Oh man oh man you guys, I have spent months waiting for this race. You see, the Shawshank Redemption is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time and it’s one of my dad’s favorite movies, too. Not only that, it was filmed here in Ohio at the Ohio State Reformatory down in Mansfield. I also used to work as a prison librarian, so naturally this movie holds a special place in my heart for lots of reasons. This means that as soon as I heard there was going to be a race themed around the film, I knew we had to sign up. Not only was this the first time my dad and I ran a race together, it was his first race ever!
Papa G. and I got into Mansfield Friday night. It was after packet pick up had closed for the evening, but we wanted to get a sense of where everything was so we drove over to the prison just to look around and then went to the hotel to check in. Because of the limited parking at the prison, we decided to wake up at 4:30 so we could get to the prison by 5 am for packet pick-up. Then we’d take our packets back to the hotel and try and get another hour or so of sleep before heading back in time for the 8:30 start time.
Picking up packets was fine, no problems, and after a brief cat nap we were up and ready and left our hotel a little after 7 am. I realized that we didn’t have safety pins and since Papa G. would have to park in the overflow lot and bus over and all of the race information said they would only have pick up open until 8 am, I suggested he just drop me off at the prison so I could be sure to get our safety pins and he could just come over a bit later on the bus.
So this is where things got a little….complicated. This was the first year for the race and so, of course, there were going to be logistical issues. In this case, they had way underestimated the amount of buses needed to get people from the overflow lot to the prison. The race was supposed to start at 8:30 but because they had so many people still waiting at the overflow lot they had to push the time back until 9 am (I’m pretty sure they kept packet pick up open so everyone who still needed to could get their stuff). Papa G. just made it in time — considering he dropped me off at 7:30 am, that says something about the amount of people. But it was okay because we knew we’d be in the back so it wasn’t a big deal that we weren’t in line when the race finally started.
For the first quarter mile all 3,000 participants were stuck to one lane so we had to walk for most of that distance because it was so crowded. But once we got off the main road and were able to spread out, the crowd thinned and we could pick up our pace a bit. I did my Galloway intervals while my dad jogged (his word; I of course would say he ran) the whole time.
I was wearing my podcast shirt and had multiple people come up from behind and tell me how much they liked it, so it was well worth the purchase. When I first posted the shirt, my friend Andrew asked why I had the logo on the back, who would read it? I said it would be read by the other people in the back of the pack and I was right.
The funny thing is, big themed races like this often bring out a lot of walkers. It actually reminded me of the Bernie Shuffle in that respect. This meant that our 1:22:45 finish time put us more in the middle of the pack than the back!
It is important to note that it was super hot during the race and starting half an hour later didn’t help. This is also one of those races where it’s very important to read the course map because it turns out Mansfield has way more hills than I had anticipated. Oof. But despite the heat and despite the hills, it was actually a pretty pleasant 4.6 mile run all things considered. The course took us from the prison into downtown Mansfield where certain movie scenes were filmed and then back to the prison.
After crossing the finish line we got our fancy medals (they glow in the dark!) and, of course, had to take a finisher’s photo in front of the prison. Being such big fans of the movie, it really was so very cool getting to participate in the inaugural Shawshank Hustle!
Our registration allowed us free entry into the prison on a tour but the line was so long and the bus line back to the overflow lot was not. Since we can use the free pass at a later date we decided to go back to the car and make the trek back home. I’m so glad we decided to do this race and so so proud of Papa G. for finishing his first race. On the way home he was talking about looking for other races to do so I think he’s caught the bug!
Love from the ashes,