- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
The Best Damn Race is "a race for runners, by runners." The gist is that you get a TON of perks and an amazing race day experience. With a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon, there's a choice for every kind of runner. I went with the 5K for the inaugural Jacksonville event.
I'm still rehabbing an injury, so I didn't actually "race" this as much as I treated it as an easy run. This was great though, because I was able to actually enjoy the course. So, does this race live up to its name? Here are the facts:
Registration: One of the unique things about this race is that you really ARE rewarded for registering early. While other races may be $5 - $10 cheaper when registration first opens, you can really save a TON here. The first entries $1, then they go up to $5, then $10, etc. etc. until you get to your "day of race registration" costs.
Expo: This wasn't one of my favorite parts - the expo was outdoors at Metropolitan Park in downtown Jax. There were a few vendors there, but it felt like it would have just been easier to have the packet pickup at Jacksonville Running Company (JRC), which was one of the race sponsors.
Swag: The race bag includes a lot of the normal stuff that you get for registering for a race - a protein bar (in this case, a yummy Kind one that I had before the race), t-shirt (tech material with the race logo. I got a men's small and it fits great), and lots of coupons. Half marathon participants got a pint glass with the race logo and JRC's logo. One feature in this race? FREE race photography. If you like your shot, you don't have to pay $100 for it.
Race-Day Logistics/Parking: This went off without a hitch (for me at least). Since the race started/ended in Metropolitan Park, it made for a perfect parking situation at EverBank Field right across the road. Parking is free, and there's a ton of it. I gave myself extra time to get to the start, and I had a lot of time to spare.
The Course: If you've ever run in Downtown Jacksonville, you already know the course. The 5K/10K started 30 minutes before the half, which I loved because it prevented bottlenecking. Our race started maybe 3 minutes late, which is normal. The course follows basically the same way that the Marine Corps Half did (without the bridges), and took you along the riverwalk. It's flat, flat, flat, and I know a lot of people who PR'd (in every distance, not just the 5K). Since I wasn't racing, I was able to really soak in the views/sunrise. My only complaint is that for us locals, it's kind of the same old.
Aid Stations: I can only vouch for the 5K aid station, which came around Mile 2. The volunteers were really energetic, which I was impressed by since it was so cold out. I checked out the course map for the half, and it looks like there are several GU stations in good locations, plus some cheer spots set up. Again, I can't vouch for how these went, but the 5K station was great.
The Medal: This is the most important thing, right? I love the medal for this race, because you can really see the detail that went into it. Some races just give you a HUGE medal with the race logo, and that's boring. This one has the city skyline, with "Jacksonville" in an outline of the Main Street Bridge. Little details like that make the medal more special. I only wish they had separated the 5K and 10K, since the medal says "5K/10K" on it.
Finish Area: As I stated before, the race ends in Metropolitan Park. It's actually the same finish spot as the Marine Corps Half. One thing I LOVED about the finish area was the guy announcing the finishers - he was funny and paid attention to everyone while he encouraged us. At the finish area, there is also the "PR bell," which you can sound off if you set a PR. There was a Dunkin' Donuts station, plus free beer (at 8:00 am?) and massage tables. They also set up a screen so you could take your picture in front of the race logo. It was too cold for me to stick around, but I did get a look at all of the vendors, which were the same ones as from the expo.
So, is this really the "Best Damn Race?" I don't know that it lives up to THAT name, but it was still a great time. If you register early enough, you can have an amazing race for $10! I would definitely recommend it to any level runner!