February is always a fairly busy month for races in Florida. It’s right after the holidays when people are still in the throes of keeping up with their fitness resolutions and the weather is generally good, so it makes sense.
I had a lot of ideas about races I wanted to run in February. The Daytona Beach Half Marathon and the DONNA Breast Cancer Marathon events both fell on the same weekend, which was also the weekend of little man’s Pinewood Derby, so there were pros and cons and choices to be made about challenges, distances and the like. It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to run a challenge and I am looking for some extra bling.
The choice was made for me, though, when the boys gave me the Lap the Track 5K registration as part of my Christmas present. They were going to run with me and it was going to be a fabulous family day.
Ah, the best-laid plans.
Turns out little man got the flu, and Mr PugRunner was having some sympathy pangs. On Saturday night, we discussed the game plan, and since everyone was well enough to be left to their own devices without mom (but not well enough to be out and about), we decided that I would just make the drive in the morning, run the 5K and come home.
Not quite as much fun as originally planned, but sometimes, we just have to adapt and overcome.
Per usual, I was up before the sun, and on my way to Daytona. There were some changes to note, so I wanted to make sure I had enough time to snag my packet and get to the start line on time.
I’m not entirely sure what fueled the adjustments, but the good folks at the Daytona Beach Half Marathon added a 5K on Saturday night, removed the original Speedway Challenge, made the start time for the Sunday morning start time much earlier, and moved packet pickup, staging and post-party to the Daytona One complex across the street from the track.
None of these things were bad, exactly. The packet pickup, gear check and post-party were all located at Daytona One, a brand new retail and entertainment complex, full of stores and restaurants. There was plenty of space, and I loved getting my packet at the Bass Pro Shops, because it meant some inside time and a real bathroom rather than a portapotty.
It was also nice that I got to drop off my backpack at gear check en route to the Daytona International Speedway, rather than having to hike all the way back to the car and back again. It was a bit of a distance, and with the wind and raw temperatures, I was grateful for that little reprieve.
There’s a really nice pedestrian walkway that goes over the main road, so it was a fairly easy trek.
By the time I got over to the track, the half marathon was already underway, and I had maybe 15 minutes to go get all the good pictures. In contrast to years past, none of the races would actually end on the speedway.
I had barely wrapped up when the announcer called for the 5Kers to line up, and we were underway.
The Lap the Track 5K is fairly straightforward: runners go along the Daytona International Speedway, which takes up about 2.25 miles. From there, they exit out to the concourse around the base of the speedway. Previously, runners would complete a small loop and then return to the track for the grand finale.
This year, we exited the track, went around the exterior path and then took the ramp to the pedestrian walkway to finish in the Daytona One complex.
It was windy and cold, but also pretty humid, especially in the bowl of the track. It would have been so much more fun with the boys, but I reminded myself of how much I enjoy this particular event and kept it going all the way to the finish line.
While it was nice, there is definitely something to be said for finishing by the checkered flags and getting to enjoy the vibe of the Speedway.
That being said, there were plenty of vendors and awesome volunteers and staff. I got a great photo with the big sea turtle.
And a snap with a racecar.
There was cold beer and gorgeous bling, as always.
All in all, it was a fun morning, but I do hope things go back to “normal” next year. Despite the great swag, friendly volunteers and staff, free photos and fabulous snacks and drinks, there was definitely a little something missing, and I’d love for the event to get that back!
Have you ever experienced a disappoint course change? Did it turn you away from an event?