A Running Glance:
Things I loved
- Long-sleeved “sponsor-free” t-shirt
- Unique distance
- Affordable price
Things I less than loved
- On-again off-again status
- No community involvement
Scenic views along Madison’s Lake Caroline, bargain-basement pricing, and a “sponsor-free” long-sleeved tee all make this race worthwhile. The MS Track Club holds this race every November the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it’s a great way to burn off all those extra calories while gearing up for your big winter race. Lake Caroline is always the last “Grand Prix” event of the year for track club members. (Read more about MTC and the Grand Prix here.)
At only $25, the Lake Caroline 15k is a STEAL of a deal. They also have a relay option for $40, another great bargain, especially if you aren’t interested in running 9.3 miles. Relay teams can split the distance (and the cost!)
This year’s shirt was a lovely brick red color, and last year the shirt was a medium gray. Their shirts are always long-sleeved and feature the Lake Caroline logo front and center. MS Track Club’s logo is located right below. The shirts are a Zorrel brand, the “dri-balance” series and are 30% polyester and 70% cotton. The two things about these shirts that make them stand out to me are 1) the complete lack of sponsor logos; the back of the shirt is empty and 2) the sleeves don’t have wrist cuffs, giving it a fancier appearance. I mean, if there’s such a thing as a dressy t-shirt, this must be it.
The start/finish line is located in the parking lot of the Lake Caroline Golf Club. After 9.3 miles, the familiar red, white, and blue streamers of an MTC race finish line are an extremely welcomed sight! Check out these great finisher pics courtesy of MS Race Timing.
They had the expected water and Gatorade available for finishers, but there were also some other tasty options designed to quench your thirst! #MimosasAreMyLoveLanguage Additionally, there were 2-liters of soda, several types of prepackaged cookies, and pizza ready and waiting for us post-race.
The age group awards were custom etched medals displaying the race logo, while the overall awards were trophies. *I came in 5th place, a full 6-minutes behind 4th place due to some nasty calf cramps in mile-4.
Ya win some, ya lose some! No medal for me this year, and that’s okay. I finished, and I celebrate finish lines not necessarily finish times. Big congrats to those of you who placed, including my dear friend, #WonderJen, who pounded out a 15k PR after having just PR’d her marathon time at the New York City Marathon a few weeks before. #TheRealWonderWoman
The MS Track Club always has plenty of volunteers on hand, and the 2019 Lake Caroline 15k was no exception. Several of my sweet friends were there helping ensure a smooth and successful event. Thanks, y’all!
The first half of the course runs through the residential area of Lake Caroline where you will find over 1,000 gorgeous homes. It’s a more upscale neighborhood situated on 3,000 acres in Madison County. The second half of the route ushers runners along a bridge/levee that runs parallel with the beautiful 850-acre private lake. The 2019 course was altered slightly due to a bridge closure within the neighborhood, which cut out some of the residential area, but overall still a lovely run.
Course Difficulty: LEVEL 2.5
I gave the course a median difficulty level score of 2.5. It’s not particularly hilly, but it isn’t exactly flat either. There are multiple turns, as it’s essentially TWO “out and back” courses pieced together. Which makes for an easy transition for those relay runners! However, the rest of us must run by the finish line at the half-way point and then tackle that never-ending bridge, which typically presents a nice little windy run! #ResistanceTraining
If memory serves, there were at least five aid stations along the route. (Two you passed twice.) There were lots of volunteers at the stations and several on course directing participants on the trickier turns.
There was ample parking available at the Club House, even if you showed up literally five minutes before race-time, like SOMEONE I know. #Me #SomeoneIsMe
The MS Track Club does a great job of organizing this race every year, and really went above and beyond this year to make it happen. I heard through the grapevine that maybe the Lake Caroline Board (*or maybe it was a certain board member – you know how unreliable the grapevine can be!) didn’t want us to have the event due to some liability or insurance issues/reasoning. I was excited to see the race once again back on the Track Club’s calendar. I hope the Board recognizes what a wonderful event they have! My advice would be to take advantage of it! You have an established, beloved community event literally at your doorstep!
I’d love to see more involvement from the Lake Caroline Community. Imagine how much fun it would be if residents came out to spectate or host special aid stations for participants. I’ve seen races in other areas embrace events in that way; it’s really beneficial for everyone involved!
“Finishing Thoughts …”
If you’re looking for a hometown 15k that won’t break the bank, you’ve found it! Thank you, MTC, and Lake Caroline for another scenic and enjoyable run! I hope to see you all in 2020.