Mississippi River marathon took place February 6th, 2021 in Greenville, Mississippi. Greenville, MS is a small town that appears to have had its heyday maybe half a century ago. The area has lots of Blues history with their river walk showcasing a Hollywood-esque stars of fame relating to Blues and other famous musicians from the area.
The race itself was on Saturday, so packet pickup occurred the Friday before in a small building. The packet pickup was a quick in and out, grabbing the packet and out the door. There was no other vendors, but it was mostly expected being a small race. They did offer free shirts from prior year races, in addition to the usual race swag for the 2021 race, which included the race shirt (performance cotton short sleeve), a bag that would double as the drop bag, and the race bib.
Race morning starts with a bus ride to the start line. The race actually starts outside of Lake Village, Arkansas, meaning it could count for Arkansas or Mississippi if you’re working on all 50 states. The race website claims it would be possible to park nearby, though I am not sure where, so the bus is probably the bus option. The busses took off just past 630 for the 8am start. We arrived at the start area about 7:15, so there was about 45 minutes of waiting around to start. They say that on a “normal” year they have some fire pits, but they did not have them this year to discourage people congregating due to covid 19.
The race started at 8:00am Central time. The race starts off outside of town, around a lake. At the start of the race, there is one turn and then it is pretty straight forward for several miles, making its way through the town of Lake Village around mile 5. The lake stays on your left for the first half of the race, while the right hand side will show off the many farms in the area, except for the mile or so in town. There were aid stations approximately every mile to mile and a half and the volunteers were great. The first half was almost completely flat.
Right after mile 13, the race has its 1 and only climb. The race slowly climbs up the bridge that connects Arkansas to Mississippi. It’s worth noting, there is a water stop before and after the bridge, but not on the bridge. This is important as it’s about 2 to 2.5 miles from one side to the other. It’s the only area on course that goes more than 1.5 miles without water. The bridge is open to traffic, but there was plenty of space, so I never felt unsafe. Crossing the river was very windy (the whole race had a decent headwind), but it was neat to see the Mississippi river below.
On the other side of the bridge, you enter Mississippi and the race becomes flat once again. After crossing the Mississippi, you don’t really see the river (or any water for that matter) at all. It is still several miles to the town of Greenville, so there are some more empty fields. As you get towards mile 20, you begin to enter the outskirts of town. The last few miles of the race have you running through the town. The race finishes just before you reach the levee that protects the town from floods, though the river is not visible. There was plenty of food post race, from donuts from the local donut shop, to tamales (Greenville is apparently the tamale capital of the world, in their own words). There wasn’t much of a post race party this year, due to Covid, but there were a few people still around the area.
Overall, the race was pretty nice. There was plenty of aid and the volunteers were great. If you don’t like flat races, you probably won’t like the race, but if you want flat, this is for you. I will note that we had a very overcast day, but if it was sunny and warm, it might be a tough run as there is almost no shade on the entire course. The marathon does help the local community, so definitely worth checking out.