Latest reviews by This Old Runner ~~
I was looking forward to running this race in Honeymoon Island State Park. It could have been great, but instead it completely missed the mark. There were signs at packet pickup, which was a clunky, disorganized event in the back of a local fitness center/gym, that worried me.
My concern continued on race day from start to finish. I suspect the race management team was distracted by the fact that they were getting married after the race as part of the post race festivities, but that's no excuse for poor execution and putting runners at risk. The only heat consideration mentioned was runners were told they could opt to run the 10k instead of the half.
It was unseasonably hot with no cloud cover on race day. There should have been lots and lots of water everywhere for the runners. There was warm water and then NO water, on the race course. There was no shade, just lots and lots of hot asphalt in the post race area. The food and beer weren't ready when the 10k runners finished. It seemed nothing proactive was done about the real risk of heat exhaustion on race day.
Anything good? Yes — the views while running from Honeymoon Island across the Dunedin Causeway and back were lovely. Nice tech shirt and big medal.
2015 was the 2nd annual Honeymoon Island Half. The 1st year course took runners along the beach in soft sand. No one liked that, so they changed the course for the 2nd year to all paved trails and roads. I just heard that the 3rd annual race will take place in downtown Dunedin. That doesn't guarantee there will be cold water or shade, but it sounds like the race directors are listening and trying to improve.
Florida Road Races added this race to their lineup in 2015. It’s a great early season race that you can work into your training, or use as an end of summer fitness test.
Packet Pick Up:
Packet pick up was offered at local running stores in St. Petersburg and Tampa the week before the race. No expo. You could also pick up your packet on race day morning. Packets included a blue short sleeve tech shirt and a race bib with tracking device attached. If you register early, you can personalize your race bib.
Traveling to the Race:
I traveled I-275 to 54th Ave. South to the Pinellas Bayway South (75c toll) to Fort DeSoto. The Race Directors prepay the park's $5 entry fee for all runners.
Easy and free. Volunteers did a great job directing traffic.
The permanent restrooms that are next to the parking lots are pitch black inside at 6 am. They use natural light, not electricity. However, there are plenty of port-o-lets at the far end of the parking lot past the start/finish line. The port-o-lets are well lit by huge spotlights on generators.
7:05 start time. There is music at the starting line, and frequent announcements. While waiting for the start of the race there was a light rain. After the Star Spangled Banner, the announcer counted down, and the race began.
There was a beautiful cloudy sunrise and a rainbow as we started the race. The only downside was that a rainbow requires rain. Runners in both the 15K and the 5K were drenched in a downpour of big fat juicy drops. And then, of course, wet socks.
No official pacers. I found a few people running an appealing pace, so I ran with them.
It was a friendly group of runners in the middle of the pack. At one point, the energy chews I stashed in my belt fell to the ground. A 20-something girl who was running behind me noticed. She kindly sprinted up to me, gave me the chews, and then ran back to her group. I was happy to have those energy chews later in the race.
At the mid-point of the 15K race, the aid stations had orange slices. Previous to that there was water and sports drink. There were 6 aid stations for the 15K.
The course was an out and back on paved trails, parking lots and roads. You don't run in any sand. The course is flat, and has beautiful vistas all around. This park is a great example of a natural Florida habitat.
Volunteers at every stage of the race were enthusiastic and encouraging.
Finishers receive a huge, sparkly starfish medal. The race ends at the starting line, and then everyone flows into the post race party.
Post Race Party:
The post race festivities take place in an area shady by mature oak trees. Pasta, pastries, fruit, beer, chocolate milk, and water are available. Live music. Lots and lots of awards. I believe 5 deep in every category.
I appreciate the photos by Game Face Media included with this event. Free race photos are a new trend in our area, and I really like that.
Official race results were posted online at CoolRunning by 3 pm Sunday afternoon. You could also check your results at the finish. There were 414 finishers in the 15K results, and 283 in the 5K results.
Florida Road Races offered a $35 entry fee for the first 100 15K runners when they announced this new race. For 2016 they had a Leap Day sale price. Prices are always reasonable with this management group, but they do increase as the race gets closer. If you can commit early, you can save lots of money.