I booked accommodations with an Airbnb less than a mile from the startline, but three days before leaving, I got an email from the Airbnb host that they were unfortunately going to have to cancel my reservation due to a family emergency. While it put me in a predicament, I wasn’t too concerned, as I had a few friends who were in town to do the race as well, and one of them might be able to put me up. I got in touch with my friend Patricia from California, and we agreed to room together, though she was trying to figure out a hotel closer to the start area. Just two days before marathon weekend, I lucked out in getting us what looked to be the FINAL room available in the block reserved by the St. Jude Marathon at the Guest House at Graceland, a popular Memphis hotel situated next to the famous mansion home of Memphis’ famous son, Elvis Presley. While not in downtown, the hotel offered free shuttles between the airport and the hotel, as well as a shuttle to the startline on race morning.
I flew into Memphis after work on Friday direct from LaGuardia, a flight that was (no surprise) delayed in departing, as most flights are leaving that overly bogged-down airport. We landed about half an hour late, and being able to sit in First, I was one of the first people off the plane. I hightailed it down to the arrivals level and was able to get the shuttle from the airport to take me directly to the Guest House at Graceland, where I was staying for the weekend.
|At the expo...|
|Pre-race with Patricia at Autozone Park|
|Running by the Gibson Guitar Factory|
|The Elvis Statue at MLGW Plaza|
|Running on Beale Street, "Home of the Blues"|
|Running up Georgia Avenue|
|Coming down Riverside Drive|
We headed north along Front Street for a few blocks, passing a gorgeous apartment building, resplendent in its red and white striped brick facade. Now the Gayoso House at Peabody Place, the site was formerly the Gayoso Hotel, the first luxury hotel in Memphis originally built in 1842 and was burned down in 1899. The new building, which opened in 1902, has experienced some paranormal activity for most of its history, and is the stop on many a Memphis Ghost Tour. Locals consider this area to be the core of the downtown. At Monroe Avenue, we turned right to run a few blocks in the direction of AutoZone Park (we could see the , before turning reaching the end of the road where we turned left onto South B.B. King Boulevard to head north.
|FedEx plane alongside the course!|
|Entering the St. Jude Campus|
|Heading toward the Memphis Pyramid|
|Mississippi River views|
|St. Jude logo on the hill next to Riverside Drive|
|People cheering for us from above|
Danny Thomas Boulevard
|Beautiful treelined North Parkway|
|Making our way through Overton Park|
|East Parkway past Overton Park|
Almost immediately after our turn back onto North Parkway, we turned right into the Hein Park Historic District, an area of beautiful 20th century revival style homes built in the 1920s and 1930s on fairly decent sized tracts of land. While it was largely flat, the streets were designed to follow the curves of the land, so that the houses were built at different levels. After circling around the neighborhood, we found ourselves next to Rhodes College running past its softball field and soccer field and 20 mile mark of the race, now just 10K from the finish line. We continued south onto West Drive where we were back at North Parkway, turning right to run past Rhodes College's "front doorstep."
We ran a little over a mile heading west on North Parkway, before turning right to do a slight detour of about 1.3 miles through the residential area of Vollintine-Evergreen, an area that was largely where the housing boom was concentrated after the Memphis Parkway System along North Parkway was constructed. It was around the 35K mark here that I crossed a timing mat, registering a 3:53:52 split. Only 7.2K left to go! Eventually, we found ourselves running back south onto Stonewall Street, then turned right onto North Parkway. We passed through an aid station with huge posterboards from St. Jude, showing stories of former patients and how they are doing today, in remission from the cancer that the hospital had treated them. It was touching to reconnect back to the cause of why I was doing this race - and what the money that had been raised for this race in particular was going to. Eventually, we had passed mile 24, and had made it all the way back to where we had initially turned a few hours ago, at Danny Thomas Boulevard.
|Danny Thomas Boulevard nearing the end of the race|
|Mile 25... only 1.2 to go!|
|I had to take a picture with an Elvis impersonator... when in Memphis!|
|Victory Headstand on Beale Street!|
|The room where MLK was shot|
|Exhibits inside the National Civil Rights Museum|
|The Lorraine Motel|
|In front of Graceland Mansion|
|The Jungle Room|
|Elvis Presley's gravesite|
I got back to New York in time for some dinner plans I had made with friends visiting New York, but looked back at my accomplishments for the weekend; the St. Jude Memphis Marathon marked my final marathon of 2018, concluding an epic year where I managed to run 32 full marathons and 8 half marathons, bringing my numbers up to 91 lifetime fulls and 93 lifetime halves. Not only did I finish a huge goal of completing my 50 states, but I got to add twelve new countries to my arsenal, bringing me to 22 countries completed. 2018 was a fantastic year, with so much to look forward to in 2019.
2018, an epic year of running for me! Check out my year end wrap up video!