An embarrassing run

Dear Editor:

 

On behalf of my city and our running community, I would like to apologize for the pathetic race that you just experienced. While I am not a city official, nor a member of the race organization, I do love Jackson and did love this race and I am embarrassed.

You read past reviews and researched the course. You trained for many months. Some of you travelled thousands of miles and committed considerable resources to experience the best marathon that Mississippi has to offer. And we failed you.

You expected a tough and hilly course and you got it. However, you also expected an attractive and informative race bib. Instead you received a bib leftover from an unrelated race with hand scribbled “Full” or “Half” on it. You also expected appropriate aid stations. Instead, you rationed what little liquid you had and gazed longingly at dog bowls and bird baths. After 26.2 miles, you expected warm food and appropriate hydration. Instead you received one warm bottle of water and a small bag of pretzels. You expected Blues music. Instead, you passed musicians with broken generators and no sound. You expected an appropriate medal to commemorate your success. Instead you received a generic medal still packaged in shrink wrap. But, marathoners, count yourself lucky as some of the 5k finishers didn’t even get that.

None of this should have happened. I apologize. This is not how Jackson treats its visitors. Please remember the wonderful neighbors, the smiling children giving high fives, the guy playing the trumpet near Eastover, the impromptu beer and Fireball aid stations in Bellhaven, and yes, even the portions of trail running through Fondren.

It’s ironic that the only part of the race that could not be controlled by the organizers was also the only part of the race which was successful. The weather was perfect. We hope you enjoyed that.

This was my eighth running of the Mississippi Blues Marathon. Counting one half, one relay, and the cancelled year, last weekend marked my 11th participation in this race. I have been proud to consider this my hometown race. I was even proud of this race in 2017 when it was cancelled. It was the right call. Sadly, for 2019, the right call was never made, and I am not proud, but embarrassed.

Runners, please know that your experience was not typical. Mississippi is a welcoming state. Jackson is a lively, friendly, and helpful city. We thank you for coming to visit and we apologize for your experience. Please consider visiting again. Or consider one of the other wonderful marathons in the state. Or come back to Jackson for a great trail run, ultra, half-marathon, or 5 or 10k. Or if you can’t come back soon, please know that we thank you for visiting, we wish you luck in all future races, and will welcome you at any future time.

Jonathan S. Jones

Embarrassed Jacksonian

 

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