where we took a right on Greymont Street. That road eventually turned into the appropriately named Fairgrounds Street; we followed it until we took a right back onto Jefferson but this time, we took a left onto Mississippi Street, then Lamar, before finishing on East Amite. Jefferson had several steeper inclines and there was one hill on Amite that was INTENSE. However, when you go to the top and could see the entire State Fair sprawled out in front of you, it was literally all downhill from there! I loved the fast finish and running down to cross the finish line. After a tough little course, it felt amazing to feel like I was finishing strong!
There were two aid stations, one on Greymont and one on Mississippi Street. And again, WOW at all the volunteers on the course!
I was running late (shocker) so it was 7:30 a.m. before I pulled in. There were already tons of people on-site getting ready for livestock events, so it seemed like a lot of the available parking was already full. I ended up parking closer to the Equine Center, but I was still pretty close to the start/finish line.
Between Vineyard Church and sweet Kaitlyn Ashley, this event really came together! I know this team worked very hard all year planning, promoting and preparing. MS Race timing did a wonderful job timing, as always. The hard work and dedication of all involved was evident on race day. I would absolutely love it if this event became a Mississippi State Fair tradition. What a wonderful way it would be to kick off our state fair every year!