Over one thousand runners converged on downtown T-Town this morning to take on the inaugural Tuscaloosa Half Marathon and 1 mile Fun Run!

Rebuilding a city after an EF-4 tornado rips through leaving a mile wide path of destruction is no easy task. It’s organizations like Read Bama Read and The Kiwanis Club of Greater Tuscaloosa, the race beneficiaries that make a difference. It’s the over one thousand in attendance plus volunteers and city officials that make recovery just a little bit easier.

I arrived downtown this morning having heard meteorologists talk about Saturday morning snow in Tuscaloosa all week. Any other day I would have welcomed snow but this morning was a day I was thankful James Spann and his peers were a few counties off. The wind was whipping through each of us, dressed in our running gear. Whether it was running shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt or wind pants and a sweatshirt, we all felt the bitter 35 degree temps and 7 mile an hour winds. Once the race was underway, the temperature went up somewhat and sore legs and short breath quickly took precedence over frozen fingers.

We followed the path of the tornado, traveling down Greensboro and 15th Street to the heavily effected Rosedale community. We then turned off into the Forest Lake subdivision, through the Cedar Crest area and into Alberta where the bulk of destruction happened.  We were able to absorb the reason we were running. Every out of town runner who was not here on that dreadful day in April was able to see a bit of what we saw. Blank slabs, uprooted bare trees and vacant lots were a vivid reminder of what happened to our champion city. The race organizers should be commended for a relatively flat, fast race course and for putting a great deal of thought behind our scenic journey.

The trip ended in the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater to finisher medals, door prizes, barbeque sandwiches, beers and cheers! I’d have to say from this runners standpoint, today was a success. We put a few more bricks in the wall knocked down by Mother Nature on April 27, 2011. We banded together as a community and new friends to show we’re not going to be label as “the town that got blown away”.

Together with our Crimson Tide, we are a city of champions and each one of us proved that here today!

I even got to meet the Yogurt Mountain mascot!