I’m a huge NASCAR fan and when I discovered there was a 5k to run through the light display at Atlanta Motor Speedway, I knew I had to do this. I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to be able to run on the track. Speedway Children’s Charities was the beneficiary so this race got even better. Because of the light display being part of the course, I asked the kiddo if she wanted to do the race with me and she wanted to. I would not be running much of this race and I was okay with that. The race had to be a day of decision based on how the Christmas parade for Girl Scouts went. Luckily it was a go and we rolled into the track around 4pm. A few wrong turns had us out off of turn one and turn two where I learned there is a graveyard on track property. How did I not know about this? After finally figuring out where to go at the track, we headed into the turn three tunnel and parked near the Xfinity garage. We got signed up quickly and the kiddo was handed her shirt that is really a long dress in her.
After a trip back to the car to drop off shirts and on bibs, we headed back to the warmth of the Xfinity garage to avoid the bit of a shower that developed. After a visit to a real restroom, the kiddo wrote her letter to Santa and dropped it off for delivery to the North Pole. She also did some coloring and soon we were lining up outside ready to do 3.1 miles through the light display. After a short delay, we were off and doing some running. The route led us out the turn three tunnel, likely one of the last times we will see a Sprint logo there, and outside the track heading the long way to turn four. This was by far the most boring part of the course as there were no lights outside of the track. We finally turned into the track by the main ticket office and saw mile 1 and lights at long last. We continued into the track grandstands and walked the lights through the Earnhardt, Champions and Winners grandstands. At one point, I noticed we were crossing a checkered line and I realized that it meant we were passing the track’s start-finish line. Ten plus years of going to AMS and I learned something new. Our favorite lights under the grandstands were penguin land.
Here’s where course craziness comes in. We had two runners “lap” us and I was struggling to see how the course could involve laps as we were past halfway. As we continued on, we would realize they made a wrong turn somewhere. At the end of the grandstands, we could overlook the track and infield and see all the people way ahead of us zooming around the lights inside. The best part was the uphills were behind us as we just had to go down a ramp and then another downhill into the tunnel. There were some great light displays in this section, but sadly the graveyard was not part of the display, though. As we were headed into the tunnel (and completing mile two), it dawned on me that the light displays were of things from The Twelve Days of Christmas. And a light sprinkle of rain started in this time. Did I mention I was with a six year old who was getting cranky?
Crankiness did not help when the course led into an area with no lights where darkness had descended. And the people just behind of us decided to cut that off the course. I told the kid there was no giving up and I even carried her via piggy back for a good tenth of that final mile. By this time, I was pretty sure only two people were left behind us. We made it through the dark and back to the lights and I could see they had let cars into the light display, but a pace vehicle was keeping us from being lapped. I also didn’t want to finish last, so I encouraged the shortest tangent through the infield road course and someone was still cold and cranky by the time we walked past pit road and onto the track. It was starting to rain a little harder by this time, but aside from walking across in infield grass in the dark, there wasn’t much of a course cutting option at this point, so we just kept moving. I loved getting to look at AMS’s wonderful track surface that leads to some amazing racing and I hope they have no plans to repave any time soon.
I did stop for a start finish line selfie and we stayed ahead of the last two people. By the time we made the turn to go back to the garage, the rain was coming down harder, but the girl did not want to run to the end. We had a good amount of people cheering her on, but we walked. And did not finish last! After getting our banana and water, the girl got her post race reward of making sand art and she had fun making a butterfly of different colors.
Despite the wet conditions, this was a fun race and the village was a fun thing to experience since we only did the lights a couple of years ago. I may have to do this race on m own next year just to really see if the course runs as flat as it felt. I know The Color Run felt pretty flat, too. Hills are early and I love getting them out of the way early. Despite the cranky, she said she had fun, so the lights and other fun stuff made up for it. Hopefully the next mother-daughter race will be a shorter course for the sake of the girl. I know I enjoyed this race a lot.