It’s not often that I get to run an inaugural event, so even though the SUP Bridge the Gap 5K was a night race, I wanted to give it a go. I love events near and along the Riverwalk, so I was excited to try another course.
About The Event
The SUP Bridge The Gap 5K was presumably created to make use of the new Shared Use Path in town. I tested out the path a few weeks ago and shared about it here. We are a region with many races (thanks to decent weather year round), but that means that many events share the same or similar courses. Having this dedicated walking/running/cycling bridge opens up another two miles (one each way) for potential races. Super cool.
Pre-Race and Packet Pickup
When I registered, I forgot that we had tickets to the King Tut Immersive Experience in downtown Jacksonville at 1PM. Oops. It was silly to drive to Jacksonville, then back to St. Augustine, and then all the way back north again, so we planned to make a day of it. We took our time at the exhibit (highly recommend), enjoyed pizza, and then headed to the Riverside Arts Market, where the race was stationed. We arrived at 4:30, and took a little stroll before I needed to pick up my packet.
I got everything I needed, used the portapotty, and then hopped into the car to wait out the storm. Was there going to be a repeat of Run For The Pies? Gosh, I hope not.
There was a 1 mile fun run included in the Bridge The Gap 5k, due to start at 6:30, and things cleared up right before those participants took off. That gave us plenty of time for a group photo.
And time to admire the view. Can we talk about the dolphins? There was a whole pod of them playing in the river and I was captivated.
Time To Race
Right before 7PM, we lined up at the start.
At this moment, I had zero race strategy in mind. This part of town is pretty uneven, and I knew the rain would make everything slippery, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I also wasn’t sure of the race course. I knew the shared use path was an out and back at the end, but didn’t have a firm idea of how the first mile would look. To make it easy, I decided to follow the leader and see how things felt once we were underway.
And off we went.
We ran out of the Riverside Arts Market, turned right, and then left to get off Riverside Avenue. This brought us behind some of the more popular buildings in the area, just to eat up some distance. By the half mile mark, we had turned to recross Riverside, and then cut down to the North Bank. I love running along the water, even if the course is winding and not super wide. We followed the path until we returned to the Arts Market, and then it was up and out to the entrance of the SUP, passing a water stop on the way.
Now it was time for the hard part. The SUP isn’t super steep, but it was hot and humid, and uphill is extra challenging in those conditions. As usual, I was running intervals, but I decided to power walk up the incline, and then run all the way down. It made the most sense in the moment.
It also let me keep an eye on the dolphins frolicking in the water.
On the way down the bride, the rain started again, and I was glad that I decided to wear my visor to keep the driving water out of my eyes. Ugh. It didn’t really cool things down (that’s not how it works in Florida), but the clouds did cut the sun, which made things bearable.
At the turnaround, there was a second water stop, and then we were back up the bridge, for the last mile.
The Finish Line And Post Race
I ran the entire last half mile of the race – since I do intervals, that usually gets broken up, but I had momentum from the downhill and I used it as much as I could. I felt like I had a strong finish, especially on a wet evening, so I felt good when I crossed the finish line.
That being said, I was incredibly overheated and needed a moment with the electrolyte ice pop they handed out with the medals. (Props to the volunteers for cutting them open this time. At Pies, they didn’t, and these packages are impossible to open with sweaty hands.)
Mr PugRunner was waiting for me at the finish line and was very patient as I collected myself and took some medal photos by the water. Riverside races are made for great pictures.
There was pretty of water and music, and room for people to hang out, but I was tired and we were ready to be done. I made a request of stopping at Dreamette for a chocolate dipped cone on our way home. Mission accomplished.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I loved this event. Yes, I hate night running and uphill and rain, but this was fun. Maybe it was because it was new and different, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. For a new event, it was well planned and organized. We had plenty of parking, the race shirts were nice (I prefer cotton, but a tech shirt is nice as well), and the medals were great.
Obviously, 1st Place Sports is experienced with races, so this went off without a hitch. I would absolutely do it again, and hope they create more events using this part of town and the shared use path.
Have you ever run an inaugural event? How was the experience?
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