Ah, summer running! Ok, technically, it is still spring, but with temperatures in the high 80s and 90-100% humidity, it might as well be summer.
That’s Florida for you.
From mid-March to early September, the races in Florida dwindle. While the rest of the country is entrenched in “race season”, we cut back our miles, rest, recover and take on some fairly hot 5Ks, if we’re feeling ambitious. Sure, some of us do keep the training cycles going for fall, but it’s slow, sweaty work.
That being said, putting races on the calendar is extremely helpful to my motivation: I need something towards which to work. For the next few months, 5Ks make up the bulk of what’s available, but here are my five must-run races this summer.
Florida Striders Memorial Day 5K
Ok, so this one has come and gone, but it’s the best way for me to kick off summer running. This year is the 6th time I have run this particular 5K, and it’s truly one of my favorites. It’s a nice-sized race (around 1000 runners), with a lovely course through a shaded residential neighborhood. There is a great post-race celebration in the park adjacent to the finish line, and this year, we had the benefit of iced watermelon! Medals and shirts are always very nice and I love the patriotic, hometown feel.
To be honest, I don’t know much about this event, other than it takes place outside of Marineland, a local marine park. And it’s very small and for a good cause (Gratitude America’s Military Support Retreats). And that’s about it. But I haven’t run it before, and I’m excited at the prospect of something new and different. Even though I love so many of the bigger, more popular races in town, it’s easy to get tired of familiar courses, so this will be a fun detour.
In my quest to run a race in 50 states, I have found the Turtle Trot 5K series in Bald Head Island. Once again, this is a very small event. There are no shirts and no medals, but that’s because all proceeds from the event go to the Bald Head Island Conservancy. The island is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous and I am very much looking forward to exploring, and maybe getting lucky enough to see some turtles or other wildlife.
Oh, Tour De Pain. I just can’t quit you. Three races. Twenty-four hours. Dead of summer. We all know it sounds just terrible, but somehow, the siren song of that particular challenge keeps me coming back time and time again. From Friday night through Saturday afternoon, runners must complete a 4 mile beach run, a 3 mile road race and 1 mile sizzler sprint. They don’t call it Tour De Pain for nothing! The end result makes it all worthwhile, though – a fun afterparty in downtown Jacksonville with pizza, beer and a beautiful view.
I’m not going to lie. This race is hard. It’s in the hottest part of August, and runners get to complete their 3.1 miles by climbing the ramps to the top of the Jaguars Stadium, then down, around, up and down again. It definitely gets that heart rate pumping! However, there are waves to keep crowds down, and everyone gets the experience of running around the football field and seeing themselves finish on the giant display screens. This is a great one for the whole family, and I am hoping the boys will run it with me again this year.
What’s on your race wishlist for the summer?
What kinds of events are typical for your region over the next few months?