VOL. 6 | NO. 51 | Saturday, December 14, 2013
Editorial: Let City’s Sports Shine On Marathon Weekend
A bit of ice that resulted in the cancellation of the St. Jude Memphis marathon led to one of those rare chapters in the history of a city that has moderate winters.
On the Saturday morning that there wasn’t supposed to be a marathon, there was one. Runners and their families and supporters showed up in below freezing temperatures to run the streets of the city where St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was founded by Danny Thomas more than 50 years ago.
Some were Memphians. Some were runners who travel the marathon circuit as best as an amateur athlete with a family and a day job can. Still others were those personally touched by the global reach of St. Jude’s mission.
They did what Memphis athletes have done throughout the city’s unique sports heritage; they competed in the highest spirit and calling of amateur athletics. As a result, the ice runners are a new chapter in the ongoing history of Memphis sports.
That is why we think it is time for the “Memphis” brand to become more prominent in an expansion of the event.
The event’s formal name is the St. Jude Memphis Marathon already and that should not change.
Those coming to Memphis should not forget that this is an event for the benefit of St. Jude.
And we believe that because the city and the hospital are so closely linked there is little risk that the purpose of the race will be forgotten especially when you consider what happened when this year’s marathon and other races were formally canceled.
Graceland offered a discount. So did the Memphis Grizzlies, who were playing that evening in what was a busy Saturday at FedExForum. The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art offered free admission.
In those moments we have the makings of a foundation for a marathon weekend that should expand greatly to a host of other citywide events that highlight Memphis as well as St. Jude.
The marathon is an opportunity to put the spotlight on the city’s utterly unique sports heritage and history from the city’s running and bicycling communities to the marathon’s proximity on the calendar to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl football classic on New Year’s Eve and beyond.
A fuller marathon weekend brings in those who haven’t tried a marathon but are increasingly drawn by the running culture to think about it. It also lets them know Memphis is not a place to come once a year for that culture.
The different marathon events that come our way just before Christmas should be the centerpiece in a broader celebration with a purpose that does what the hospital that is the cause at the core of all of this has been doing all along – make the city a beacon of hope and possibilities in the coming season of hope that takes us all into a new year with a stronger resolve.