RUNable Race Review: Ainsley’s Angels Cannonball Roll 5k (2019)
A Running Glance:
Things I loved
- Message of inclusion
- Raymond Country Fair on the Square
- Fun finish line atmosphere
Things I less than loved
- Missed a turn on-course #DirectionallyChallenged
Allow me to give you a brief (for me) overview of Ainsley’s Angels. Ainsley Rossiter, suffering from a nervous system disorder, went for her first run in 2008 pushed in a wheelchair by her father. Though she could not communicate verbally, her family immediately knew that they had found something she loved. Her dad said, “The second that the wind would hit her face, it would light up. I’ll never forget seeing her beautiful smile as we’re rolling and being free. You could just see the pure joy. It was very special. There was never a doubt that that was something that she truly enjoyed—that’s what drove us to keep doing it.”
The Rossiter family’s experience running with Ainsley was so life-changing that they felt compelled to share it with others, which is what sparked the creation of Ainsley’s Angels of America. The organization now has chapters in 60 cities and 30 states. It has also established a six-race series that helps provide chairs to those who need them, and runners to push those chairs, if necessary. Ainsley — whose love of running ultimately brought the joy of the sport to thousands of others with special needs – has left a lasting legacy of love and inclusion. What an inspiration she is to me and to so many others.
I said this in last year’s review, and I have to say it again: I LOVE AINSLEY’S ANGELS SO MUCH. This organization and what they stand for really gets me in the feels! They roll (literally) by the mantra that EVERYONE should be included. They believe that by ensuring that every single person can participate in endurance events, they can raise awareness about the special-needs community. <3 This message of inclusion is one that lands so closely to the foundation RUNable was built on. I believe quite strongly that everyone should have the opportunity to be included in this sport.
The average 5k price is around $25, but I’ve noticed more and more $30 races popping up, so maybe this is the new norm. Again, I love this organization, so knowing that I’ve thrown in a couple extra bucks to a cause I truly believe in, well … that’s what charity races are all about! $30 isn’t too high a cost for inclusion.
Check out the video below that features clips from AA races taking place all across America on Saturday, August 31, 2019, including the Cannonball Roll in Raymond. At about 1:15, you might recognize the voice of the country-est, most southern “Angel Runner” you’ve evaah heard.
The t-shirt was “Gildan Soft Style Ring Spun” 100% cotton, which is among my favorite styles because of its lightweight feel. The color this year was a pastel shade of green, which I thought contrasted well with AA’s signature pink. However, I do have to point something out to you!! LOOK WHOSE LOGO MADE THE BACK OF THE SHIRT!!! That’s right! You’re favorite RUNable friend, that’s who! This was my very first time to see my logo on the back of race shirt as a “sponsor” and I’m not sure if you can tell, but it was REALLY exciting! The Central Mississippi Chapter of AA was so very kind and generous to include RUNable. I probably would have gotten a great big kick out of seeing my logo on any shirt, but the fact that it’s an AA shirt really sent me over the moon. Thank y’all!!
The finish line had a great atmosphere with lots of spectators welcoming 23 angel riders and countless angel runners as they crossed that finish line. There were also volunteers making snow-cones for participants!
The medal had a custom created ribbon with what I call a “pop-out” blank insert medallion that can be personalized with race-specific logos. The customizable piece features the AA logo with a little Raymond flair. If you look closely, you’ll see the famous Raymond Water Tower featured in the center of the medal. The age group awards were wooden engraved pieces that sported the AA logo on the left and the race date and name on the right. I actually placed third in my AG, but I accidentally ran with my boyfriend’s bib instead of my own! There’s a first time for everything, people. More on that later.
There were lots of volunteers on course as well as at PPU. Everyone was extra friendly and cheerful. This race really has a lot of heart, and it’s impossible to witness so much inspiration and not have a smile on your face. The start/finish was adjacent to the Raymond Courthouse, and the course wound participants through the campus of Hinds Community College. The HCC Cheerleaders made a special appearance this year and were on hand to pass out medals to finishers, and they even performed a couple of stunts!
Once we embarked from the start line in front of the Raymond Courthouse, the intended route ran through several neighborhoods in addition to the aforementioned section of the HCC campus. I’m still not exactly sure what happened, but I believe I missed a turn somewhere at the beginning of the race. If you read my reviews regularly, then you’ve heard me mention that I’m “directionally challenged” on more than one occasion. For this reason, I never even bother to look at course maps because the information conveyed on a map is meaningless to me, lol. I’m also the “World’s Okayest Runner” so I always play “Follow the Leader,” which usually works out just fine for me. I’m not fast enough to ever have to make any decisions on which way to go, I just follow the person in front of me. Well for the first time in my 6 years of road-racing, this practice proved unsuccessful! I was completely oblivious of my mistake until the last stretch of the course when I turned onto Main Street and spied the signature pink AA arch. I glanced down at my watch, and according to my Garmin, I had about ¾ of a mile before I would reach the 5k distance. But judging from the looks of that bright pink arch, I was much closer than ¾ of a mile! Not only did I cut the course, but many others did as well. I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t run a full 3.1 miles, and even more surprised when I checked the race results the next day and didn’t see my name! I had mentioned to the race director and timing company what happened, so I thought maybe they pulled my name from the finished results. But in perusing the list, I was ever more shocked when I saw my boyfriend’s name!! He had been called into work at the last minute and hadn’t attended … that’s when I realized … not only did I cut nearly ½ mile off the course, but I ran with someone else’s bib! Wow, y’all. I’ve probably run hundreds of 5ks over the years, and this is the first time that either of these things has ever happened. I committed not one but TWO race faux pas at the same time!! <face palm>
Course Difficulty: LEVEL 2.5
The course itself had several inclines and hills and, it was a warm morning in beautiful Raymond, Mississippi. This combination earned this route a mid-level difficulty grade.
There were several aid stations on course with encouraging volunteers offering water and cheering us through. If only they would have offered directions, haha. I also delighted in the cutesy little porta-potty set up. Look, when you’re the kind of person that runs for fun, you have to learn to find joy in the little things along the way, right? 🙂
There was plenty of parking at the different businesses along and around Main Street. I actually pulled my little Subaru into a nice shady spot at the post office, not more than a block or two from PPU. The Raymond Country Fair on the Square sponsored by the Raymond Chamber of Commerce was set up just under the famous Raymond Water Tower. The fair hosted food & craft vendors, live music, a children’s play area, and much more. I even caught a special performance by the Hinds Hi-Steppers after the race.
The sweet ladies who organize this race every year truly put their heart into not only the event itself but the Central Mississippi AA Chapter. They live out loud every single day with AA’s message of inclusion at the forefront. What a very special group of people they are! I’d also like to offer some words of appreciation to one of the hardest working men in the tough business of race timing: Mr. Rob Oates with SISU Race Timing. Rob’s a great guy and a genuine friend. Without fail, SISU has continued to support RUNable’s monthly $5 5k, and Rob really uses his blessings and talents to give back to the community. Thank you Rob & SISU! If you ever find yourself in need of a race timer or are looking for someone to help you organize a race, Rob is your guy.
“Finishing” Thoughts …
Ainsley’s Angels is such a worthwhile cause. If you haven’t yet, follow them on Facebook and visit them online. You can learn more about the precious young girl behind the creation of this group, and find out how you can get more involved! It’s easy to sign up to be an angel runner and help some of these athlete riders #RollWithTheWind! I would absolutely recommend that you add this event to your calendar for next year. Racing alongside the likes of these phenomenal athletes and angels will be an experience you won’t soon forget. I hope to see you in Raymond in 2020. #TogetherWeShall