I am not the fastest runner in the group. I am easily one of the most stubborn though.
Four months ago, after running a fun four mile course during St. Patrick’s Day, I analyzed my ‘goodie bag’ in hopes of finding coupons for free ice cream. However, I instead found a non-edible advertisement for the “Missouri Race Series”. This even spanned four months, a race each month in a different city throughout the state of Missouri. The distances offered were 5K, 10K, and 10 Mile. At only $80 for the entire four races (and four shirts) I talked my wife into letting me sign up for the event. Still dealing with the afterglow of the previous race, I had no idea what I was getting myself into…
All courses for the 5K (because I’m normal, not insane) are down-and-back on road surfaces in each community. The cities chosen for 2016 were Lee’s Summit, Jefferson City, Joplin, and Columbia. The course experience with each city though; that’s where the magic really was. Lee’s Summit offered a course along Longview Lake and around an 100+ year old mansion in what used to be rural countryscape, now a thriving suburb of Kansas City. Jefferson City allowed runners to start in an abandoned prison, run through the inmate housing, along the historic streets of downtown, around the state capital building, before returning along the bluffs of this river city. Joplin offered a nice, calm scenic route along the crystal clear, pristine rivers of the Ozark waterways before pile-driving you with a brutal incline in the final mile of the course. Columbia allowed runners to put their hard running to work with a 3.1 mile race through the M-K-T trail system along the southwest corner of the city. Only 1/2 a mile of the race was exposed to the sun; the rest was through the deciduous trees of central Missouri.
NOTE: 5K, 10K, and 10 Mile all begin at the same location, but each have a different course to complete. In this series, as noted in Joplin, it is vital that you know your course before charging out.
What makes the Missouri Race Series so unique is the word series; meaning that each race you compete in can stack up points towards a series championship. Even if I didn’t do so hot in my second race in Jefferson City, just competing in the top 10 of my age group would still gain points towards the series championship. Each city offers a specific number of points for each place finished in each respective age group. I’ve learned that smaller courses that are more technical (Joplin) offer more points compared to the ease of other routes (Columbia).
Like all ‘professional runners’, my immediate thought does not go towards winning anything, it goes towards wondering what the t-shirts look like and if BioFreeze packets are placed in the bag at packet pickup.
Out of all the races to date, the packet pickup for this series is fantastic! I’ve found free ice cream at a local ice cream shop, I’ve located multiple packets of BioFreeze, GNC through in a tote bag and a blender bottle, and the t-shirts this year were all technical, short sleeved shirts that are insanely comfortable. A few local coupons here and there, the bib, but overall not a ton of ‘bloat’ in the bag. It is a winner.
The finishers medal may be enough to entice the masses to join this series. The medal, being the shape of Missouri, is awarded to each finisher of the course.
If you’re looking to win a race; honestly this is a potential winner of a series for you. In a few of the races there were less than 50 5K runners…total. Meaning, the probability of you winning your age group can be very high. I had an injury in Jefferson City, wound up with a nauseating 35:00.00 time, and still took 1st in my age group. However, the same cannot be said for 10K races, as those have become insanely popular, and the female side of the charts. The women have far more runners and in turn are far more competitive.
-You sign up for all the races
-Attend all the races
-Do your absolute best
-Run in the correct age group
…you could wind up going home with some pretty cool stuff, with some amazing adventures.
***End of Review, Continue for My Results***
Did you know prior to 2016 I had never won a race in my life? Not even a race to the front of the cafeteria line in middle school. The closest I came was when I accidently stepped on a runner in the 800m in high school. He fell down, took two others with him, and in a field of nine runners I came home with a 6th place medal.
Personally, this series was something I desperately needed. I’ve been running for five years now. I never win, I know this. I’m not a fast runner and I have so much to improve on. However, even if I’m not the fastest, showing up to each race was worth it. This is one of those classical teaching moments that if you are persistent with something, eventually all of that hard work will pay off.
I stayed for the awards ceremony today. When I left Columbia, Missouri I had done more things in the past four months of my life as a runner compared to the past 28 years.
Lee’s Summit: 2nd Place Age Group
Jefferson City: 1st Place Age Group
Joplin: 1st Place Age Group (PR)
Columbia: 2nd Place Age Group
Because of those results, from the Missouri Race Series I came home with: