This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Mississippi was my 20th state.
Like most people, I had never ran through the grounds of a Space Center, that is until November 2010 when I ran the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon. This race is on the grounds of the John C. Stennis Space Center in Gulfport. When I ran it, there were about 500 runners for the marathon, half marathon, and 5K so it was a smaller crowd for sure. The race director Leonard Vergunst actually ran and won the marathon that year.
The course was a bit of a let-down for me because I was hoping it would be more scenic and have more rockets or space-related things to look at than there were. I struggled with multiple injuries in the months leading up to the race so my time was much slower than for previous races. One injury I had that was non-running related was an inflamed rib. My young daughter had accidentally kicked me in the ribs one evening when she was getting ready for bed, and I had pain from that for several months when I ran.
This race is held Thanksgiving weekend every year so the weather is typically good for long distance racing but it can get a bit cold especially when you’re outside waiting for the start. When I ran it, the temperatures should have been in the 50’s but a cold front just rolled through the area the previous day so it was about 10 degrees cooler than it should have been. Fortunately I brought a running jacket, hat, and gloves just in case and was fine.
My family and I had fun hanging out in Gulfport for a few days after the race. It’s a pretty small, low-key area good for a quiet and relaxing long weekend. If you have young children, I recommend checking out Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, a hands-on children’s museum. Gulfport is only about an hour and a half drive from New Orleans if you want to squeeze in an adventure there.
From my post-race notes:
“Ran inside grounds of Stennis Space Center, but didn’t see much in the way of rockets along the course (only once at the main visitor building). Was in the 40’s for most of the race, due to a cold front that moved in the day before the race. Course was flat and had good aid stations but zero spectators except for volunteers. Long-sleeve t-shirt was nice, but I received last year’s medal! Emailed the director (he said half marathoners weren’t supposed to get medals but they had some leftover from the previous year and decided to give them to half’ers instead of throwing them out). Had multiple injuries (inflamed rib, ITBS on one leg, tendonitis on other knee) so time was slow- was happy to finish. Finish time was 2:32:50.”