What a fun and exciting running event the Bridge of Lions 5K was. I would rate it a 3 out of 5 stars. Just a week ago my family and I was in New York on vacation and this weekend were were in St. Augustine running the Bridge of Lions 5K. While in New York we ran in Central Park and visited several must see places like Ellis Island, Twin Tower Memorial area, Bryant park, Grand Central Station, Time Square and the Museum of Natural History in which the movie, Night of the Museum, was based on.
My daughter, Christina had reminded me that I promised months prior to go to the Bridge of Lions 5K race. This race is almost 2 hours away from Ocala Florida, where we live and even though I was a little tired from our New York trip I’d figure we would spend the weekend in St. Augustine, run the race and spend the rest of the time relaxing on the beach. We stayed at a place called Beachers Lodge which was only 18 minutes from the St. Augustine fort where the race starts.
This race route seemed a little weird because it started at the fort, which is called Castillo de San Marcos, went over the bridge called The Bridge of Lions and ended at a Park on the other side of the bridge. Oglethorpe Park was a small park in the middle of a neighborhood next to the bridge. The finish line at this park was easy to get to and spectators were lined on each side cheering the runners in. The park had a few businesses promoting their services and was spread out to accommodate the runners and spectators. I don’t know why but there was a T-Rex mascot running around and entertaining the kids and adults. I figured a Lion mascot might have made more sense.
Because the finish line was over a half mile away runners had a choice to park in the neighborhood near the finish, at the fort or in paid public parking within the shopping area by the fort. We chose to park in the public parking which was near the fort and also near St. Augustine’s famous downtown shopping area, a stone throw away from the fort. There were hundreds of runners coming in from all parts of Florida and a few parts of Georgia. It was obvious that this race was an annual event, in fact it was the 33rd annual Bridge of Lions running event.
After sign-in I had walked around to talk to runners and was pleasantly surprised that several of these runners had run this race on several occasions. It seemed as if there were some really serious runners in this race. As I walked around it was clear that the longest lines, which cracked me up, was at the Porta Potties. Of course most every running event has these bathrooms but this running event which had over 1100 runners had more than I had seen together in a long time. This community of runners seemed to look like they were at a big party which was great. There were smiles and laughter everywhere.
At the start of the race we ran maybe a quarter mile to the bridge and then went over the bridge. Most of the time a bridge can be exhausting but because it was at the beginning of the race it was not too bad. The neighborhood had a nice view and there were several neighbors watching and cheering the runners as they passed them by. The finish line was like a chute which was wide at the beginning and narrowed as you ran into it. Many times the spectators and family members of the runners made the chute even more narrow because they would lean and move inside to get a picture of the particular runners they were cheering for.
All in all it was a nice race. Not only did you get a medal but the winning runners in the age categories were given a ceramic tile type plate with the picture of the Lion on it. There wasn’t anything special about the food and drinks given to the finishing runners. There were water bottles and 10-gallon containers with more water, granola bars, peanuts, wafer cookies and lots of bananas. The park had a lot of trees and beautiful St. Augustine grass to sit on. Over all I would rate this race 3-stars only because it seemed just like a standard run. The bridge was fun to run over but there was very little entertainment and food/drink choices. After all it is more of a social running event which did not bring in the top caliber runners we know Florida to have. The winning 5K men’s time was in the 17 minutes and the ladies was in the 19 minutes.
The fun thing about this running event was that it was the first time I was in it and it was in a historical city near a beach. I would recommend it to anyone who has not run it before just to be in the area of St. Augustine.