One of the things I look forward to when we come to Florida on holiday is the races we will be doing. From the Watermelon 5k, Run Thru Hell to Cool Summer Mornings, they are all different in many ways and the only thing they have in common is the distance. Due to the way the dates fell, and going to see Rascal Flatts in concert, we weren’t able to do Watermelon or Run Thru Hell but we had another race to look forward to – The Chocolate Sundae 5k.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out why they call it the The Chocolate Sundae 5k – they give out the treat to everyone at the finish. This event sounded quirky enough and the thought of a chocolate ice cream dessert at the finish of a run while on holiday was good enough reason to sign up. Another reason, which we weren’t aware of at the time, was the unique medals they give out. They were spoons!
It was another early start for us as we had to leave at 5.30am for the hour drive across to Tampa. The races here tend to start at 7.30am due to the heat and humidity. We arrived at the Florida State Fairground, which plays host to a number of events from conventions to races like we were about to do to concerts at the wonderful amphitheatre, where we had been to last week for the Rascal Flatts concert. We picked up our race packs before heading back to the car to get ready before returning for the start of the race. This race had more of a Fun Run feel to it than the competitive nature of Cool Summer Mornings. The majority of entrants were female, adults with their kids, groups of friends and a big group from a local gym.
We started off at a pretty quick pace with the usual sight of a few people going off way too fast before slowing down within the first half mile. I quickly settled into a pace that I normally feel comfortable in although I was a bit surprised when my Garmin read 6:03 and so thought it best to ease off the pace ever so slightly! As the majority of the entrants were fun runners, the field at the front soon thinned out and after slowing down to grab a drink at the water station at the first mile marker, I quickly found myself losing pace with the guys in front. This race was simply a case of follow the person in front as the route involved a number of loops around cones in the massive car park. While I had dropped a bit behind the guys on front, one of the turns on the course allowed me the opportunity to see who was behind me and how far away they were and I was surprised to see the closest person behind me was a good distance away.
Having a gap between you and other runners is not always good as the pressure of others behind you or having someone in front of you close enough to catch keeps you going and helps stop your pace from slipping as the body realises there’s no pressure. Especially on a dull course like this one!
Essentially the race was entirely around the car park. There were few long straight sections and many loops and strips you went down on one side, round the cone at the bottom and back up the other side. While this can be good to see who’s behind you, it’s a bit off-putting when you can’t see anyone! At one point in the race, just after 2 miles, I could see people running in different directions and as we got closer to the finish and the finish area was in sight, the route took us away from what seemed obvious and gave us another loop to negotiate before the final turn to the finish. At last, it was over!
I was delighted with my 6th place overall and my time of 19:50, 30 seconds faster than last week. We all got our spoon-shaped medals with the clear instructions not to use them to eat our chocolate sundaes with them! I received another medal for finishing in the top 10. The bonus medals were given out to the top 10 males and females and it was great that Allison got one too!
Once we all finished, it was time to tuck into our chocolate sundaes, possibly one of the main selling points to the race. That’s two portions of ice cream and a beer we’ve received at the finish of the 5k races we’ve done here. You don’t get that kind of thing in the UK! I wonder if that would get more people signing up?
What’s been the most unusual race you’ve ever run?