Ten years ago, I toed the start line of the Florida Striders Memorial Day 5K, as my very first race experience. It was the start of a decade-long hobby/obsession, and on Monday, I lined back up to do it all over again. To be fair, I have not run this actual race ten times (although I did it as often as possible), but it continues to be an event I love.
Packet PickUp + The Morning Of The Memorial Day 5k
Since it was a Monday morning race, I opted to get my bib and t-shirt at the venue itself. We had a packed weekend, and I didn’t feel like making an extra trip anywhere. I did set up my flat runner the night before.
I arrived at the site at about 6:50AM. Parking stresses me out. However, there were still a few spots at the Orange Park Town Hall, and plenty in the next door shopping center. I parked, and walked over to the gazebo for packet pickup. There was no line, and I got my bib and my shirt, although the volunteer told me I would have to come back in a bit if I wanted safety pins. Lucky for me, I grabbed a few from home on my way out.
Then it was time to wait. There were portapotties, but for some reason, they were about 1.5 blocks past the start line. Annoying, especially since I had to go a few times. But then I met up with my local running group, and found my place at the start.
Miles 1 – 2
After a tribute to our fallen heroes, and a live rendition of the National Anthem, the Memorial Day 5K began.
This race has a pretty straightforward course: it’s part loop, part out-and-back. Most of it is shaded by big trees, as runners travel through pretty residential areas. And it’s even a little hilly, for Florida. With an 8AM start time, it does warm up quickly, and the humidity absolutely closes in fast, but as long as the trees hold off the sun, it’s all good.
I went out feeling ok, encountered the first water stop, and continued on. The fastest runners passed us at one intersection, but then we went on past them for the big loop portion of the race.
From this point on, we were running back. The water volunteers hopped to the other side of the road to catch everyone on the way back (still none for me).
There are quite a few turns on this course, so it can be a bit daunting. But finally, we hit the last couple of turns and headed towards the finish line. We were all pretty ready to be done.
Finish Line + Post Race
It was not a PR, nor was it my slowest, but I did enjoy the heck out of this race. I always do. I crossed the finish line and got my medal. Check these out! I didn’t notice the error at first – I was too caught up in watching other finishers come through, but now it just makes me laugh.
The race organizers put out water and snacks. Last year, they had Jeremiah’s ice handing out little cups to the runners, which was a nice touch, but the Oreos and goldfish did the trick.
We got one more group shot with as many people as we could collect at the finish. This is such an awesome and supportive group of runners – it’s great to see them at the local events, and know that they are always cheering each other on.
And then just a few more. I am always up for fun pictures.
Finally, we said our goodbyes, and I took myself to breakfast at the coffee shop I pass on my way home. I wanted to go to the adjacent water front park for a few more pics, but there was a Memorial Day event going on so I just satisfied myself with an iced coffee and biscuit sandwich.
I saved the jump for home.
The Memorial Day 5K is a small race, but it’s a good one. Obviously, it’s for a noble cause, which helps. There are always solid amenities (nice medal and shirt, snacks, plenty of water, and a good course), and that makes it one of my favorites.
Sure, the bathrooms were inconvenient and there was a spelling error on the medals, but these things happen. I’ll keep coming back for sure. And next time, I’ll get more than four hours of sleep!
Join the Runner’s Roundup!
Link up each week to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas. Join your hosts Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Mile by Mile, and Runs with Pugs, each week for the Runners’ Roundup linkup! Your link must be running related. Unrelated links will be removed. You must link back to your hosts — it’s common courtesy and a lot more fun! Spread the link-up love by visiting at least two other #running bloggers! Leave a comment and find new blogs to read! Use hashtags #running and #RunnersRoundup to stay in touch and promote your content!