Why YOU Should Run in the Arkansas Grand Prix Series

Why YOU Should Run in the Arkansas Grand Prix Series

If you like to run and you live in Arkansas then this post is for you. 

For years I heard about something called the Grand Prix Series but I had no idea what it meant or what you had to do to be in it.  Most of the time when I heard the words “Grand Prix” my initial thoughts involved Mario cart or race cars.  What was the big deal?  I liked to run and I considered myself a fairly competitive runner so why should I join a running series?

Last year I decided to bite the bullet and see what all the hype was about for myself.  I knew it had something to do with running certain races and trying to earn points for them based on finishing place.  I did a little reading on the Arkansas Grand Prix website and here are a few basic things you need to know about competing in the AR Grand Prix series:

  • You need to be a member of an Arkansas RRCA (Road Runner’s Club of America) running club to participate.
  • You need to run in at least 5 of the 20 races on the yearly Grand Prix racing calendar.
  • Your score from your 5 best championship races (there are 10 championship races total) and your 5 best non-championship races (there are 10 non-championship races total) make up your total number of points for the year. (You get a certain number of points depending on how you place compared to other GP runners overall or in your age group.)

Last year the city I live in didn’t have its own team so I joined up with the nearest team- the Cabot Cruisers.  They were always very friendly and included me in all club correspondence, pre-race club pictures and would cheer and encourage me during races.  I cannot say enough good things about this club.  

With some of the Cabot Cruisers and I before the River Trail 15K

My goal for my first year in the Grand Prix was to run in ten races.  I wanted to have five championship races and five non-championship races.  Unfortunately, I struggled with plantar fasciitis the better part of the year and didn’t quite make my goal but I came very close.  I ended the year with a total of nine Grand Prix races: four championship and five non-championship races. 

My city now has an official RRCA club and I am looking forward to being able to race and compete as a member of the Searcy Rush in 2015.  Once again my goal will be able to run in at least ten GP races this year.  Running in the Arkansas Grand Prix has truly changed the way I view local racing and has added a new sense of purpose, competition and excitement to my racing schedule.

You might be asking yourself, why should I run in the Grand Prix series?  Below are just a few reasons that come to mind:

1.  To support and promote running in your local community.  I like traveling to big and exciting races just as much as the next runner but there’s something special about getting to know local runners and competing with them in various racing distances month after month.  Most of the times the money generated from these local races goes to support local causes and it’s one of the best ways to get involved and give back to the community.  I’ve also been able to travel to some new places and experience them in a different way. When I think of Benton, Arkansas now I think about a challenging 20k and how it was the turning point in my training last fall.  Hot Springs isn’t just a vacation getaway anymore- it’s a 10k and Pine Bluff is home to the fastest half marathon in the state.  When I think of these cities I am glad I was able to experience them as a runner.

Benton 20k- Photo Courtesy of David Meroney

2.  It’s close to home, affordable and family friendly!  With races all over the state you can look at the calendar and choose one nearby so traveling to and from the race doesn’t tie up the entire day.  Many times we’ve made it a family event.  When you race often (like I do) registration fees add up quickly.  One of my favorite things about the Grand Prix Series is the price of the races. Some of the GP races offer youth runner or family rates which is very nice since my kids are starting to enjoy racing.  Grand Prix race entry fees tend to range from $15-35 dollars. (With $35 being for the full or half marathon distance.)  This is much better than some of the registration prices for other races.

My daughter and I after the Capital City 10K
My younger 3 children ran in the free Kids Dash after the 10k

3.  To get to know other runners.  I used to feel like I was often alone when it came to racing.  Occasionally someone I knew would race with me but many times I would head to the starting line of a race not knowing a soul.  This past year I have been able to get to know many other local area runners.  We don’t train together but it’s always comforting to see a familiar face to help ease some of the pre-race jitters. There are a few runners that I have an idea how they typically finish (time-wise) so it gives me a good idea of how to pace and position myself in a race.

Ron crushes me every time but I’ve learned from racing him.
So glad I’ve been able to get to know Beverly through running.  We catch up whenever I see her at a race.

4.  To push yourself and grow as a runner.  So many times runners get stuck in a rut training for the same distance year after year.  The Grand Prix racing calendar offers a little bit of everything.  There’s the famous Go Mile! one mile race in Little Rock in June and a full marathon in Wynne in November.  The other 18 races on the calendar are a mixture of every racing distance in between!  I used to hate the 10k distance but the Capital City Classic 10k in Little Rock completely changed the way I run them now.  Yes, I still love the marathon distance but racing some of these shorter distances has made me a better runner.

There’s nothing quite like sprinting an all-out mile!

5.  To place and earn points. We all know that runners are competitive people. If there’s a game or contest involved we are there!  Points are tallied after every Grand Prix race.  By running in Grand Prix races you can earn points individually as well as towards your club team’s score.  There are team awards, overall awards, age group awards and there’s even an award for those who participate in all 20 Grand Prix races! 

2014 Grand Prix Iron Runners. Photo courtesy of Arkansas Grand Prix

It’s a new year and the 2015 Arkansas Grand Prix Series calendar is ready and posted.  If you are on the fence about joining I would urge you to give it a try.  Registration for the year is $15 for an adult and $10 for youth runners 18 and younger.  More information can be found on the Arkansas RRCA website.

*This post was not sponsored in any way by the Arkansas RRCA.  I’ve had several questions about it from local and non-local runners on my blog so I thought it might be helpful to write about it here.

8 thoughts on “Why YOU Should Run in the Arkansas Grand Prix Series

  1. The New Orleans Track Club has a grand prix, too – but it’s mostly the races I don’t run. Only a few are races I really love, like the Greek Fest 5k. So the best I’ve done is 2nd for my age group.

    1. The Greek Fest 5k sounds fun! I think I’ve read a recap of yours from that. This series has such a variety and there are some plain hard ones! It did add a little extra incentive to run in some of the hard ones!

  2. This is really awesome! I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about the Arkansas Grand Prix except that it existed…..but your post encouraged me to check it out! I’m up in Fayetteville, let me know if you are planning on the Hogeye or any of the races in the northern part of the state!

  3. That’s such a great idea. I’ve never heard of it before and we certainly don’t have anything like it here in Aus but I’d definitely be interested if it were to start up.

  4. Really cool, and awesome that you support local running. We’ve raced a few times in Arkansas, and even though I’m not a huge fan of the Little Rock Marathon organizers, we LOVE the city of Little Rock.

    1. Yes, I can definitely understand that give n the circumstances last year. If you ever want to run a really good marathon in AR I would recommend the 3 Bridges Marathon in December in Little Rock. It’s where I had my first sub 3 and it’s a great race!

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