Overall Rating
Overall Rating (3 Reviews)
4
(3 Ratings)(3 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
4
SCENERY
2.7
PRODUCTION
3.7
SWAG
4
Smack in the middle of Memphis and Nashville right in West Tennessee you will find beautiful Jackson, Tennessee, home of the Andrew Jackson Marathon. Known as Tennessee’s Oldest Marathon, the Andrew Jackson Marathon starts and finishes in historical downtown Jackson. The course takes runners through the renovated downtown area, beside … MORE
Local Weather (Apr 03):
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
 
H (°F) 69 74 74 81 71
L (°F) 42 47 38 50 61
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Recent reviews

    Evwatkins FIRST-TIMER '21

    This race was my 90th marathon/ultra. The race is a double loop course with the start/finish located downtown near a farmer\'s market. Packet Pickup: I drove up the night before … MORE

    This race was my 90th marathon/ultra.
    The race is a double loop course with the start/finish located downtown near a farmer\’s market.
    Packet Pickup: I drove up the night before and stayed in an airbnb. The packet pickup ended at 5pm. I wasn\’t able to get there in time. (5pm is a bit early in my opinion). PP was offered the morning of for 30 minutes ONLY, which made me a bit anxious, expecting to either wait in line or have little time to return to my car before the race. There was a medium sized parking lot 2 blocks away which was pretty convenient. Fortunately I was able to get there with plenty of time to park easily and was first in line at PP. This was probably my mistake because I was there as the volunteers were setting up and being coached on what their individual tasks were. I waited patiently a few minutes for them to get settled before they gave me my bib/shirt. What I didn\’t realize until I got home (4 hours away) was that I was given a VOLUNTEER shirt. Apparently the difference between the Vol & runner shirts was the color of the ink. So I\’m stuck with a shirt that says volunteer across the front. Not a big deal to me honestly – It was just a cotton shirt and because I\’ve run almost 100 marathons, I have plenty of shirts. Just an honest mistake by the volunteer and by me for not checking the shirt before I left.
    Race: Start was open for 10 minutes due to COVID. The field was pretty small so that wasn\’t a big deal. (50ish marathoners). The half runners started later. The course was a double loop open course. Traffic wasn\’t terrible and police were out at larger/busy intersections. Because the field was pretty small, I lost site of most of the other runners pretty quickly. Not a big deal, I\’m good with running alone. What was a big deal was that there were very little signage along the course. Volunteers/police were stationed at all the turns along the course, which were the ONLY source of direction. I will say that the volunteers/police did a great job, but the second loop caused some anxiety…(more on that in a minute).
    When I completed my first loop, there were NO signs or volunteers telling me to continue through the arch and back out again. *Someone needs to recognize marathon bibs and verbally/visually acknowledge them and ensure they know to continue through and repeat the course.* No one did this. I knew what to do but did not know where to go.
    For the majority of my second loop, I was pretty anxious/nervous that I would go the wrong way. (As the race director of a double loop small town race, I anticipated these issues and cringed this whole loop!) Because there were NO directional signs, arrows or markers along the course (other than mile markers and a few \”yard sale size\” race signs that only said the name of the race), and because of the small field (I was completely alone on the 2nd loop, passing maybe 2-3 people the whole loop), I was worried that I would miss a turn. Fortunately, I did not, but for my final loop, there were several turns where I literally had to ask the volunteer who had lost interest in their job which way I needed to go. There were also long sections of the course where there was NO ONE else around and I almost turned around because I thought I had missed a turn. The only thing that kept me on course was my experience with double loops and knowing that I should establish landmarks on the first loop to later recognize (distinctive/unique trees/houses, business names, etc). This was a major problem for me. There was one intersection with 5-6 volunteers playing around and once I passed them, I realized that some of them should have been on block over telling runners to turn again (it was a left turn, then a quick right).
    Post race – Because the race was pretty small, I finished and within 5 minutes, I had my age group award, photo op, and was on the message table. Boxed lunches were provided along with water and powerade. I was able to wander through the farmer\’s market on the way to my car.

    BOTTOM LINE: The course needs to be physically marked. There were no directional markings/signage at all! This was a major issue for me.

    MY TWO CENTS: As a small town race director (Magnolia Marathon – Meridian Mississippi – a double loop course
    with a field very similar in size to this race), I strongly suggest to the RD to purchase a case of orange chalk marking paint (about $125 online or at any hardware store), and spend a couple hours a few days before the race (& after the last rain) painting arrows at every turn to ensure that runners don\’t get lost!
    -I\’m not criticizing the volunteers at this race at all! They did a great job of keeping me on track. They are amazing and every RD is eternally grateful for their time, BUT none of the volunteers care about the race as much as the Race director does. Honestly, most volunteers are there to get credit/hours/socialize and often lose interest after a few hours of standing on the side of the road, especially in a small race like mine and this one… Here are my suggestions:
    –A simple chalk arrow at every turn or a possible confusing intersection does wonders on a runner\’s psyche (and overall performance). I personally do this for my race. I mark at least 2 arrows at EVERY INTERSECTION along my course. Literally every one, even the ones where runners continue straight. At larger intersections I literally paint an orange line (or 2) for runners to follow, even if I know cops will be there. It takes me about 6-8 hours to do this but it helps me sleep at night. The marks wash off after several rains, typically a few weeks (days for busier intersections). It assures me that even if a volunteer is not paying attention, the runner who happens to hit that intersection will have something telling them where to go.
    –Directional signage – A few years ago, I purchased 100 three foot square corrugated plastic signs with a big white arrow on a green background (our race\’s main color) along with the logo in the corners. We put 2 grommets on each side. These signs can be zip-tied to trees, poles, signs, etc or held by a volunteer. Our volunteer coordinator thought of the GENIUS idea to put a rope through the grommets on the side of the sign that needed to be up, essentially allowing the volunteer to hang the sign around their neck, ensuring they would hold it in the correct way. We hang these signs along the course so that if standing next to one sign, you can see (or almost see) the next sign down the road (mainly on a long stretch of road). They are also placed at every turn and in some areas, multiple signs in one turn.

    These two small investments have significantly decreased the anxiety that I feel before/during our race (fear of course error) as well as giving runners multiple ways to see where to go next (verbal/physical cues from volunteers/police; signage at eye level; arrows on the road underfoot).

    Small town races are my favorite size races. They typically allow for easier logistics, cheaper travel/lodging and a more friendly atmosphere.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    4

    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    M_Sohaskey Apr 15, 2021 at 2:33pm

    Good constructive feedback, and hopefully the organizers take it to heart; I've had my eye on AJM for a while (despite the double loop), so I'd love to see them… MORE

    Good constructive feedback, and hopefully the organizers take it to heart; I've had my eye on AJM for a while (despite the double loop), so I'd love to see them step up and treat their event with the care it deserves—and especially for something as fundamental as course markings. Given my innately poor sense of direction, the fact that both you and Emily (who commented before me) felt anxious on that second loop doesn't make me eager to run AJM. But yours is great advice for any race director of any size race—and I'm sure the day was a solid reminder of what NOT to do as your prepare for Magnolia 2021. Bottom line though, you did it—congrats on #90 and winning your age group! 👏 LESS

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    runvirginia Apr 14, 2021 at 11:35am

    I agree about the anxiety on loop two. 100%.

    I agree about the anxiety on loop two. 100%.

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    runvirginia FIRST-TIMER '21

    Beautiful weather two-loop course HILLY marked intersections friendly folks at start/finish/intersections/water stops/expo. great DJ at start/finish. loved grab-and-go lunch at end, full size powerade and water. Two thumbs up! … MORE

    Beautiful weather
    two-loop course
    HILLY
    marked intersections
    friendly folks at start/finish/intersections/water stops/expo.
    great DJ at start/finish.
    loved grab-and-go lunch at end, full size powerade and water.
    Two thumbs up!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5
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    Tororuns REPEAT RUNNER '18

    just the way I dig my races. The wx was unusually cold for the AJM. It's a small race & can use more volunteers at check-in. Course monitors nearly froze … MORE

    just the way I dig my races. The wx was unusually cold for the AJM. It’s a small race & can use more volunteers at check-in. Course monitors nearly froze & were in their cars at some turns. But course support was good. Very hilly and the wind added to the challenge. It was a confidence builder for sure.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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