The St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend is always one of my favorite events of the year for a number of reasons. The weekend starts with the expo opening on Thursday & Friday, then the Heroes Pasta Party Dinner on Friday night. The dinner party is by far my favorite part of the weekend. I would make the trip just for the dinner even if there wasn’t a race.
Brooklyn & I drove up to Memphis Friday morning. It is about a 5 hour drive from our house. After stopping for lunch with my training partner Pittman & his family in Southaven we made our way to the convention center for the marathon expo. This expo is always well organized. You enter the convention center and take an escalator up to the second floor where you enter the expo hall. The first thing you walk into is bib pickup. Pickup is a quick process as long as you know your bib number. Simply walk up to the table with your corresponding number range and receive your bib. The next table held all race shirts and gear check bags. The flow of the people then leads to Heroes check in where fundraisers could pick up gift vouchers, pasta party tickets, parking passes, lounge bracelets, and any other incentives. Then came the official St. Jude merchandise area. The selection has significantly grown over the last 3 years, but I feel like a little influence from runDisney merchandise keepsakes could go along way here in providing variety. We picked up a few St. Jude 26.2 & 13.1 Christmas tree ornaments and a t-shirt and made our way to the main expo floor.
The expo featured several race shops, local foods, running gear, area races, artwork, and medal hangers. It’s incredibly well rounded with plenty to do for everyone. We spent a little over 3 hours walking through the expo hall visiting with friends and learning about new products. A local Ford dealership had a car with all of the Heroes’ names on it.
After a few hours at the expo we made our way to stand in line to get into the Heroes Pasta Party. I’m always late to this line and end up sitting in the very back of the dining hall, this year I was over an hour early and got a seat all the way in the front behind the team tables. If you are planning on running this race, fundraisers & go to this event! It is incredible. The food is always great, but the stories are the best part. To sit and talk to other heroes about their fundraising journeys and learn why and how they got involved with St. Jude is always great. More importantly, meeting and hearing stories of St. Jude patients and their families is the most heartfelt and emotional parts of my year. This is the reason I hope to never miss this race event weekend. It’s a party atmosphere where everyone is celebrating life and the ability to help children continue living thanks to fundraising efforts.
Danny Thomas was the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and his outlook on fundraising and reaching out to people is monumental to me. He stated that he would rather receive $1 donation from a million people than to receive a $1,000,000 from one person. The money is always overwhelming no matter the amount, but it’s the outreach to people that can make a real difference.