A Running Glance:
Things I loved
- Top-notch finish-line party and FOOD
- Course full of spectators and volunteers
- Unique route that included the USM campus and the zoo
- Raised over $200,000 for local charities
Things I less than loved
- So. Much. Humidity.
In its 8th year the formerly named “Rise and Shine” Hattiesburg Half Marathon, 10k and 5k received a rebranding this year, one that really helped it “SHINE!” The new Race Directors (Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Forrest General Hospital, and The Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation) really stepped up in promoting this year’s event, which showcased a brand new, certified course!
As with most races, the price increases as the date draws near. The early bird pricing was SUPER reasonable for a race of this size and distance options. The Half was $65, the 10k was $35, and the 5k was $25. Fourteen agencies benefited from the race, which at last count raised over $200,000 collectively for these charities. That’s not a typo! TWO-HUNDRED-GRAND! Unbelievable!
The t-shirt itself was pretty standard. I like the neutral gray color and unisex fit. The RNS Hattiesburg logo is aesthetically pleasing so I didn’t mind it being prominent across the front, but I think the small circle logo on the pocket would look good too. (Hint, hint – for next year, y’all!)
They had additional swag for sale online, but I had planned to pick up some branded gear at the expo or after-party. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it available. (Bummer.) However, you can visit their online shop here and place an order. I need…okay, I want a sweatshirt and a visor. (Need/want – potato/potato.)
And…Um, this finish line, y’all!?! There were tons of people awaiting my arrival, along with photographers and, yes…ice-cold Gatorade! After I sat down for a minute and complained about the unholy humidity, I walked around the corner, and oh my goodness! Waiting for me was a parking lot full of fun! A caricature artist, a photo booth van, a recovery cocktail booth, a Marathon Brewing Company beer booth, AND FOOD! Glorious, delicious red beans and rice and chicken chili and pizza and wings and macaroni and cheese and… pretzels and bananas too. Jackpot! (My apologies there are no photographs of any grub. #DestroyTheEvidence)
The medals for the 5k, 10k and Half Marathon were all the same. The only difference was that the ribbon specified the distance. I would have liked to have seen the medal itself vary in size, growing larger the longer the race distance. The medal is really unique and the perfect representation of the town. Hattiesburg is known as the “Hub City” for its location at the crossing of rail lines. The medal depicts the Train Depot, one of Hattiesburg’s oldest and most recognizable landmarks.
The awards were designed by local artist, Thomas Jackson. Pictured here are the original 24×48 paintings at the finish line party, and three speedy age group winners who received these commemorative reproductions.
One word: WHOA! There were SO MANY! There were volunteers and spectators around all of the water stops, and packet pick-up was chock full of folks ready to answer questions.
This route, y’all!!! The race began outside the historic Saenger Theatre. From there the route wound through the Hattiesburg Zoo (how cool is that!?) then flowed nearly three full miles around the University of Southern Mississippi’s Campus. The final leg of the course was spent on the scenic Longleaf Trace and then it finished right back where it began. There were tons of sights to see! Highlights for me were the Girl Scouts (around mile 4) handing out COOKIES, running through the tunnel at USM while the band was playing, (check out the video posted at the top of this page if you haven’t already! It is EPIC!) and finally the puppies from Southern Pines Animal Shelter at mile 11. Those puppy kisses really got me through those last few miles! #AdoptDontShop #RunningBuddies
Course Difficulty: LEVEL 2.5
This was truly a flat course, but it did have lots of turns. There was so much to see and so many distractions it did make the UNBEARABLE HUMIDITY survivable. I walked more than I ever have in a Half, but I enjoyed this race immensely! Slowing down gave me an opportunity to chat with other runners, “enjoy the journey” and take more pics on course than I usually do. Bonus!
You might recognize the famous Hattiesburgian pictured below. But just in case you aren’t a huge fan of the sportsings, I’ll just tell you…it’s former NFL quarterback, BRETT FAVRE.
As I mentioned before, this race benefited 14 different local charities. Each nonprofit took ownership of a mile of the race, which included decorating and providing volunteers to help with water stations, traffic control, and safety for the runners. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many aid-stations, no exaggeration! It was unreal.
We arrived maybe 30-minutes before race time and were able to park right around the corner inside a parking garage. There seemed to be plenty of parking for everyone and I didn’t hear a single complaint. Runners – we run long distances, but don’t make us walk a quarter mile to our car!
I was SUPER impressed with this event. This was my 13th half marathon, and it really raised the bar, especially compared to other “local-ish” events. It was a privilege to participate in 2019, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s race. #RunHattiesburg
I just have to mention my absolute favorite part of the day. The tables were being taken down at the post-race party. The photo booth van had driven away. The caricature artist had finished his last masterpiece for the day. A couple friends and I had finally come to terms that this awesome event had come to an end, and we were saying our good-byes and walking back to our cars. Just then, I heard over the loudspeaker the announcer say something to the effect of, “Let’s give it up for featured athlete, Kayleigh Williamson!” Kayleigh was the first woman with Down Syndrome to finish the Austin Half Marathon back in 2017, and I had read that she’d be running with us that day. It triggered in my brain what was about to happen. I told my friends, “We have to go see her finish!” We rounded the corner just in time to witness something extraordinary; something that reminded me why I started this whole #RUNable thing. We watched in amazement as Kayleigh finished her 6th Half Marathon. This inspiring young woman literally represents everything that RUNable stands for. If you are ready and willing, you are ABLE to do ANYTHING. Congratulations Kayleigh, and to all the athletes that showed that humid half who was boss!