Nylia and I ditched the sub 0° Kentucky temperatures and made our way to the Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend in Birmingham, Alabama. The Mercedes-Benz events included a Regions Superhero 5K, full and half marathons, relay and a kid’s marathon.
There was more I wanted to learn about Birmingham after a quick passing on my way to Panama City Beach last November.
Our first stop as suggested by my friend Smitty was to take pictures with the rocket as soon as we crossed the Sweet Home Alabama state line. This attraction is also listed on the Roadside America website.
The expo was set to open at noon so I timed it perfectly to arrive at the Boutwell Auditorium shortly after. One thing I love about Birmingham is how laid back it is. The downtown traffic is nothing compared to other cities.
We went straight to the stage and picked up our race packets. I wanted to exchange my small shirt for a medium, but the shirt exchange only had small or XL. I registered the for the Mercedes Half on the last day it was available online and the only sizes left were XS, small and XL. Luckily I can fit the small, so it wasn’t a big deal. It was nice how the Regions 5K included a cape. Nylia had a Marvel Comics tank top but she liked the race shirt and cape combo better.
The expo consisted of 18 booths with a few products I have never seen such as a magnetic waist pouch from The Roo Sport and a hand band by HB Tune. The expo gave out a reusable hot and cold pack for visiting each booth. I purchased a few Bondi Bands to match my spring running gear.
One of the vendors wanted me to try on a pair of Altra Provision 2. They gave me a hat just for talking with them. The official merchandise area had bins of $2 men’s and children’s technical shirts. They were from previous events but still a good deal for layering and moisture wicking gear.
After a longer than expected packet pick up, we stopped in Nikis West for lunch. I already knew what to expect from online reviews. To make a long story short this cafeteria style, steam table restaurant has zero patience for customers walking through the line and not knowing what to order.
Nylia and I reviewed Friday’s menu before we walked in, because I can be so indecisive when given a ton of choices especially when cobblers and banana pudding are considered sides. I ended up with a meat and 4 instead of a meat and 3. Those terms are common for Birmingham restaurants.
All of the food we tasted was delicious. The three charter buses pulling into the parking lot as we were leaving provided further proof that Nikis West has some good food.
Sitting down on a full stomach is a no-no for me. We kept it moving and visited the State of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Alabama has produced some very notable athletes and coaches.
Nylia and I had free reign of the museum and the tour guide answered all of our questions. This educational experience would make up for the week of school she missed due to the weather.
My father is named after Joe Louis. I called my Grandma to ask why my Dad’s middle name was spelled Lewis instead of Louis. She replied, “I did the best I could at the time being 17 yrs old.”
It was my Grandpa’s idea to name my Dad after the boxer because he was listening to the Louis vs. Baer II fight. Louis won with a first round K.O. while my Grandma was in labor.
Right around the corner from the Sports Hall of Fame is the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Finally it was time to check into the hotel. The Sheraton and the Westin were the host hotels and closest to the starting line. We stayed at the Springhill Suites just 1.2 miles from the starting line. The location was perfect and the suite was very large. The hotel was not crowded and the location was perfect for everything I had planned.
Going H.A.M. in the ‘Ham