Graceland, here in Memphis, is like Mecca for Elvis fans.
Every August, thousands upon thousands of Elvis fanatics from all over the world converge upon Memphis to pay homage to the King of Rock and Roll.
The week-long celebration culminates with a 5k that starts and finishes at the Graceland entrance. This is one of Memphis’s biggest 5ks and is one of the few, if not the only 5k where dressing in costume is acceptable. There is even a contest for the best Elvis male and female. It’s great for people-watching.
Interestingly, if you ask Memphis locals, most of us have never been to Graceland. Those that I know who have been, went with out-of-town guests they were entertaining. So, this area of town is very touristy and going there almost felt like I was on a vacation, with all the kitschy souvenir shops and Elvis-themed hotels and restaurants.
Something else funny is that I ran this race last year and didn’t even notice I was in front of Graceland. Talk about tunnel vision!
Last year I loved seeing all the Elvis costumes and sunglasses so much that I decided to join in the fun this year. I had a pink Sparkle Skirt that I sewed a poodle onto to make a poodle skirt. I added a black initial to a white tech top, tied a pink-with-white-polka-dots bandana in my hair, and I was all set.
I got lots of compliments on my outfit, even though it was more 50s inspired than Elvis inspired.
The course itself is a really great course. It’s mostly flat with a few hills scattered in. Most of the course is actually through the residential areas around Graceland so it’s fairly well shaded. Several of the home owners had their water hoses out to spray down the runners, keeping us cool. Even though it was a nice day this year with temps in the low 70s and overcast, it still felt great to get sprayed down every now and then. One highlight was seeing the Navy captains run in formation for the entire race.
They did this last year, too, and it’s so fun to watch. Of course, running next to Navy men is never a bad thing!
The after party was so much fun, too. Post-race food was Krispy Kreme donuts, bananas, bags of white cheddar pop corn, pasta with meat sauce and alfredo sauce, smoothies, bagels, water, and freely flowing beer.
At the awards ceremony, they gave $100 each to the best male and female Elvis tribute runner. The female winner ran the entire race in gold leggings. I can’t imagine how hot and sticky that was! The male winner ran in white patent leather shoes. Talk about blisters and sore feet! He didn’t seem to mind, though.
The only negative was that a few days before the race, they sent an email saying the first 800 finishers would receive a medal. I think if any race gives out finishers medals, they should be for all finishers, not just the top 800. With over 1100 finishers, that leaves a lot of people out. The race director put on Facebook that the reason was due to expenses and they wanted as much money as possible to go to the charity, Livitup. I can appreciate wanting to maximize the charitable donation. At the same time, if you can’t afford medals for all, don’t offer them period. Medals were not mentioned on the event website and were not advertised at all so they would not have been expected had that email not been sent. It’s really not that big of a deal, but it did put a damper on a really fun event.
I was really happy with my race performance.
I got a PR, which I’ve managed to do at every 5k I’ve run this year except for one. I really hope this trend continues for my half marathons this fall.
Do you have a favorite local race?
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