Teddy Bear Picnic – The Magic City Half Marathon

I ran the Magic City Half Marathon for the fourth time the weekend before last, adding a little more than 5 and a half minutes to my time since I first ran it in 2015 despite the fact that this year’s new course seemed to be a lot flatter and faster than the previous route. The new route only includes one stadium, excluding Legions Field from the old course, but still finishes inside Regions Field near home plate which is my favorite feature of this race. There were a few features along the way that were not my favorite, like when I went to get my packet and they tried to tell me I was unable to get a shirt in my size because I “registered too late” (I registered on August 5th, more than 3 months prior to the event). I also was not a fan of catching up to the slowest of the 5K runners at around the halfway point and having to dodge them shortly before beginning a second loop on the same course, which I’m also not a fan of. I finished in 1:52:54 which was enough to beat the other old men in my age group. However the award ceremony for the half marathon was an hour and a half after my finish and I saw that the awards they were handing out were teddy bears. If there’s anything I need less than another race medal it’s a teddy bear, so after I sampled all the free food and drink they had at a pretty good post-race spread out near the picnic area of the stadium I decided to split and get an earlier start on my day.
When I got home I checked the website for the details of my placement and discovered that I had not just come in first in my age group but had won the “Senior Grand Masters” category. I then read that “the Magic City Half Marathon is the 2018 Alabama State Half Marathon Championship event. RRCA Champions will be crowned in the following categories: Overall Male / Female, Masters (40+), Grand Masters (50+) and Senior Grand Masters (60+)” Furthermore, the award for winning the Senior Grand Masters was not a teddy bear but a medal commemorating my apparent “State Championship” for the half marathon in this category. Now it’s true that I have bunches of race medals on a coat hanger in my closet and many others out there I never bothered to claim, but a medal for winning a State Championship – that I don’t have. And after reviewing the RRCA website it seems like the medal itself is the only record of having won this State Championship since there is no list of winners to be found. In fact I couldn’t even find any mention of this race

So who is the RRCA? According to the website the Road Runners Club of America is the oldest and largest national association of running organizations dedicated to growing the sport of running since 1958. The RRCA champions the development of community-based running clubs and events that serve runners of all ages and abilities in pursuit of health and competition. They do seem to offer a lot of resources for running clubs, but not a lot of information on who won which championships. Which is perfectly fine since I’m pretty sure I’m not the fastest over 60 half marathon runner in my neighborhood let alone in the entire state. But having a medal that says I am is still pretty cool so my wife and I spent a week or so trying to track it down, which we finally did yesterday with some welcome assistance from Jeremy Davis of Set Up Events. So now I’ll always know that RRCA considered me to be the Senior Grand Master State Half Marathon Champion in 2018, even if no-one else knows.
By the way The Teddy Bear’s Picnic is a song written by two people 25 years apart. John Walter Bratton, an American composer composed and copyrighted the melody in 1907 while James Kennedy, an Irish born songwriter added the lyrics in 1932. It’s been covered by numerous artists from Bing Crosby to Jerry Garcia.

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