Usually, on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I take on the the Evergreen Cemetery 5K/10K event in Jacksonville. It’s a great run and I really enjoy it, but I’m also a really big fan of trying new things.
The Vilano Bridge 5K/10K is much closer to home and proceeds go to support the local beach communities. While I’ve run the Vilano Bridge on multiple occasions (it’s the nearest bridge for hill training and speed work) I’ve never actually raced it, and have been looking forward to the opportunity.
I also managed to talk S and K into the adventure. This would be K’s first 10K, and we were so excited to have her join us.
The morning of the race was a little stressful we opted to pick up our packets at the site, but we received an email from the race, advising us to get there extra early to find parking and to avoid the traffic from a free rising clinic to be offered the same day. We had no idea what kind of crowds to expect, so we hit the road about 90 minutes before the race started for a 7:30 AM start.
As it turns out, we got a great parking spot in a nice lot, but still had to walk a bit to get our shirts and bibs, drop off our gear in the car and return to the start line. With portapotty stop, we had about 20 minutes to wait before go-time. Not terrible planning.
I had only briefly looked at the course map, so I knew we would be running through one of the Vilano Beach neighborhoods, over the bridge, thought he Comachee Cove community, through the grounds of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and then back over the bridge and through the neighborhood to the finish line. It was a new course for me, and it’s always neat to see something new.
We started with the pack and fell quickly into our rhythm.
The weather? Well, it was cold and windy and damp. Not ideal but it could have been a lot worse. I was grateful that it was overcast and glad that the humidity stayed low. That being said, running into a headwind, especially on a big bridge, is not my favorite.
There were a lot of little out and backs and turnarounds on the course. I loved getting to see the campus for the School for the Deaf and Blind, and that was beautiful, but I could have done without all the loops and turns. It just didn’t feel like we were going anywhere, and that can be a little discouraging for me.
However, before long, we were able to hit that final turn and cruised our way to the finish line.
There was no official photographer at this event, so no great finish line photos. Boo.
After the race was a lovely “Party in the Park” with music, food trucks, vendors and tables and chairs. On the complimentary side, runners had a choice of beer from two local breweries, and chips and salsa from Tijuana Flats. Yum.
We also got to meet up with one of the moms from our local Moms Run This Town chapter!
It was a great way to spend the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. We had a blast out there and I’m so glad K decided to join us. Incidentally, our pace per mile was about 1:15 faster than normal, which felt really good, especially considering the wind and the bridge.
And of course, who could go wrong with a dolphin-adorned medal?
For a smaller race (about 700 people), it was a really well-done event. The course was well-marked, in spite of all the twists and turns, and while the course was open, the drivers were very respectful and cautious. There were plenty of water stops for the runners. I would have loved some bridge photos, but it wasn’t the end of the world to not have a photographer on duty, and I don’t think I would hesitate to run this one again.
I’m glad I broke out of my norm to try something new.
What makes you switch from a regular favorite to a new race?
Do you like lots of little twists and turns or prefer a more straightforward route?