I am an Ambassador for Best Damn Race. Through my promotion of the event, I earned a complimentary entry to this race. All opinions are my own.
Since Best Damn Race came to Jacksonville in 2015, I have been a huge fan. I had to run the first race virtually (it was an option, and I do love that first year medal), as I was running my first marathon in another city at the time, but since then, I have been at every 10K start line.
This past Saturday was no exception.
I did a turn volunteering on Friday at packet pickup, which was great, as the volunteer crew is always awesome, and the excitement increased when Meghan arrived at the house! We were going to run our first 10K of 2018! Let the games begin!
I struggled picking the right outfit. The temperatures were supposed to be in the low 40s, but we were also planning on sun. I decided on capris, a tank top and long sleeve shirt, gloves and my visor. I considered my ear warmer and then left it behind (a decision I would later regret).
I wanted to make sure we had parking that was close to the start line, so we left the house at 5:40AM. We scored a spot in a large right across the street from the Jacksonville Landing, which was a quick walk to the race start.
We snagged coffee for Meghan and wandered through the Landing a bit. The BDR merchandise area and packet pickup were located in an empty bar space, which was a nice way to get out of the cold and wind. Later, post-race food would be set up in the same area.
With the start time of 7:00 AM ticking down, we hopped in line for a port-a-potty (there were plenty) and took care of business, and then found our place at start. The 10K and 5K would start together, with the Half Marathon joining the fun at 7:15.
I recall the temperature being in the 40s, but dropping throughout the morning. The promised sun never materialized either. I would have enjoyed a little warmth, but you take whatever weather race day gives you and go with it.
After the start, we headed up Bay Street and alongside Everbank Field, making a turn around at the 1.5 mile mark. When we rounded that cone, we got slapped in the face by a sharp and relentless wind. Ugh. There was nothing to be done but put our heads down and push, and so we did, retracing our steps until we got to the overpass that would lead us into Riverside.
The windy uphill created a bit more of a challenge, but these bridges and ramps are common for the city of Jacksonville. I knew it was coming (there’s really no other way to get to the other side of the St. Johns River) and braced for it.
We turned left onto Riverside Avenue, and just followed the road. There are plenty of buildings and cute houses along the way, although crowd support was low, undoubtedly because it was awful out. One of my running friends was handing out bags of Swedish fish, and I very gratefully snagged a bag at Mile 4.
The last turnaround came at Mile 4.5 and we were heading back! We turned right at the Riverside Arts Market and left at the RiverWalk, affording us a gorgeous path along the water. The path is wide enough to accommodate the runners and we were able to take in the view of the city and bridges as we hustled to the finish line, and warmth!
Right before the final stretch is this combination of a steep bike/walking ramp and corkscrew downhill. To be honest, while the uphill ramp is tough, I like flying down the spiral. I think I’m pretty alone in my opinion, but again, this feature is part of most local city races, and I’m used to it. Obviously, the best part is that we were almost done.
I kept chatting with Meghan to keep our mind off the last bit of distance, and we powered towards that finish line (hooray for free race photos, too)!
I was super excited to collect my medal and head for some recovery food and drinks. As always, Best Damn Race does not disappoint: they offered oranges and bananas, candy, brownies, cookies and wings from Hooters. They also had Coke, Diet Coke, Bloody Marys and lots of beer.
We remained inside to warm up, see our fellow race ambassadors and snap a quick photo with some of the staff.
Celebration breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company? Check!
It was another fabulous experience and a great way to kick off 2018! Meghan and I had more race adventures planned for the weekend so it was time to get going!
Have you ever run a Best Damn Race? You can join us in Safety Harbor on February 3 or use code RUNPUGS to save $5 on any distance in either Orlando or New Orleans in March!
What makes a race “the best” for you? Great course? Great swag? Great post-party? Let us know!