Today, I’m happy to bring you my race report for the Bridge of Lions 5k! This is a long-standing St. Augustine tradition, and a race I tend to skip. Mr. PugRunner and I each had our own events, and this was always his. In fact, this year was only my second time participating in the Bridge of Lions. I approached race day with a mix of excitement and trepidation.
The Bridge of Lions offered packet pickup on Friday before the race at Funkytown Fitness, and at Oglethorpe Park (the finish line) on race morning. We opted to pick up on Friday because of logistics. Our plan was to park at the start line this year (about one mile from the finish) and that would be too much back and forth before the race. We received our bib, our shirt (super cute), and safety pins. I like when things are simple.
Arriving At The Race
The BOL had a start time of 7:30AM, which was fine, but I still wanted to leave early. Since it is a point to point race, runners have the choice to park at the Castillo De San Marcos (at the start line) or surrounding area in historic St. Augustine. The other option is across the Bridge, on the streets in Davis Shores near Oglethorpe Park (the finish). I wanted a photo with our medals and the lion sculpture on the bridge, so we oped for the Castillo. We arrived about an hour beforehand, and got one of the last spots in the lot.
Mr PugRunner threw me a curveball and asked if we would be running together. We don’t train together, and we don’t often race together. I knew he had been doing some running with his current plan, but I didn’t think I would be able to match him with my intervals. He confessed that he hasn’t been running much at all, so we decided to just meet up at the finish, so we could run the paces with which we were comfortable.
From there, I decided to go to the bathroom. For some reason, I completely missed the line of portapotties lined up near the bayfront, and tried to hit up the public restroom near the parking garage. That was closed, and I wandered downtown for a bit, looking for an available bathroom. Finally, I gave up, and that’s when I noticed the portables. D’oh! I got in line, despite rumors of no toilet paper, and kept my fingers crossed for the best. I was lucky to get a toilet that had plenty of TP, and I was finished with five minute to spare.
At 7:30, 1200 runners surged forward to start the Bridge of Lions 5k.
We ran down Avenida Menendez, along the bayfront, and turned left on to the Bridge of Lions, about 1/3 of a mile in. It was hot and humid, and there was no shade or cloud cover. I took off pretty quickly (for me), and made it over the bridge without missing a beat. That was a huge victory for me, and I felt good as I turned into Davis Shores, the neighborhood where we would spend the rest of the miles.
To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to the route. It’s a quiet neighborhood, and I followed the crowd. The course is technically open, with the exception of a few police-manned intersections, but we didn’t have any interference from traffic. The course was marked, and there were two water stops along the way, definitely necessary in the heat. There are some gorgeous houses and pretty water views., but I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I didn’t stop for water or anything else, because I just wanted to get done.
The worst part of the race is seeing the finish line and the post-race gathering, but then having to turn left and run around a large block to get to it. Boo.
I crossed the finish line, and was herded into the chute. Volunteers handed out bottles of water and ziplock bags of ice. We had to walk a bit farther to collect our medals, and then I settled in to wait for Mr PugRunner.
The park was actually quite nice and shaded, so I didn’t mind the wait. It didn’t take him long to come in, but it took him a few minutes to get himself together. He isn’t as acclimated to the outside elements as I am, so it hit him a little harder. We took advantage of the water and the tree cover, but didn’t snag any snacks or line up for massages. We had breakfast plans in town.
This is a tough race. It’s hot and busy, but it’s also a local staple, which makes it nice to support. From what I’ve seen, the quality of the shirts and medals has drastically improved as well, and that always catches my attention.
We walked back across the bridge (accidentally getting back on the course on our way – whoops! But not to worry, we didn’t tangle anyone up), and I got my photos! It was actually a bit nicer parking at the start, because we got a great cool down.
From there, it was off to breakfast, and the rest of our day. I’m proud of both our performances, given the conditions, and yes, I’ll probably be back next year.
Do you have that local staple race you love to hate?
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