This year was the 28th running of the Say No To Drugs Holiday Classic race here in Clearwater, FL. I have had my eye on this one for a few years now and it finally worked out that I was in town to run it.
Packet pickup was easy. There were three locations throughout the Bay Area to pickup your packet, two in Clearwater and one in Tampa so I was able to pickup at the Tampa location on my way home from work one day. I do think that they could have had a pickup in Saint Petersburg or North Tampa for the people for whom the other locations weren’t convenient, but I know that this isn’t always possible. Pickup included your bib number and tee (a blue, long-sleeved dri-fit shirt).
Parking in Clearwater is plentiful. If you are not familiar with the area, you can pull up a parking map on the City of Clearwater’s website in order to find available, free parking.
The potties at the start line were plentiful, but per usual the lines were long. I almost missed the start, which has never really happened to me but when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go!
The start line was in a great spot- right on the water.
The course is beautiful. You do go up a hill right out of the start line and then you go over the bridge, so get your calves ready for that! You run right into Clearwater Beach before turning around to head back to Coachman Park. Be ready to head up some hills again on the way back! There is some good shade along the route and the wind was great (especially when you are right by the water). When there aren’t trees? The sun is hardcore. I definitely recommend sunscreen– at least on your face, which I did not do and regretted about half way through.
There were three or four aid stations with water to drink and there were tons of volunteers around the route with helpful signs making sure that you went the right way.
I saw three photographers along the route. Photos are available for free for this race, which is always great, so smile big!
Upon crossing the finish line, runners received their medal and water. They also had a time table available to receive a slip with your official time right away. The finish line festival included free pancakes, oranges, bananas, and orange juice. I wasn’t feeling very hungry so I just had a banana, but the pancakes did smell delicious. I went right home after the race, so I didn’t get to visit the expo but there seemed to be lots of tents up and vendors to visit. They were also handing out tickets for giveaways after the race, which is pretty cool.
I was exhausted at the end of this race. It was pretty humid today and for some reason I started to break down at mile 5 or so. Something was up with my left shoe, though I couldn’t tell you what– maybe I didn’t lace it correctly? I don’t know. Right shoe was fine, left shoe kept bothering me. My calves begin to feel really heavy and I started to walk more than I would have liked.
But? I finished. Not my best time, but I used lots of self-talk and “you’ve done this before” to get myself through. Nothing some stretching, yoga, and foam rolling can’t make better.
The course was great. The shirt was awesome. The medal was nice and big and the price was right! For the 5K/10K: Pre-reg sign-up fee $29 Day-of sign-up fee $35 Kids 12 & Under = $10. No price increase at different intervals. I love that! So I would definitely do it again.
Distance: 6.36 miles
Finish Time: 1:22:29