On Sunday February 12th, 2017, I took part in the Mercedes Benz Marathon. It was my 4th marathon completed in less than four months. Incredible right? I think so. I was gracious enough to be invited to Birmingham, Alabama, a city I’ve never been to, yet always wanted to visit. I knew this was going to be chaotic since it was a quick trip. I flew in Saturday morning on Delta, and after a quick layover in Atlanta I landed in the city.
I hopped in a taxi and went straight to the 16th Street Baptist Church. I hopped out and soaked up the views of the church, the park and the façade of the Civil Rights Institute. My taxi driver, James, was so cool, he was kindly enough to sit and wait while I snapped 20 pictures. I jumped back in and went to my hotel to check-in.
I was excited about getting my race packet so my next stop was the Expo. Tucked inside the Boutwell Memorial Auditorium is where 7,000 runners went to grab their race bibs and free t-shirts. I’m still excited by the ambiance and the energy of the people here. Everyone is still all smiles, since they haven’t actually had to do much running yet!
The night before I went to an amazing restaurant, Bottega. Of course I had the pasta, although I really wanted the lamb porterhouse. It just sounded amazing. Carb load folks…carb load. I was in bed by 9:30 and up at 5:00am. The race didn’t start until 7:03am, so I had plenty of time to get ready and make it to the start. Here are 5 tips if you plan on running this race:
- The city is rich in culture. It being the largest city in Alabama, 200,000 strong, it still felt like a small town. Allow a bit more time to absorb the vibe of the people and culinary delights of the south.
- Staying downtown is key. Everything you want to see and do is right there. I highly recommend the Sheraton or the Westin. They’re connected and about a 5-minute walk to the race start, the museums and a few cool restaurants. Anything else is a quick Uber ride from downtown.
- The Expo. It’s small. If you’ve run other races and assumed you can get everything you need there, think again. It’s tiny. But a good alternative is the Trak Shak and they’ll have a spot at the Expo. They also have two locations and provide pretty good array of products in their stores.
- The weather was strange. It was about 67 degrees and humid. It was a bit hotter than I like but some of the runners I spoke to loved it. I guess it’s just personal preference.
- The race. The course is two loops around Birmingham. The incline will test your endurance and remind you to add cross fit into your training. You get a great view of the city…twice. I loved it.