Since little man was admitted to the NICU at Wolfson Children’s Hospital within one day of birth, we have always done what we could to help support the institution. For the past few years, joining a relay team to participate in the Wolfson Children’s Challenge has been a part of that tradition.
January is the perfect time of year for runners to come out for the 55K Ultra event. The more daring can take on the full distance, while other options include a 30K, an 11 leg relay and a one mile fun run. There is something for every member of the family.
Once again, I joined Empower Coaching & Fitness on the team Lillian’s Warriors. Sweet Lillian will be braving a kidney transplant in the upcoming months and we were so very proud to run in her honor.
Our team was made up of 10 women, and S had done a great job of completing our roster. A 55K makes for a really long day, and some of us had other obligations after our run. I always prefer an earlier slot, and snagged the #2 leg, which was perfect.
Every year I’ve done this race, the course has altered a little bit, and this time was no different. It is just one 5K loop, that starts and ends on the field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. While it’s nice to change things up, I also like to know what to expect. The good news is, I think this has been my favorite course of the ones I have run.
Our team started at 7:30, which meant I was running my first leg a little after 8:00 AM.
The weather was meh – still chilly but very humid. I went out with S & J, who had plans to get in their long run as well, and we kept it very nice and easy so our legs wouldn’t get too tired. We were able to maintain a nice steady pace for the whole 3.1 miles, which was exactly what I wanted.
They split off before the finish line for a bathroom break and hydration, and I continued forward to cross the timing mat and pass our bib belt to our next runner, J.
I sat out one leg and then jumped back in with K. The day was warming up, and I lagged a bit but I was having a blast with the river view and the conversation. At the end of that 5K, I got a drink and a quick snack and then headed out for two more another mile and a half around Everbank Field on my own. I needed a change of scenery and to listen to some tunes.
Business first, right?
The Baseball Grounds are completely taken over by this challenge. Teams have a whole tent village on one side, while the other is dedicated to a stage for live music and announcements, a VIP tent for sponsors, interactive games, food vendors, beer vendors (free beer for runners), and great photo opps.
After claiming my medal,
I took a wander to see what was around.
Obviously, I had to get a picture with some of the 501st. There were tons of characters out and about, who were more than happy to pose.
And then K and I celebrated the day with a toast! We had earned it!
Unfortunately, I had to cut the day short before the rest of the team finished their runs. I do usually love to stay til the bitter end to cheer everyone on, but I had some tight scheduling that afternoon and couldn’t make it happen.
That being said, it was another great event for a great cause. I love getting to see the faces of the Wolfson kids up on the big screen and I love that we are able to run in support of all these young fighters!
I will be back at this race as often as I can, if only to support the cause. Wolfson Children’s Hospital does amazing things in the community and it’s a privilege to be a part of it all.
What’s your favorite cause for which to run?
Would you go for the ultra or take some legs of the relay?