I don’t typically enter “theme” races. Despite that, I was very excited about the inaugural Shawshank Hustle held in Mansfield, OH July 25 at the prison where the movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed.
The 4.6-mile race started and ended at the old Ohio State Reformatory. The course winds through Mansfield and includes several sites that appear in the movie including Brooks’ bench. There was a generous 2-hour time limit. I believe the funds raised go toward preservation of the prison.
There was limited parking at the race start with maybe 2,700 of the 3,000 entrants required to rely on shuttles. My friends and I have an aversion to races that require shuttles, so we arrived close to 6:00 a.m. to have the best chance of parking in that closest lot. Turns out that lot filled up within 30 min of our arrival.
There was a party atmosphere before the race! Great music played while athletes walked around taking pictures of the prison. A costume contest showed how creative some people can be. And an announcer kept us entertained by leading us in a group dance as well as keeping everyone informed.
Shortly after 8:00 a.m., he announced the race would start 15 min late because of issues with the shuttles. Within a couple of minutes we were told the delay would actually be half an hour, making the start time 9:00. This was disappointing, but if the problem was the race’s fault (I don’t know), it was probably the right decision.
After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, the race started and one huge mass of people crowded together to cross the start line. It was slow going with fast runners mixed in with people pushing strollers and very slow walkers holding hands blocking faster people. But this is very common for “races” that are really more “events”.
As we crossed the starting line, buses were still arriving with athletes.
Because of the start delay, and the fact the race was in July, the temperatures rose quickly. The sun was bright and it got hot. Being Mansfield, OH, there were also a couple hills that added to the challenge.
Luckily most of my group had decided to do this race for fun, not speed. After all, how many 4.6-mile races are there? No matter how I finished, it would be a PR.
As we walked the course which follows part of the Shawshank Trail, there were signs indicating sites that appeared in the movie. Many people stopped to take pictures. It was fun.
The first water station was about 2 miles into the race. The people working it were having a very hard time keeping up! I was somewhat in the middle of the pack, and there were still a good thousand people behind me.
The second water station was only 0.6 miles after the first. I almost skipped it because it was so close, but at the last minute didn’t. Thank goodness I took that water! Those were the only two water stations on the course. So as the the temperatures rose, and we lost what little shade there was, there was no water for more than 2 miles. If I had really read the pre-race information I would have known where the water was and would have opted to carry some with me.
As we approached the prison to the finish, we could hear the music playing from pretty far away and the announcer called off the names of finishers as they crossed. Deb and I were just a couple minutes behind the rest of our friends, and we could hear their names as we approached.
We received our medals, and there was plenty of water and food: bananas, apples, chips, nut mix, protein drinks and more.
The race swag included a tour of the prison and a ride on the historic Richland Carrousel. Seeing the prison is the whole reason to do the race, right? So, after a short rest, we took the tour. There were signs throughout indicating what the rooms were used for both in real prison life and in the movie. We then drove to ride the carrousel. They were both great!
The race shirts are a black technical fabric available in gender-specific sizes, the design features the front of the prison, and both the shirt and medal glow in the dark.
Though there were glitches, this was a pretty good inaugural event. People enjoyed the costume contest and the tour of the prison was awesome. And if you are a fan of the movie, you will probably love the race regardless.
The sports management company that put on the Shawshank Hustle is Rocketship Sports, a not for profit corporation dedicated to promoting high quality athletic events and group fitness activities.
What sets them apart is that this is a hobby for all of the directors. Rocketship Sports does not pay a salary to anyone — they are all volunteers. The company is a true 501c3 not for profit corporation. Any income earned from the events is put back into the organization to purchase additional equipment. The volunteer crew includes everyone from an ex-professional cyclist to sports agents, runners to triathletes, engineers to bankers, marketing specialist to artists, all with years of experience in sport and business.
You can contact Roger Bowersock at 937 417 5772 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (1175)