A Running Glance:
Things I loved
- 4th of July Tradition
- Runner’s Reunion
- Tech Tank Option
Things I less than loved
- Hot and hilly! But, that’s just part of the fun!
This local 5k is most famous for its post-race refreshments! The Watermelon Classic draws a pretty large crowd every year, and this year was no exception. With 800 runners and more than 200 walkers, well over 1,000 watermelon enthusiasts earned their post-race treat in 2019!!
Early registration was set at $25, which is about the average 5k price. The week before the race the price increased to $30, with no race day registration available. Team registration is an option, but with no discount. I’d love to see a $5 (or more) discount on team registration to encourage larger groups of participants to register! Other than the comradery, there’s no real incentive to register as a team. The money raised benefits the MS Sports Hall of Fame & Museum. Let’s see just how many teams we can get to sign up next year!
For the last several years, there’s been the option to choose to receive a tech tank for your race shirt or a regular sleeved tech shirt. I love having the tank option because that’s usually what I wear when I run. (In case you didn’t know, it is some kind of hot in Mississippi, y’all.) It’s also nice to receive swag you will actually get some use out of!! The classic “watermelon footprint” design has been incorporated for as long as I can remember, and it was once again predominantly featured on the center front of this year’s vibrant purple shirt. The back of the shirt displays the names and logos of the many sponsors who help make this race a success year and after year. Thank you, Farm Bureau, Blue Cross Blue Shield, St. Dominic’s, Fleet Feet Sports and all the other sponsors for your continued support.
The finish line is positioned in the parking lot of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum. There are tents with water, Powerade, and of course – freshly sliced watermelon – waiting for each finisher. St. Dominic’s was giving out popsicles this year and let me tell you … that was the best popsicle I ever had!! This year they only announced overall winners so runners and walkers who placed in their age groups had to stand in line to pick up their awards. I supposed that’s about the same as standing around waiting for the awards post-race, but I like seeing the winners accept their medals/trophies! If I ever run fast enough to receive an award at the Watermelon Classic, there better be a dang announcement, lol. (And possibly a firework show, a tiara pinned on my head, and an opportunity for an acceptance speech so I can remember to thank all the little people who made that run possible!!) Sounds like I’m kidding, but I’m not! 😉
Branded “dog-tags” were given to each participant who crossed the finish line. Wooden age group medals were won by some of my speedier counterparts, and the fastest of them all snagged hand-painted “Mustard Seed” original ceramic shoe “trophies.”
*Mark your calendars for the RUNable $5 5k to benefit the Mustard Seed on October 17!*
Blue Cross Blue Shield had a huge volunteer presence. There were ample encouraging volunteers at packet pick-up, along the course, and at the finish line.
The course begins on Lakeland Drive, just down from the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum. From there, participants take a right onto the frontage road and then a right onto Eastover Drive. We then take a right onto Ridgewood Road and then another right back onto Lakeland Drive. The last right lands you in the parking lot of the museum where the finish line awaits!
Course Difficulty: LEVEL 3
This course is not particularly scenic, BUT it offers several rolling hills to distract from the lack of views! The back half of the course through Eastover has a few slight inclines and the Ridgewood Road section is a real calf burner! In addition to the hills, the heat is the real culprit as to why this course rates a LEVEL 3 on my scale. Hills and heat are my kryptonite and this race has both! All part of the #HighLevelFun I assure you!! This race is on my “cant’ miss” list.
There were three water stops along the way, which is a lot for a 5k! This tough little course on a Mississippi July morning calls for ample hydration, and I appreciate the race director and organizers heeding that call!
The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum shares a parking lot with the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum as well as the Smith-Wills Stadium. So, there is a decent-sized parking lot available to participants. My advice would be to always arrive early and allow extra time for parking, especially in a race with 1000+ participants.
These guys really know how to put on a fun 5k! My most favorite thing about this race is that most of my friends are there. I call this one a “Runner’s Reunion” because it’s one of the few local races that just about everyone makes a point to attend! Add this one to your calendar for next year; I hope to see you there!!
On a side note, you may notice many of the ‘cool-kids’ in this review wearing our red “Team RWB” shirts. If you aren’t familiar with the organization, sit down and let me tell you all about it! RWB stands for “Red, White & Blue” and it’s a national veteran’s outreach organization. Jackson, Mississippi has a chapter that could really use your support! We recognize how important it is for service men and women to integrate back into civilian life after deployment or any other service that separates them from their family and friends. Our focus is to do this through physical and social activity. You don’t have to be a military member to participate. I’m not, I just love supporting those who’ve dedicated their lives to serving our country. Check us out on Facebook or read more online here! Email me at Chris@RUNable.life if you have any questions or want to learn more about joining!