I was provided with a complimentary entry to the Florida Striders Memorial Day 5K in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
The Florida Striders Memorial Day 5K is “that” race.
I think we all have that race. The one we love more than the rest. The one that means the most to us and that we hold near and dear in our hearts.
This particular event really kicks off summer, on a bit of a serious note. Runners gather to remember and honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country. These 3.1 miles are run in their memory, and it’s truly a beautiful thing to see flags being carried by runners, shirts made to honor fallen family and friends, and all the red, white and blue on display.
It’s hard not to be moved by the sight.
With the 5K starting at 8:00 AM, I arrived at 7:00 and had my choice of parking spots in the attached lots. Those who came later either lucked out with a spot or found street parking near the start line. It’s never been an issue at this event.
Runners and spectators gather at the Orange Park Town Hall Park. There is plenty of room to spread out and day-of registration was open. Portapotties were readily available outside the fire station, and there were vendor and organization tables and tents set up in the grassy areas. It makes for a really nice community vibe.
As the start time approached, runners moved over to the start line.
The course is familiar: it’s been pretty much the same since I started running this event seven years ago.
It’s not fast, but it is is shaded and fairly scenic, winding through really pretty residential neighborhoods. Of course, the biggest issue is that it’s hot and humid, but that always seems a small concern when considering the reason for the race.
The Star Spangled Banner was sung, a moment of silence was observed and active duty and retired service people were recognized. Those moments are always the most beautiful.
And then we began.
The course is well marked and spacious enough. The first half mile tends to crowded just because of the quick twists and turns, but by the first mile, every runner has more than enough room to spread out and find their stride.
I was running solo this time, due to scheduling, so I just turned up my music and continued moving through the miles as they passed. There was a water station set up for double duty on the way out and the way back. I passed it up because I always do for that distance, but there was plenty of water for all the runners and walkers.
This year, in addition to the regular 5K and 1 mile fun run, the Florida Striders added some neat little bonuses. For one, a virtual run was available. All proceeds were earmarked for the Semper Fi Fund. Also, the top 10% of finishers scored a Top 10% hat. While I wasn’t destined for that honor, it was definitely an extra little motivator for the top 10%!
Me? I was thrilled with my t-shirt and custom medal.
The medals are always gorgeous and I love earning them.
I also love the iced watermelon, available with the post race water, bananas and bagels. So refreshing and the perfect way to end a great race.
Despite the heat and the late start (for me – I’m usually done running long before 8), it was another solid run and I was thrilled to be a part of it again. Thanks to the team and volunteers for making it so great.
What’s the race that is special to you?
Did you run a race for Memorial Day?