Photos are here:
BEFORE MY START: My 4th race of 2020 was the Martin Luther King 5K on Jan 19th, in support of the Young Men’s Leadership Academy in San Antonio, an all-boys educational facility that “helps them achieve their highest potential by setting high expectations and emphasizing character, leadership and discipline.” Dr. King’s “message” is one of the things the boys learn about and so this event is always held on the weekend before MLK Day not only to support the school, but to recognize his contributions. Event location was Wheatley Heights Sports Complex, a primarily high school sports event venue that includes track, football field, stadium, etc. Start time of 9 a.m., so was able to sleep in a bit, as the race location is a fairly short drive for me. Weather was sunny, but a bit chilly for we South Texans, as a cold wind had moved into the area over Saturday night-Sunday morning. Temps in the low 40s with a ‘feels like’ temp of around 38 – 39 degrees, and a pretty good wind blowing. This was the 4th year of the event – I have done them all since it first started – and one of the organizers told me this year, there were about 900 registered. I don’t know if they all showed up for race day, but per the results listing, most did as there were 831 listed race finishers. I arrived onsite with about an hour to go to start time and got a few pre-start photos.
ON THE COURSE: The start was inside the complex on a service road behind the stadium bleachers. We went out one of the stadium gates, through an adjacent parking lot and then proceeded to nearby Martin Luther King park. Once in the park, we proceeded on paved park trails to a turn-round point and then came back to the stadium the way we had gone out. Plenty of wooded areas surrounding the trails, so gave us a nice wind-break from that chilly wind. Once we got started, it was actually quite pleasant, so I was glad to have ditched my top layer shirt for the race, as I would have probably been too warm when I was moving. Along the route were several signs posted with quotes from various speeches and writings Dr. King had made. I ended up with a chip time of 35:36, 7th in my 60 – 69 age group – the top 3 in my age group all ran 7:30 – 8 minute miles; there are some real speedy folks in my Old Farts age group, lol.
After My Finish: That wind was still blowing, so once I stopped running, I got my nice dry and warm top layer shirt back on. I then enjoyed getting some post-race photos and chatting with several friends who were there and making new friends, and enjoying some of the post-race goodies.
EPILOGUE: As noted previously, I have done this event since it first started. It used to start and finish in Martin Luther King park, but the race outgrew that, as MLK Park, as far as parking facilities go, is a pretty small park. So adjacent Wheatley Heights is a wise choice. Plenty of parking there, but still close enough to MKL Park that we get to do a route through that park. Nice quality race shirt – I do so many races a year I have plenty of shirts, so I told one of the organizers to just donate my shirt to a kid – and lots of goodies at the race, including various fruits, hot coffee and hot chocolate, food truck on site, and so forth. Also, this event is kind of personal for me. My parents believed in equality for all and my mother – who worked for the Washington Post in DC – I grew up in the DC area- was very proactive in civil rights and a strong believer in the message of Dr. King, as I am now too. When I was in the Air Force, I was stationed a lot overseas – 18 of my 24 years – and in several of these locations, I was the minority. My mother drilled into my being to never look at WHAT a person is, but WHO a person is. That message stood me in good stead during my military years – and it still does now too – helping me to accept people for who they are, resulting in making many friends both nationally and internationally, and learning about ways of life I may have never know about if I had been more close-minded. I thank God every day for the parents I got; they helped me keep an open mind and learn so much. So I will continue do to this event not only because is it a darn good event, but also in honor of my late mother and father.
THANKS: MUCHO THANKS to all the people who made this one happen for us, including all our volunteers, sponsors and vendors; iaapweb for the course setup, timing, and results; the park police that were out there for us – I chatted post race with a couple of the officers – and anyone else I may not have mentioned here. Thank you for what you do so we participants can have this event.