St. Jude Marathon Runners Brace For Winter Weather Storm

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(Memphis) Two days before the big race and Kelly Ogden is optimistic as she picks up her registration packet for this year's St. Jude Marathon.

She's been watching the weather and isn't deterred, though she knows it will be cold.

"Layering. I have thermal shirts to wear and lots of layers. So I am just praying everyone thinks about that and stays as warm as they can," says Ogden.

Winter weather can mean big problems for 20,000 runners.

It's why race officials plan to go out around 3 a.m. Saturday with street crews to give the roads a final look.

"If streets are icy, yeah, that's one concern and we'll have to see how we are gonna deal with that and how we will handle it," said race director Wain Rubenstein.

He says it will take something really extreme for them to call off the race.

"We're planning on having the event. It will be cold, but the thought of cancellation is not even in question," said Rubenstein.

For runners who have waited for this, they plan to be there without question.

"I don't think it's gonna get as bad as they are predicting. We are gonna participate. We are going to wrap up and we are going. We are going," said first time racer Tijuana Nichols.

Plenty of people are going for the warm gear since temperatures are expected to be frigid, but runners say they won't need it long.

"It starts out cold, but then I think you either get numb or you warm up," said race participant Dawn Hilliard.

Still in the back of runners' minds is what mother nature may be planning.

"Yeah it's concerning with the potential of ice coming. It's definitely hard on runners, but even more so getting to the event will be difficult if the roads are covered with ice," said  Josh Giannini of Germantown.

Race organizers also plan to have warming stations, including buses on stand-by in case runners or volunteers need to get warm.

They will make contact through social media to give updates on race conditions for Saturday morning.

They say, right now, it's full speed ahead for the St. Jude Marathon.


  • Michael

    No once cares that it will be cold for the marathon. All of us who signed up for a December marathon knew that it might be cold. The danger is in the thousands of people who will have to drive to downtown Memphis at dawn on Sat. morning. That’s where the danger would be if there are icy streets. I wish they wouldn’t emphasize so much the cold temps for the run. That’s not the point.

  • Kimberley Monroe

    What’s wrong with re-scheduling the marathon for the following weekend. What is more important: the weather conditions or the safety of the runners traveling to the downtown area of Memphis? The other drivers already don’t pay attention to their driving when it is raining. So what do you think they would do when it is icy? Would it cause a problem to move it to the following weekend?

  • Ashley

    I would rather see it cancelled (which I don’t want to see at all) than move it to the next weekend. This is no 5K. This is a huge event with more going on than just running. You have TONS of volunteers and runners that must rearrange their schedules. You may not have enough volunteers. You have to reschedule all the road closings again, and the police, medical and food venders that will be there. It would be too much to reschedule.

  • Mary

    I think it is insane that the officials are waiting until 5:00 am the day of the race to decide if they are going to cancel it or not. They need to think about the safety of the runners as far as traveling goes and if they get there and run, the safety of them slipping, falling and potentially breaking a bone or cracking open their head. I mean come on people use some common sense and think about others. My husband and a couple of our friends are planning on driving in today from the Little Rock area and its bad here now, all because the officials can’t decide based on what everyone else is getting in the surrounding cities if they are going to cancel it or not.

  • shellie

    i know this is an awesome weekend for St Jude… all of the participants have raised money, prepared etc…. however…. i am the parent of a runner and we are attempting to drive from Vicksburg to Memphis. we are not seasoned ice drivers and i am a nervous wreck. i think the danger lies in people getting there… not the run itself and i think it would be wise to cancel. i am sorry but that is how I feel. we are going to attempt to get there but if we run into really ice conditions, hear that there is no power, etc., we will turn around and come home. i think you need to consider the travelers….. i know the runners would run in blizzards, but this is for those traveling to get there… it is NOT SAFE

  • Turk

    Travelers don’t have to come though if they feel it is unsafe from wherever they are traveling….and I’d hope their family members would understand. I’d hate for it to be cancelled so those who have trained for months would have to adjust. It would be heartbreaking. It’s not like you can just up and participate in a marathon anytime. It’s a lot of preparation.

  • JL

    I came in from Colorado for this. I’m used to driving and running in snow and ice and cold. If you’re worried about your own safety, just stay home. That’s fewer people for me to have to jostle with. But PLEASE don’t cancel the race. If anything, set the time back a couple of hours. Sounds like the rest of the city will be closed down anyway.

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