On Saturday my friends and I ran the inaugural Ft. Hamer Bridge Run 10k in Parrish. The race was just prior to them opening the bridge It was the largest 5k/10k in the Sarasota/Manatee country areas with 2600 participants.
We agreed to meet early because we wanted to get some extra miles in so we met at 5:15 at the race site to run 5 miles prior to the race start. It was a good thing we met early because they had sent out emails the night before saying that they only had enough parking in the original lot which was only meant for 1800. Rain had poured down the night before which caused the grass lot to become muddy and flooded but the race had a tow truck on site in case anyone needed help getting out of the parking lot. After meeting at 5:20ish, we headed on our first 5 miles. We ran down Ft. Hamer road for 2.5 miles to 301 and back to equal our 5. It was great to be running with my group of frents again! We joked about becoming “those people” who run before races.
After our five miles we headed back to the cars to get our bibs and accessories and re-hydrate before walking over to the start line. It was about a half mile walk from the parking lot to the start line. When we got to the festival area we walked around and looked at the various vendors for a few minutes before heading over to the start line. There were lots of people from the local running community that we ran into and briefly talked to before the start. Around 7:25 it was announced that the race would be delayed by a half hour due to the fact that there was such severe traffic that many people hadn’t been able to park or make it over to the start line yet. Honestly this annoyed me a bit because there were several emails stating to get to the race site early due to the parking situation. Also 7:30 is already a bit of a late start for a summer 10k so to delay it to 8 was even later and caused the heat index to rise significantly. Of course this wasn’t really the fault of the race director but of the people who couldn’t listen to instructions and took their sweet time to get to the race.
We spent the next half hour goofing off in the start corral while waiting for the delayed race start. After the National Anthem was sung they counted down to the start of the race and we were off! I maintained a 1:15/:30 interval on my watch and kept a good pace. The bridge was the first part of the race (thankfully!) and we got that part out of the way quickly. We crossed a double bridge one larger and one smaller and had some pretty good views from the top. Coming back over the bridge and into a small housing development currently in construction with some gorgeous houses being built, we split up with the 5k runners shortly after mile 2. Then the 10k runners headed into the development to run past said beautiful houses. I enjoyed this part of the run as the residential areas covered up the direct sunlight for the majority of mile 3 and 4. There was even a really nice guy setting up a table outside his house with gummi bears for us! Definitely took some of those.
We entered the part of the housing development currently being developed after mile 4. Mile 5 was mostly spent running through what would be future cul-de-sac’s that currently simply had plots for houses marked out. There was a water stop around mile 4.5 and then the last one wasn’t until 5.5, which is normal for a 10k, but with as hot as it was I wanted more water in between. We headed over a small bridge before turning into the final cul-de-sac before heading back out of the neighborhood and towards the finish line. Around mile 5.3 I caught up with a friend who had pulled ahead and we agreed to run the last portion together because both of us were struggling in the heat. We took some water at the final stop and came out of the neighborhood approaching the corner before the finish line. As soon as we rounded the corner we made a push for the finish line, sprinting down the finish chute. Finally the race was over!
I love 10k’s normally, but running them in extreme summer heat is still pretty challenging for me. According to my watch, my HR topped out at 199 during this event and that caused it to give me a 5/5 on the scale of intensity of my training that day. I was told that I was very close to “overreaching” and needed to take several days off…haha!
After crossing the finish line, we grabbed waters, congregated near the finish for a few minutes, chatting with other runners and went to grab some food inside the festival area. I have to commend this race on their vendors…the food choices were excellent. The line we followed took us past Beef O’ Bradys (breakfast tacos- I didn’t even know they made those), a local restaurant making mini pulled pork sandwiches and pulled chicken sandwiches, Chili’s (chips and salsa), Culver’s (custard- no cheese curds but I did get a free coupon for them), and a Mexican restaurant serving rice and beans. That took care of breakfast and lunch for me! Plus they served some craft beer for our finisher beers which was pretty tasty.
This race was very well put on for its inaugural year. The course was well marked, there were plenty of volunteers directing runners, a water stop every mile (especially important for Florida summer events), easy registration and race day registration, and excellent food options post race. The two biggest downsides were the parking (not enough spots and the rain, which can’t be controlled by the race itself, but that caused several cars, including my own, to get stuck and have to be towed out) and the fact that because there was such a traffic jam coming in the start was delayed by a half hour. I really don’t see how the race director could have controlled either of those events though and I thoroughly enjoyed the course and amenities. I also loved the fact that they had medals which are like key chains…I’m going to get it off the medal ribbon and put it on my key chain so I can carry it with me.
I’ll definitely do this event again next year and highly recommend it if you’re in the Sarasota/Manatee/Tampa area!