year after year st jude memphis marathon weekend is my favorite weekend to be a memphian. so many of my favorite friends come back in town, and we all get together to run for the kids of st jude. this year’s marathon weekend looked markedly different than it has in years past, but it was still a special one.
race organizers made the difficult but necessary decision over the summer to make this year’s run virtual. i know it wasn’t an easy decision for them to make, but there was no way we could host 25,000 runners plus additional visitors during a pandemic, and there was especially no way that all of us could run through st jude’s campus, always the highlight of race day.
there were some added incentives to still run, including the introduction of a 2- and 4-race series that promised additional medals. because i can’t say no to st jude, i signed up for the 2-race series, figuring i was doing well enough with my running that i could do the 5k in november and then run the 10k on race day.
as always life and 2020 had a few extra wrenches to throw my way, but i got both of my runs in. on november 15 i ran my 5k around central gardens and cooper-young, and on what would have been race day – december 5 – i headed downtown to complete my 10k.
i had a vague framework for my route in my head, but mostly i winged it and managed to limp my way to the end. i’m glad i decided to run downtown, because even though i was running on my own i passed a lot of other fellow heroes out logging their miles. it was great to see others running for st jude and to have a few random cheerleaders along the way.
going into it i hadn’t run in 2.5 weeks [that’s a long story that is coming soon], so i knew it was going to be a bit of an uphill battle. my plan was to run for 2 songs, walk for one, and repeat until i crossed the 10k mark, and i’m proud to say i stuck with that for the entirety of the route.
i ran on main street. i ran past the st jude entrance. i ran along riverside and on beale street. i crossed my virtual finish line at the mlk reflection park, which somehow felt quite fitting. and then chrystal and pat – and jonesy, of course – met me after with snacks.
it wasn’t the same as years past, that’s for sure, but it was still absolutely worth it. in what has been an absolutely ridiculous year, i have raised more money than ever before for st jude — $1,836 and counting [i still have a few matching donations to make, so that’s going to go up]. in a year in which st jude has had to take on the added cost of testing all of their employees on a weekly basis, every little bit helps, and i have been blown away by the support i’ve received this year.
and while i hope beyond hope that we can do this in person next year, i’ll be honest and say that the virtual pasta party was pretty great.
ps — this year wasn’t my first virtual st jude run! in 2015 i was living in india, but i still fundraised and i ran my 5k in calcutta wth deboo [2 days before his wedding!]