I try to make it a tradition to run a 5k on or around my birthday, and due to scheduling, the Black Knight DONNA Mother’s Day 5K was the lucky winner. This was a new-to-me event, but the DONNA series of races is very well-known in the northeast Florida area, and I was happy to support it.
Packet Pick Up
Runners had the opportunity to pick up their packets at one of three 1st Place Sports locations. None of them were super convenient for me, but I didn’t want to stress about race morning in a new place, so I just made the drive. I easily got my bib, a DONNA-branded clear stadium bag, and my technical shirt. I was ready to roll.
The Night Before
I did not plan well, because I had dinner with girlfriends at The Sugar Factory. Knowing I had an early morning, I got a burger for protein and limited myself to one cocktail.
I also set up my flat runner, although I made a tank change at the last minute.
Even after a late night, I slept ok. Mr PugRunner wanted to join me at the race, even though I wanted to get there early. We had a parking pass for a garage across the street from the start line at the Black Knight building, and I wanted to make sure it didn’t fill up. Yes, I stress a little over parking.
We got a great spot, and headed out to the start line. It was actually pleasantly chilly and overcast, and I was grateful for that. My first stop was the portapotties, and then we kind of wandered around the starting area.
The DONNA is all about helping local people with breast cancer with financial support and resources. It wass founded by Donna Deegan (who was just elected as the first female mayor of Jacksonville!), who is, herself, a three time breast cancer survivor. It’s a really amazing foundation, and it was great to see the Buddy Bus on hand for breast screenings.
At The Start Line
At about 7:40, the race announcer called everyone to the start line and introduced Donna. She talked for a few minutes about the foundation and her own story, then introduced a representative for the title sponsor, and a mother and daughter who were both undergoing treatment. All four women shared beautiful words of inspiration before the DONNA Mother’s Day 5K.
And on that note, we were off.
Mile 1 – 1.5
We headed towards downtown Jacksonville. This stretch of road is a little hilly, but it was cool enough to just roll with it. The crowd went up and over the Acosta Bridge, giving us a beautiful view of the fog.
Coming off the bridge, we turned left towards the Convention Center, made a u-turn, and then headed back on a straightaway through the city. At a little over one mile mark, we made another u-turn, and finally cut left towards the river walk, where a water station waited for runners.
Miles 1.5 – 3.1
This was probably my favorite portion of the Mother’s Day 5K. Even though there is a lot of construction, I never tire of the views of the river. We ran along the path for a bit, before the trickiest part of the race: the “corkscrew.” This is a twisting, 4-story ramp that leads to a footbridge over the water.
It’s a part of so many downtown races, and everyone hates it! Plus, it messes with the GPS, making final distances inaccurate. But up we went, and then it was straight down the footbridge.
We were now in the last bit of the race: more time along the river. Finally, we turned right at the Riverside Arts Market, ran past the all the vendors and food trucks, and turned right again for the final stretch!
There was a nice set up after the race, with light bites, water and adult beverages. Mimosas were available in honor of Mother’s Day, but I opted for a Wild Cherry White Claw (I don’t think I ever had one before).
We hung out for a few minutes, taking pictures and enjoying the view.
And then we headed out to get breakfast.
There was nothing not to love about the DONNA Mother’s Day 5k. I enjoyed the course, and all the little touches. It’s always great to be in the presence of so many warriors and survivors, their families and friends, and all the support networks. Plus, there is so much pink! Next time I run this, I think I will bring a tutu or sparkle skirt to really fit in.
Do you have any big local charities in your area? Do you run races for your birthday?
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