The IOA/Jaguars Stadium Challenge 5K is, as its name indicates, a bit of a challenge. Set in the middle of scorching August, and including the concourse ramps of TIAA Bank Field, this 5K is not for the faint of heart.
This 5K takes place at night and splits up start times into several waves. Walkers, strollers, competitive, corporate and “under the lights” are all different divisions. Sandwiched in between is a one-mile fun run for kids and those who aren’t quite sure if they feel like taking on the full challenge.
It’s an all-night affair, for sure.
Pre-Race Packet Pickup
We’ve been all about our race day packet pickups, for convenience, but at past experiences with this event, day of has always been a bit of a mess. There have been times where the line has been so long that runners have almost missed their start time! We built in a cushion, anticipating more of the same madness.
When we arrived, we slid into a super-close parking spot and the process of grabbing our bibs and shirts was super easy. There was plenty of time to use the restrooms (real ones for the win!) and visit some of the vendors set up around the venue.
One thing to note: the start and post-race festivities were set up inside Daily’s Place, the attached amphitheater. Runners and spectators had to go through metal detectors upon entry, and were not allowed to bring in their own fluids or foods. Not a huge deal for me for a 5K, but it was something I haven’t encountered before.
We met up with some friends before the race, and then tried to figure out in what wave to start. I forgot what we had selected when we registered and it wasn’t indicated on our bibs. I didn’t want to go out with the walker division, and little man didn’t want to go out too late. Complicating the decision making was the fact that the heavens were threatening to open at any time and none of us wanted to be running ramps in the rain.
When we saw that the stroller division had plenty of non-stroller participants, we decided to hop in and go for it. At this point, several waves had already departed the start area and the course is plenty wide enough to accommodate runners with and without carriages. Our 2019 Jaguars Stadium Challenge was underway!
Little man took off like a shot (kids and pacing, am I right?) and I had to kick it into high gear to catch him. He had made a big deal about not wanting to be on the course by himself, but as soon as I caught up to him, he put on the brakes. Mr PugRunner was still behind us, so I told him to keep on going, and settled into my own pace.
The 5K course involves a loop around the parking lot of the TIAA Bank Field, then goes down and around the practice field. There’s an out and back on a road alongside the stadium, and from there, it’s back inside.
Runners get the pleasure of running to the top to TIAA Bank Field via the exterior ramps, through the concourse, and down the next ramp. They go around the ground floor, and then up, through and down again. The home stretch consists of a run down the sideline of the football field to the finish line in the tunnel.
It’s really cool. Grueling, but cool.
I will remind you that it was humid as anything out there. Night running isn’t my jam, but I put my head down and pushed through. I lost track of the guys after the out and back before the ramps, and I did get a little nervous because there was some lightning in the far distance, but it wasn’t close enough to call the race.
I crossed the finish line before the rain,
and waited for the rest of my family to come through.
After all that elevation, it was time to celebrate! There is always a great party after this race, with a rocking DJ, photo ops and free beer for runners.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleaders were out taking photos, which was a huge hit.
The IOA/Jaguars Stadium Challenge 5K never disappoints in the swag department never disappoints in the medal category, and this year was no exception. This was my first piece of helmet-shaped bling, and I confess it was one of the main reasons I registered.
We called the evening quickly, because it started to rain and we didn’t want to be out in the storm. I felt awful for the runners still out on the course when the downpour came through. Races are unpredictable like that, but I’m glad we went with an earlier wave.
Six thumbs up for another great Jaguars Stadium Challenge!
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