Photos by OHventures
We all know and love the famed Ohio Reformatory. We've visited this historic now-defunct prison on numerous occasions before. We've seen it as a haunted house, and we have been on a tour to learn about all the movie secrets from when the Shawshank Redemption was filmed here after the prison closed in the early '90s. Now, we are visiting this famous Ohio landmark for a different reason: a 7K race called The Shawshank Hustle, which took place on June 11, 2016.
It is always an incredible sight to see this castle-like structure up close and personal, but it is even more incredible to see this architectural masterpiece with thousands of runners lining up for a race!
It was a clear, beautiful morning in Mansfield, but the problem for myself (and likely many others) was the heat! I am not sure how hot it was during our run, but the high that day was 90 degrees! This heat would definitely be a factor in my less than stellar performance in the 7K!
My trusty running partner, Matt, and I arrived that morning. After a few issues with road detours and long lines of cars for parking, we picked up our packets and explored the exterior of the Ohio State Reformatory. There were fun elements set up, like mock prison bars (pictured above), and a large metal gate (pictured below) that we climbed on for a photo!
Soon enough, however, it was time to line up to run. There were pace runners with signs, so that was a perk. However, I would soon find out that the pace we were aiming for (8 minute miles) was a bit too lofty a goal.
Not only was the heat a factor in slowing me down, but the HUGE hills also were cumbersome! Matt was kind enough to stick with me on the course, but I know I was slowing him down. The positive to going slower, however, was that we got to see some of the other points of interest along the race route. This included 5 additional filming locations from The Shawshank Redemption found throughout downtown Mansfield (including the Bissman Building and Carousel Antiques). You also pass the Mansfield Carousel, which we had tickets to ride as a perk for signing up, and the Phoenix Brewing Company, where we have complimentary beers after the race.
They describe the race as an "escape from the prison," and the final gigantic hill on the out-and-back course is referred to as "The Road To Redemption," which is definitely fitting. It was quite a challenge (you can view the race course from the POV of a runner here on YouTube). Our race medals were shaped like ball & chains, which is what I felt I had shackled to my ankle the whole way. Needless to say, I was glad the race was over.
Not only did the allure of the prison and the love of the movie bring people out in droves to this race, but the added bonus of having access to tour the facility following the run was also a perk!
We had the chance to see some remarkable infrastructure, such as the world's largest free-standing cell blocks (pictured above) and some of the props from the movie! It was a self-guided tour with so much to see, we could have spent hours inside!
The picture above is me in the prison cell, hanging my head in shame for having a slow race time (only joking of course). While I was disappointed with my time, my friend Matt showed me just what friends are for by bringing my spirits up and reminding me that everyone has a "bad race" every once in awhile. He shared with me the following words of wisdom:
Some runs are bad. Some are good. A few are great - especially when you contrast them with the bad. It's easier to shake off a bad run when you remember that you've had plenty of great runs in the past. Terrible races make the good ones that much sweeter. Without the lows, the highs wouldn't feel nearly as good.