I was in a bad mood. Sore and tired from a rough race and delayed flight the night before – I was looking for a reason not to run another race this weekend.
Luckily, I looked for it with my friend Megan, who would not let me bail, no matter how hard I tried, and I did try.
- The shirt and medal would probably be lame – it’s a small local race which was very inexpensive to enter. NO – she saw them at packet pickup – a pink shirt an adorable medal were waiting for me.
- It was storming and the race might be canceled. NO – the storms had passed and had actually cooled down the temperature.
- I was hurt (a neck strain and blisters) from running in the rain yesterday – I might get swept. NO – there is a 4 hour time limit, making it a walker friendly race.
So I drove to Osteen, Florida (which it turns out, is only 30 minutes from my house, right next to the Sanford International Airport) for the inaugural ECHO Half Marathon. Runners parked in a large field as the sun rose over the trees on the horizon. Familiar faces from the Orlando running community greeted me, as my spirits rose, a little.
The race started down the quite road, and soon turned onto the paved trails of Green Springs Park. The tree canopies here were beautiful, and as I looked out over the calm waters of Lake Monroe – I remembered why I love Florida so much.
Miles 9-11.5 were very hot – but in fairness, it is June, and it is Florida. The race directors not only had ample water at every stop – there were 14 water stops in a 13 mile race. In addition there were Icy Pops and Cookies at mile 5, and Gels at mile 7. Although I did not see them – other runners told me there were Jello Shots along the way as well. I cannot confirm this, but I would not be surprised by it!
At the finish line, the medal, which was indeed beautiful – was accompanied by an assortment of food and festivities. Dunkin Donuts had donut holes and coffee, while BBQ was provided with unlimited free beer and Ice Cold Strawberries. Shuttles took runners back to the start line, while those who has stayed at the host hotel near the finish (shuttles were provided to the start line) made their way back.
This race was started with the goal of raising awareness of the new East Central Regional Rail-Trail, which will eventually span 52 miles from Enterprise to Edgewater.
The organizers website explains that “The ECHO Grant has enabled the trails to be built. Local runners, walkers and bikers are utilizing portions of these trails every day thanks to ECHO. We want to ensure the publicity gets out about these trails and the importance of continuing the efforts to complete the rail-trail in its full vision”.
A friend of mine, who lives in the area noticed my Facebook check-in for the race and asked me about the trails, interested in biking them. He had been unaware they were completed. I realized in this small example, that the vision of this race was being realized.
It was a beautiful day, and I am glad I ran. Although I was still sore and tired, I left with spirits much higher than I had arrived with. I would run this race again and would recommend it to anyone looking for an often hard to find June half-marathon in the south.