- 3 miles/5K
- Road Race
The 2016 ODU Big Blue 5k was the race's second year and my first running it. Put on by J&A Racing, it was another example of their excellent events and offers something for both children and adults.
Expo - There is no expo. Packet pick-up can be done Friday or before the race on Saturday. I opted for race day pick-up and the lines weren't too bad. Tech race shirts in both men's and women's cuts were easy to exchange for different sizes and the reusable bag is always nice.
Parking - With several garages dotting the ODU campus, race day parking was allowed on certain levels in each one. Arriving early is a good idea, especially if you're doing race day pick-up, so you have time to hit the restrooms, drop your bag and get on over to the start with time to spare.
Start - The 10:30 start time makes this the perfect race for those who like to sleep in. It also gives 5k runners a chance to watch the kids run their 1k race that started at 10am. The start area has plenty of Port-a-Potties, a water station and the race store. It was a bit challenging to find somewhere to get a solid warm-up in since the available areas also had some very light traffic or were packed with people After getting in a bit over a mile, I stepped into my corral. They line up down a narrow street but with the race's small size (limited to 2,500 participants) it doesn't seem too crowded. I was in Corral 1 and after the national anthem, Team Hoyt was off two minutes before the rest of us right on time.
Course/Support - An immediate right turn after starting puts you on a road wider than where we had been lined up and it was nice to spread out a bit. The very flat course takes you around and through ODU's campus with some tight turns and narrower paths later in the race where there's little running traffic. A hard U-turn at the midway point can slow you down a little and the bigger number of turns can make the super flat course less of an opportunity to PR. Water stops were well staffed at two spots, a doughnut stop somewhere between Miles 2.5 and 3 was cute and I failed to notice if there were any potties out there anywhere. The best part of the course is the finish. With a tiny bit of race to go you enter the stadium, step onto the bouncy football field and pass over the finish timer right on the 50-yard line. Crowd support is minimal on a Saturday morning college campus but the finish has plenty of enthusiasm to make up for it.
Finish - Finishing on the football field is neat. Beware it's a kind of lumpy surface. After crossing the line, you get a bottle opener medal and a bottled water before a nice cool down walk to the post race party.
After Party - J&A races are all about the post race party. You get three complimentary beers (21+, of course) and at this event your food was a burrito from Moe's Southwest Grill (yum!). Featuring food trucks, cornhole boards, giant Jenga, unlimited water and tons of potties without lines, it's easy to imagine hanging out there for a few hours while you wait for the ODU Spring Game to begin. You get a free ticket to attend with your race entry.
Swag - Bottle opener medals, gender specific tech t-shirts, entry to the football game, comp beer and free food are hard to beat. The bags you receive with your shirt are reusable grocery style bags and thankfully don't come full of things you'll just throw away. Did I mention the 10:30 start time? That's not really 'swag' but it is nice.
Another fantastic J&A Racing event, the ODU Big Blue 5k has something for everyone in the family and is a great chance to show your university pride.