This year was the third time I have participated in the Wolfson Children’s Challenge Ultra Relay.
When he was born, little man was transported from our hospital to Wolfson Children’s Hospital because of concerns with his heart. He spent 10 days in their NICU, and while it was terrifying and stressful, we are forever grateful for the care he received while there. (Needless to say, he had grown into the most amazing kid, and has a clean bill of health), and I am always happy to support the hospital.
There are several categories for runners: a 55K Ultra, 55K Relay and a 30K Ultra, namely. The course is one 5K loop that runners repeat until finished. Runners are welcome to bring their own support crews, and can set up their own drop stations with all the fuel they may need throughout the day. We, with a team of 10, were most decidedly in the Relay category.
We arrived nice and early, and made our way to our tent. The first runners would start at 7:30, and while I was scheduled for the third leg, I was going to help pace our second runner, too. If I was feeling froggy, I was going to go out for three more miles after that was done, for a long run of 9.3.
It was freezing, which seems to be the case for this event. In addition to a camp chair, I had gloves, an ear warmer and even a blanket. I had brought a change of clothes for later, but it really never warmed up so I stayed in capris all day.
At 7:30, we sent off our first runner
And settled in for the wait.
The course changed a little this year, for the better. Last time, we spent a ton of time running alongside Everbank Field and through the stadium’s parking lots. This year, we skipped that altogether and ran through the streets of Jacksonville. There was even a little running along the river, which was nice.
A beautiful sunrise always helps the miles pass more quickly.
My first 6.2 miles went really well. I wasn’t ever able to feel really warm (at one point, I shed my ear warmers, but I had to hold on to the gloves for quite some time).
I’m not sure what was so amusing, but we were laughing about something.
I took a small break after two laps of the course. After a drink and a bathroom break, I headed back out to bring some fuel to one of our teammates. While I was up and moving, I completed the rest of my miles around Everbank Field (not the most scenic, but there were lots of sidewalks and space to run).
And then it was time to enjoy what the venue had to offer. I heard the announcers report that there were record numbers of runners this year, and everything seemed really organized and well put-together, so that was good.
There were plenty of vendors, bounce houses and photo opportunities.
Different local musicians took the stage to provide entertainment for runners and spectators.
And there were plenty of characters out and about. This storm trooper even let me hold his blaster (not a very Storm Trooperly thing to do, in my opinion, but I was absolutely giddy about it!)
We posed for photo booth pictures in Tin Can Photo Lounge, and all of us got a complimentary photo strip, which was such a nice touch.
4Rivers was on hand with a food installation, and a brisket sandwich with macaroni and cheese seemed like the perfect complement to the runner’s free beer.
Before we left, Elsie and her parents came to say hi! She was doing great and we were all so happy to see her! She is such an inspiring little girl.
I was sorry to have to leave before the rest of the team finished, but next year, I am in it for the long haul (to the point that I even mentioned to my friend Stacey that I think I might be up for the 30K!).
Another great year in the books! I can’t wait to do it all over again!
Is there a cause for which you particularly love running?
Have you ever participated in an ultra relay like this?