The Run For The Pies 5K is a bit of a race nemesis for me. Strike 1: it’s at night. Strike 2: It’s fast. But sometimes, I black out and decide this sounds like it’s everything I love, and off we go. Of course, this time, I roped in Meghan and J, because what could be more fun than convincing the people you love to run fast, nighttime 5ks with you?
Historically, Run For The Pies has been combination “championship” and open 5k. The “championship” athletes run first (usually at 7PM), and the regular folks run later (at 7:30PM). This is defined as any men who has run a sub 17:00 5k, and any women who runs a sub 20:00 5K in the past year. There are cash prizes, equalizer bonuses, and other perks. The “championship” course is also different from the open course: the speedsters run four times around a city block, so spectators can watch, while everyone else gets to go out into downtown Jacksonville.
Also historically, a certain number of finishers in the open category received whole entire pies for this effort. More recently, race organizers changed things up by giving a mini moon pie to every registered runner, and a full size moon pie and a hat to every man who broke 22 minutes and every female who broke 26 minutes. Intense.
Leading Up to Race Day
Fact: I have never been fast enough to earn a pie, regular or moon, so I took matters into my own hands, and picked up slices of pie at Mixed Fillings, a local shop that makes incredible pies. The plan was to bring them on race night, and then we could have a nice little pie picnic post race.
I also picked up mine and Meghan’s packets. I was thrilled that we got super cute race tanks, as well as awesome waterproof backpacks. Random, but I wasn’t complaining.
Meghan and I spent the day out, then grabbed our gear, and J and drove up to the Run For The Pies venue. I wanted to get there a little early because downtown parking can be dicey, and we still had to get J’s packet. It took some circling, but I finally found a spot five blocks from James Weldon Johnson Park. This is a great event and community spot downtown, and I was super excited for the vibe. We got J’s stuff, returned to the car, got situated and walked back.
We met up with our JaxRun folks, but no sooner did we snap this photo than thunder started rumbling, lightning flashed in the distance, and the race organizers delayed the event.
Weather Delay + Championship Race
And then the heavens opened. Everyone scattered, and found cover. It was too far to get back to the car without getting soaked, so we did the best we could, under the elevated metro tracks. Obviously, safety comes first, but it sucked being stuck in one precarious position for almost an hour. Finally, the storm started to move and the announcer said that the championship run would go off at 7:20.
The relevant runners peeled off in spite of the lingering drizzle, and lined up to go: women first and men two minutes later. We got to watch a little bit from our vantage point, and saw the fastest man come in at 15:07 and woman at 17:17. Amazing. And I’m sure they were holding back a little due to the wet and slippery pavement. Well done, all!
Time For The Open 5K
And then we were up. Obviously, there was a time crunch, and the announcer hustled us all to the start line. We barely snapped this photo before the gun went off and we were on our way.
It became quickly apparent that this was going to be a “race” of time spent together, rather than a hard running effort. That’s ok: we’re all friends and 3.1 miles of good conversation as the sun set was just fine by us.
The ground was slippery, and the course was very much new to me. Usually, downtown runs are held by the riverfront or go near the stadium, but this time, we went more north, past the theater, the convention center, the giant bus station and through some industrial areas I have never visited before. Of huge interest was a big open space with a HUGE sculpture that reads “Lift Every Voice And Sing” – I can’t wait to see that installed.
But I digress. The course was well marked and there were several water stops, so we just kept trucking. There was a special surprise when the fireworks went off after that Jumbo Shrimp game. They’re hard to see, but it was so fun.
As you can see, it was starting to get pretty dark. Normally, we would have crossed the finish line before sunset, but here we are.
Finish, we did, and we got our medals and an electrolyte ice pop at the finish line. Someone also abandoned their big moon pie.
Run For The Pies offers snacks and beer after the race, and we made a beeline for the adult beverages. There’s just something about a cold beer after a hot workout.
I knew we were all tired, but this area is so pretty at night with lights and public art, and the ladies humored me so I could get just a few pictures before we headed back to the car.
Much as we wanted to hang out, it was now pretty late, and the street where we parked was a little dark and isolated. We decided we would just drive home and eat celebratory pie in the driveway when we brought J home.
Ideal? No. Delicious? Yes.
Run For The Pies is one of those races that you have to try. It’s so much fun to spectate a little, then run your own race.
I love the location and really liked the course as well. It was a little more interesting to have something different in the lineup of Jacksonville races. I’m not a fan of evening runs, but there is a demographic that is, so it’s nice to have something for that group. Weather is unavoidable, especially in June in Florida, and so you just have to roll with those particular punches.
That being said, this is a fun one. The swag is super unique (gender-specific tank, backpack, and moon pie) and I love a race with great medals, beer, and a cool location. Two thumbs up! Give it a try!
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