RUNable Race Review: WellsFest
A Running Glance:
Things I loved
- Held in conjunction with the WellsFest music festival
- Unique hand-painted trophies
Things I less than loved
- Tough, challenging course -GREAT training!
Looking for some “Peace, love and music” with a little running first? Well, I’ve got just the 5k for you! Held the last Saturday in September each year, WellsFest is “Jackson’s Original Music Festival.” In its 36th year, WellsFest is still serving up a good time through food, fellowship and family-friendly fun. This year’s festivities kicked off with a 5k, pet parade, plant sale, nonstop music all day across two stages, a silent auction, the children’s area (with pony rides!) and more local vendors than you can shake a stick at.
Registration for the 5k was $30, but teams of 4-8 could catch a $5 break and participate for only $25 each. They also offered family-four-packs for $90. Plus, the money raised benefited Extra Table, a nonprofit organization committed to ending hunger in Mississippi by providing food pantries and soup kitchens with the healthy food they need to feed their communities. Since its inception, WellsFest has raised nearly $1.5 MILLION for LOCAL nonprofits. Talk about good vibes! Just wow! A huge thank you to Wells Church for all the good they do in our community and for continuing to use running to advocate on the local level.
This year’s shirt is my favorite design yet! First of all, the brand was “Comfort Colors” and just the softest 100% cotton t-shirt around. The last several designs have featured a beautiful watercolor image, and I was happy to see that this year they put the image on the front of the shirt. The gorgeous image they chose was of a “flower child” holding a peace sign, heart and music note to represent the festival’s slogan, #PeaceLoveAndMusic. I should also note that the back of the shirt was blank, which is basically a unicorn when it comes to race shirts. Most are littered with sponsor logos! Not WellsFest! This year’s shirt was pretty groovy.
The finish line itself offered water, Gatorade, cookies, and bananas. I was in a rush to make it over to the Pet Parade after the race, so I forgot to snag a pic. But allow me to set the scene for you: there was a table with two large coolers, a box of cookies and a box of bananas. Ha. It’s almost like you were there! Just across at the festival there were multiple food vendors, with lots of savory and sweet options for sale. My family and I grabbed some grub, threw down a blanket, and took in some of the sweet sounds WellsFest offered.
In lieu of traditional race medals or trophies, the WellsFest 5k offers ceramic shoes custom painted by members of The Mustard Seed, or “Seedsters,” as they’re called. The Mustard Seed is a local community created for adults with developmental disabilities. The organization’s mission is to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of all Seedsters by providing a loving and protected environment with meaningful activities. It is quite an honor to be awarded a medal with such an inspiring story behind it! I placed SECOND this year, earning my third-lifetime shoe. #Collector <Side note> This month’s RUNable $5 5k will benefit The Mustard Seed! Check out the event here and make plans to join us on October 24!
I liked that they moved the start line across the parking lot. This change put us much closer to the entrance of Jamie Fowler Boyll Park and much closer to all the ACTION! Packet pick-up tables were also stationed here pre-race, with plenty of helpful volunteers getting registrants checked in or signed up. This was the first year I’ve brought my little JRT Nora to the race. I did so with the intention of also entering her into the “Pet Parade” that began at 9:30 a.m. Another great change this year: they presented the awards from the “main stage,” and the “ceremony” just so happened to take place right as the parade was ending. Nora and I walked up just in time to snag our beautiful Mustard Seed treasure! We were very proud we placed second on our “middle-aged-lady” age group. (Nora is 42 in dog-years!)
This year’s route was similar to last year’s, the only change being the start/finish line was moved across the parking lot closer to the park. The route was otherwise the exact same as the “Watermelon Classic 5k” course. We start on Lakeland Drive and pass in front of the Ag Museum, then we take a right onto the I-55 frontage road, then a right into the Eastover subdivision. There’s quite a hill that greets you in Eastover! #HelloQuadBurner From there we continue straight, eventually taking a right onto Ridgewood Road. Participants then experience some serious elevation changes that continue when we FINALLY take another right back onto Lakeland Drive. To me, this is the toughest part of the course, because not only is it the “home stretch” so you’re pretty well spent, but there are several hills and direct sun exposure. Thankfully, it’s over pretty quick (or maybe you just blackout?) and before you know it, you’re finishing on the little road adjacent to Jamie Fowler Boyll Park in front of Smith Wills Stadium.
Course Difficulty: LEVEL 3
This 5k route is notoriously tough and definitely presents a challenging course. However, I always enjoy this race, and this year I was extra excited to have my favorite four-legged friend running with me. Even coming off a sinus infection and holding my lifetime membership card to the Sloth Running Club, I still managed a decent time and that glorious runner’s high that comes – when you’re done!
There were two water stops along the way with plenty of friendly volunteers handing out H20 and an encouraging word.
Again, the start/finish line change was great! We were able to leave our car in the museum parking lot and immediately cross the little wooden bridge into the park for the festival. Nora and I had fun participating in the pet parade too. It was clearly rigged, we were both dressed like Wonder Woman and didn’t win “Best in Show,” “Best Dressed,” or “Cutest.” Now, I understand why we didn’t win “Most Congenial!” (Nora can be a grouch, sometimes. Not me, I’m always a ray of sunshine! Ha.) The award for most agreeable went to the fella ironically dressed as a jailbird! All the pets were adorable, and it was fun to see everyone dressed up.
Wells Church: thanks again for a race “WELL-done,” and for all that you do for our community! I also commend your partnership choices. MS Race Timing is one of the best local timing companies, and of course, if you don’t have Jack Ward from the Mississippi Track Club talking you through the finish line on his bullhorn, is it even a 5k? Not to this runner! <3 I’ve already got WellsFest 2020 on my calendar for next year. Until then: peace, love, music … and RUNNING.