The Curse of Mississippi
Mississippi is the worst state. Let me give you anecdotal evidence to scientifically prove my point.
Every time my team went to Mississippi in college, something bad happened.
In January 2010, we came back to Berry a few days before the semester started, so we could travel to Jackson, Mississippi for the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon. To date, this is the coldest race I’ve ever run. This is what I wore to packet pickup the day before:
It was 18 degrees at the start, and many of us pulled something during the race just from our muscles’ inability to warm up. Volunteers were furiously sweeping up the cast aside water cups on the course water stops since any remaining liquid immediately froze once it hit the ground, creating an icy patch for runners to cross. Teammates finished with their sweat frozen to their faces and had icicles in their hair. We huddled together wrapped in space blankets, happy to head back to the motel for hot showers.
Unfortunately some of the doors wouldn’t open when we got back. The rooms that were closest to the pool were the least protected from the cold temps, so the doors were frozen shut. This delayed our departure as it took maintenance almost an hour to get all of those doors open.
When we finally got on the road, we started planning activities for that evening. It was our teammate Taylor’s birthday, and Jackson back to Berry was only about 6 hours, so we had plenty of time for birthday festivities.
After some time on the road, there was some traffic on the interstate. I’m not sure how long we sat completely motionless on our Leisure Time charter bus before someone started investigating (this was pre-smartphone for me). There was a jackknifed tractor trailer a few miles ahead, and the whole interstate was shut down. With a wall of cars in front of us as well as behind us, there was nowhere to go.
We spent 3 hours sitting in the same spot. Despite the fatigue from the half marathon, knowing that we couldn’t move resulted in a fair amount of cabin fever. During those 3 hours, we fit Michael (a tall skinny runner, who would imagine we had one of those?) into the overhead baggage compartments, had a dance party, and wrapped Jacque up in toilet paper like a mummy (I decided against photos to protect the innocent).
All in all, we made it home, no one was hurt, and we were able to celebrate Taylor’s birthday the next day. This trip did make all of us a little suspicious of Mississippi, though.
The nail in the coffin for Mississippi came the next school year in the fall. We were going to a new cross country meet – the Brooks Memphis Twilight. This was exciting because it was a night race, and my aunt and uncle were living in Memphis at that time, so they could come to the race.
To get to Memphis, you have to go through Mississippi. We were in the middle of the state when the bus driver put on his hazards and pulled over to the shoulder of the interstate. Apparently some part of the roof of the bus near where his sun visor attached was broken. I to this day don’t believe it was stop-worthy, but safety first, I guess.
It quickly got very warm on the bus, so a lot of us ventured outside, just hanging out on the side of a major interstate. Thankfully it was wooded for the inevitable needs of well-hydrated runners.
After an hour or so, the bus driver let us know that another bus was on the way, and he needed to take this bus to a mechanic. We had to unload all of our stuff and watch the bus drive away (cough, fully functional, cough) and look like a group of matching homeless people.
Thankfully, our coach had the infinite wisdom to plan for an extremely early arrival, so we would have time to explore the city a little bit. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, we knew we should still make our races.
Finally, after another hour, a new bus showed up! Instead of the usual charter bus, it was a tour bus, and it had (allegedly) shuttled Jason Mraz around the night before. Happy to have a new means of transportation, we crammed into the new bus. Rather than the usual rows of seats, this bus has a few leather bench couches, so it was a tight fit for a group our sized with each person also having a duffle bag.
We made it to the race venue in just enough time to drop our stuff and get in a warmup. We cut it close for sure, no thanks to the traffic we encountered once we got into the city, but the night races were a success!
While these stories both have (eventual) happy endings, I still believe this offers definitive and objective evidence for Mississippi being the worst.