Saturday, April 25, 2009

Country Music Marathon--A View From The Row

I woke up at an ungodly hour this morning, made coffee, walked the dog, and headed to the street behind my house for one of my favorite events: the Country Music Marathon. The course runs both ways down famed music row-- 16th and 17th Avenue South. I live right near there so I get to see the runners and walkers twice without moving more than a few feet. They come up 17th Ave. South, wind around the Belmont and 12 South neighborhoods, and then head back on 16th Ave South. on their way back downtown. Bands are located at strategic points along the route, and from my vantage point, I get to hear two. Randy McClellan (warming up above before the marathon started) played this year at the 17th and Wedgewood spot, and Jessica Miller at 16th and Wedgewood. They played great music today, and it wasn't all country music. The tunes included music by Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, among others. It was a real party, and I loved it.

This year was the marathon's 10th anniversary, which is awesome because in the early years they had trouble attracting enough participants, and there was a fear it would not continue. But for the last year or so, more than 30,000 people have signed up, the majority running the half marathon.

I donned one of my purple leukemia and lymphoma T-shirts and went out to root for my fellow fundraisers who are helping to stamp out leukemia. When I ran my three marathons for leukemia in the '90s, it meant a lot to me that others wearing the purple shirts were on the sidelines cheering us on, so I always try to reciprocate in my home city. The crowd support near my house gets better every year. I hear the support in the latter miles of the race is not so good---maybe we can work on that in coming years.

I always stake a place on the sidewalk in time to see the frontrunners. They come up 17th Ave. preceded by a police escort and the media truck, and every time it takes my breath away.

Below are the leaders of the pack. There is one other runner ahead of them.

This morning when I walked outside at 7 a.m., it was already warm, and I was comfortable in a sleeveless shirt. I thought to myself that may not be a good sign for the runners and walkers, as usually it is cool enough in the morning to wear a jacket. Even a few degrees difference in temperature can cause problems for marathoners. During the course of the day, the temperature got up into the mid-80s, which is almost 20 degrees hotter than the average temperature on that day. Sure enough, it did take a toll on the runners and walkers, and one man died after finishing the half marathon.

This marathon, like all of them, had its light moments. Some participants dress up in costumes or do funny things. One person was wearing a bear mascot suit, which I am sure was discarded in record time due to the heat. One man was jogging and juggling at the same time. The group above was hulahooping and walking at the same time!

Watching the marathon always puts me in the best mood. Everyone doing a marathon is at some interesting point in their life, and it is inspirational to see them push toward their goal. My dog Stuey really enjoyed it too. He can run like the
wind. He knew that if he could off his leash, he
would be the winner.

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