Back in May of this year when I signed up for this race I thought that a half marathon relay might be a smart choice. I figured that after running the Berlin marathon I might take things easy, but as we all know by now Berlin never happened and about a month before this race I seriously considered switching from the relay to the half marathon distance. Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t, because I came down with a nasty cold that required a round of antibiotics and turned me into a couch potato. Needless to say that on race day morning I was quite relieved knowing that after just a bit over six miles I’d be done!
Downtown St Pete has some of the best running terrain, if you love flat roads and waterfront views. Promptly at 7 a.m. the race got underway. I had chosen to run the first leg of this relay because it gave me a chance to run through Tropicana Field – the home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Let’s face it – when do you ever get a chance to run the outfield of a baseball stadium??? In the seven years I’ve lived here I have never attended a game, or otherwise set foot inside this indoor venue, and I knew this was a pretty special opportunity. But first, I had to make my way through about four miles of block-style running, weaving between tall downtown office and apartment buildings, which was the only downside to my choice of being runner #1.
There wasn’t anything pretty to see along these parts of the course, but in true Florida fashion the sun was out and eventually the stadium came into view:
Once inside we were greeted by music and a view of ourselves on the jumbotron! I got goosebumps; this was definitely the highlight of the race for me!
Thankfully, I only had a couple of miles to go after exiting the stadium. I realized that even a basic cold can seriously wear you out!
We eventually approached the relay exchange. I wasn’t sure if I would spot my running buddy Hanna, but the exchange was well organized and she was off in a flash.
I picked up my finisher bag with my medal, then made my way down to the waterfront to meet Hanna. Since I couldn’t find any water I enjoyed some free Kava Coffee, then waited before the finish line until Hanna approached. Together, we crossed the final finish line.
If you would ask me to criticize anything about the race it would be the rather un-cerimonial ending of my part of the race. Why not hand the medal to the first relay runner? Also, I could not find water. Was there a refill station, other than the one inside the finish line chute (which I could not access, since I came walking down from the relay exchange)? That was a bit of a weird set-up, and perhaps something they will change or improve in the years to come. On the upside? Everything else!
The 2017 St Pete Run Fest was an inaugural race, and many things could have went wrong I suppose. But – it was a flawless race weekend, from packet pickup Saturday to crossing the finish line and beyond. Post-race we enjoyed Tropical Smoothies, bananas, oranges, free beer, and delicious food catered by Carrabas, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish Grill. And look at the race swag! (This is only a portion of the “bounty”!)
Plus, a really fun medal:
And, again……the view! Reason enough to smile, even if you’ve just run the slowest of all races….
This is definitely a race that I’ll add to my 2018 calendar!